Timeless and elegant and sporting just three ingredients, the Martini cocktail is the pinnacle and most pure of mixed drinks. London’s array of bars offers plenty of choice when it comes to seeking out the finest expressions of this classic. Here’s where you’ll find the best Martinis in town
Much like the Martini, the Connaught epitomises sophistication and style, having been named The World’s Best Bar on two occasions. No wonder, then, that this is the cocktail given centre stage here. Take a seat in the classy art-deco bar, set within this luxury Mayfair hotel, and you’ll soon see the Martini trolley circulating the room, from which icy cocktails are poured from a great height, customised with a selection of handmade bitters.
The Connaught Hotel, Carlos Place, Mayfair, London, W1K 2AL
Compact and minimalist, Three Sheets offers a respite from bustling Kingsland Road in east London’s Dalston, with a cocktail offering that’s concise and elegant, in keeping with the bar’s no-fuss approach. Alongside drinks that tend towards lighter, highball-style serves is the Foraged Martini, on the list since the bar opened in 2016. It subtly adapts the classic Martini by combining gin with nettle vermouth to great effect.
510b Kingsland Road, Dalston, London, E8 4AE
Arguably the most famous bar in the world for Martinis, Dukes treats this venerable classic with the reverence and sense of occasion it deserves. Bartenders in white jackets prepare Martinis tableside from a trolley, pouring freezing-cold spirit straight from the bottle and garnishing with twists of Amalfi lemon. The bar, located within the eponymous boutique Mayfair hotel, was a favoured drinking spot of James Bond author Ian Fleming.
35 St James's Place, St James, London, SW1A 1NY
Tayēr + Elementary
Effortlessly cool and relentlessly forward-thinking, Tayēr + Elementary, found on the quieter end of London’s Old Street, consists of two distinct parts. Tayēr, with its large, central wooden bar, is where the cutting-edge cocktail wizardry happens, while Elementary, in the front, is more of a neighbourhood joint, but with drinks that are no less delicious. Here, the One Sip Martini offers a miniature take on the classic, with vodka, vermouth and fino sherry, served in a large shot glass with an olive.
152 Old Street, Shoreditch, London, EC1V 9BW
Sister venue to exceptional Hoxton Square basement bar Happiness Forgets, Ever After is located just above, on ground level. A comparatively bright and airy all-day spot, there’s a long bar counter to perch at while enjoying a varied selection of uncomplicated cocktails alongside some inspired bar snacks. An undisputed highlight is the House Martini poured straight from the freezer, with vodka or gin, dry vermouth and the subtle addition of white tea.
9 Hoxton Square, Shoreditch, London, N1 6NU
From the team behind Lyaness, Seed Library is located in east London hotel One Hundred Shoreditch. Perhaps in contrast with its sister bar, the intention here is to return to the basics, with decor that favours warm tones, and drinks that embrace “natural variance and a maker’s touch”. The bar’s current take on the Martini is an inventive combination of Old Tom-style gin, dry vermouth and a sorghum distillate.
100 Shoreditch High St, Shoreditch , London, E1 6JQ
This cosy and characterful Old Street bar, with its vintage decor, takes its namesake cocktail seriously, right down to pickling its own onions for this Martini variation’s distinctive garnish. The house Gibson is served in a striking stainless-steel Martini glass, and the bar offers an aged version too, which has spent six months in a former balsamic barrel. For those seeking some spice, there’s the Kiss of the Scorpion, a Vodka Martini made with three of the world’s hottest peppers.
44 Old Street, Shoreditch, London, EC1V 9AQ
Cocktail bars don’t come more genteel than the American Bar at The Savoy, an art-deco haven that’s been around longer than any other such establishment in London. Faithful recreations of classic cocktails, as well as fresh twists, are the name of the game here, and what better place to start than a Martini sipped in glamorous surrounds to the soundtrack of live jazz piano.
The Savoy Hotel, The Strand, Covent Garden, London, WC2R 0EZ
Taking inspiration, and its name, from acclaimed Sixties photographer Terence Donovan, the bar within Brown's Hotel is a stylish, upmarket drinking spot in the heart of Mayfair. With cocktail legend Salvatore Calabrese (aka The Maestro) in charge of drinks, you’d expect his famous gin and marmalade Breakfast Martini to be in evidence, and you’d be right. But don’t miss out on the bar’s other Martini interpretations, such as the Vesper Martini twist, From Mayfair With Love, or the Not Shaken, Not Stirred, with gin or vodka redistilled with coffee cordial and ginseng.
33 Albermarle Street, Mayfair, London, W1S 4BP
London’s Bethnal Green is home to Satan’s Whiskers, a glorious combination of hip-hop, taxidermy and seriously good cocktails. This fun, laid-back drinking establishment changes its menu every day, offering a selection of classics that are kept true to the originals. Martinis, therefore, will be free from any new-fangled additions or twists – just the best possible version of the classic.
343 Cambridge Heath Road, Bethnal Green, London, E2 9RA
Upmarket Soho cocktail bar Soma comes from the team behind modern Indian restaurant Kricket, which is located above this intimate basement venue. The Indian influences on the decor extend to the bar’s drinks offering too, which features classics reimagined with new flavours. Coriander, for example, is the Martini twist, pairing Indian gin with pickled purple carrot, coriander vermouth and citrus pepper.
14 Denman St, Soho, London, W1D 7HJ
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