A cocktail crawl around London town

Updated on 27 October 2011 | 0 Comments

Desipte the downturn London's cocktail scene is as vibrant as ever, if you know where to look

As the recession and VAT increases bite the Londoner’s wallet, you would expect people to cut down on that after-work drink or weekend nights out, so we were surprised by the results of a survey we ran at Designmynight.com; our nightlife price-comparison site for London. We interviewed 500 men and 500 women and found that not only is the London nightlife scene as buoyant as ever, but Londoners now prefer a luxe cocktail over the humble pint:

69% of respondents declared that a cocktail is now their drink of choice.

63% prefer to go and “experience” a cocktail bar rather than sit in their local boozer.

The Shoreditch shuffle

Why have Londoners converted to a more expensive drinking practice when we’re all being told to tighten our belts? Over the last 12 months, London has seen an explosion of incredible cocktail bars, whether they’re perched on rooftops, filled with vintage antiquities, buried underground or simply serving exceptional cocktails. The main cocktail renaissance has been in the resurgent Shoreditch area, where a new cocktail bar seems to be opening weekly. Londoners have cottoned on to the fact that having a drink can now be an event in itself. Plenty of venues have gone all out on experimental interior design elements and intriguing ingredients so, from the minute you enter these drinking dens, you’re immediately wowed by the ambience, the seemingly carefree crowd and of course, the inventive drinks menu.

Escape to the city

Rebekkah Dooley, marketing manager of Narnia-inspired cocktail bar Callooh Callay in east London has her own theory on why we’re indulging more during this time of cutbacks: “With all the doom and gloom in the city right now it's important to take pleasure in the smaller things in life - it's the £8 cocktail with an elaborate garnish that makes you feel like royalty as you close your eyes for your first sip, and the beautiful bar that greets when you when you re-open them. It's all about escapism, relief, and fun."

Happy hour

Experience or not, with a cocktail averaging £7.50 in London, you would expect the recession to have taken its toll on this expensive tipple. However, the emergence of a new trend will always see it opening up to the masses somehow. This has been seen with “cocktail chains”, such as Be At One and Grand Union which offer professionally made cocktails at more accessible prices. The décor may not inspire but cocktails can be enjoyed for just a pound more than a pint (at the right time) in these establishments. Perhaps as a cursory nod to concerns about price, a lot of people are using our site’s tools to discover which cocktail bars are offering happy-hour promotions at any given time. Watching out for specials is a good way to experience some of the best bars in the world but without the price tag to match.

So next time you head out for a drink in London, don’t bother with your standard vodka and Coke. Instead be a bit more daring when choosing your location and drink and you may just join the growing London masses that are picking cocktails before pints.

If you are in London, or coming to London, then you must visit one (or all) of these fantastic, new cocktail bars:

1. The London Cocktail Club - An effortlessly cool, laid back London basement bar where great food and great cocktails collide to form the complete London bar experience

2. NinetyEight Bar and Lounge - Destined to be one of the coolest and most creative bars in Shoreditch. The unique cocktail menu and fabulous décor make for a great night out. Head down on a weekend for some funky music, the perfect compliment to your delicious cocktail or chill on the weekdays as the perfect getaway basement bar.

3. Zenna - Top mixologist Dan Thomson is in charge of the bar making some of the tastiest cocktails you will ever drink (including the world’s spiciest cocktail!). The decor is low-lit and with some superb alcoves to bury yourself away and enjoy the cocktails in.

4. Purl – Purl is the West End’s very own secret underground bar with some of the most innovative cocktails in London. Descend from the streets of Marylebone and enter into a moody and mysterious cavern. Purl has fast become one of the most-lauded and best bars in London

5. Nightjar Bar -  Transport yourself to a world of 1920s Speakeasy where a night of classic cocktails, smooth Jazz and Americana sounds lie in wait.The Nightjar is easily one of the best London bars around at the moment.

Thirsty for more? Try these:

Nick Telson is Director of www.designmynight.com: London’s nightlife price comparison site. Discover. Book. Enjoy. Voted “Best Nightlife Website” in The Independent. 


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