LONDON'S BEST BARS
Here at Thomas Tipple, our aim is to bridge the gap between the world’s top bars and cocktails available to you on shelves. As such, we visit London’s most renowned cocktail establishments each week (for market research of course).
This week we look back fondly at our visit to Lyaness, where the team curated unique cocktails using unheard of ingredients - the more outrageous the better. . .
Where it all began… Our first venture set the bar high (if you’ll pardon the pun). Located on London’s renowned South Bank within the newly opened shipping containers, Lyaness matches the quality of establishments within close proximity. Previously Dandelyan, Lyaness has taken London’s bar scene by a storm. We sampled a selection two cocktails, with each cocktail bearing its own unique story alongside the ingredient list. Each cocktail has the option of either alcoholic or nonalcoholic, with many supplementing alcoholic for Seedlip or Aecorn aperitifs.
20 Upper Ground, London, SE1 9PD
Up first the Ultra Raspberry (Tapatio Blanco Puffed rice, Ultra Raspberry, Seedlip Garden, Bubbles). Lyanesses’ take on the raspberry bellini (sound familiar?). We were keen to try a drink so closely related to our own that this had to be the first we tried. “Everything you would expect from a Bellini, whilst being playful and slightly herbacious”.
Next, we have the Queenie-Harvard (Martell VSOP & Cordon Bleu Cognacs, Chestnut, Ultra Raspberry, Aecorn Sweet Aperitif, Dubonnet). “A big warm hug of a cocktail, the perfect nightcap”. Rich, stirred and comforting. The Manhattan you didn't know you needed.
Below is the bar area.
As promised, My Lyan has created a cocktail bar that “goes beyond the simple focus of what’s in your glass”. From the decor to the water pitcher to the excellent service, there is little room to fault Lyaness and the dedicated team working hard to create bespoke cocktails. We will definitely be back!
The American Bar at
After a highly successful visit to Lyaness, the next bar on our list was none other than the highly acclaimed American Bar at The Savoy. Globally-renowned, The American Bar placed fifth on The World’s 50 best bar list in 2019, and not for the first time. As such, we knew we had to plan a visit to the 130-year-old institution. And what better occasion than the Fourth of July!
“The Savoy’s American Bar is the oldest surviving cocktail bar in Britain, first welcoming guests for its popular ‘American-style’ drinks in 1893. Today, the American Bar in London enjoys a reputation that positions it at the very forefront of the beverage industry – in 2017 it was voted World’s Best Bar at World’s 50 Best and in 2018 named World’s Best again at Tales of the Cocktail”.
Serving classics with a twist, new and vintage creations by Savoy bartenders - like Harry Craddock’s famous white lady - ensures The American Bar keeps up with new trends found in recently opened bars across the capital. Though up to date with modern trends, the American Bar remains at the forefront of class and sophistication, transporting its guests back to a 1920s London jazz bar. Whilst it cannot be denied the American Bar holds its own as a cocktail bar, we were pleasantly reminded of the important place held by live music within the bar.
From the song-book themed menu to the live pianist taking centre stage, it was clear cocktails are only part of the American Bar experience. On theme with this, the menu follows a musical journey, illustrated as a song book. We chose a selection of two cocktails, accompanied by complementary bar snacks served in a beautiful, three tiered silver stand. To begin, we tried the Electric Lover.
After speaking to the bartenders we were told this is one of The American Bar's most popular drinks, as are many of the gin based drinks listed on the menu. And it is no surprise why, each bar we visit is experimenting with the gin trend and they don't see it halting any time soon.
"The Savoy Songbook, which pays homage to the legendary musicians and songwriters that have entertained guests in the bar for decades. Each of the 20 cocktails featured in the menu have been inspired by some of the most iconic songs played in the bar today."
Next we tried the Go Go Go, and we weren't disappointed. This tequila based cocktail packed a punch, using unusual ingredients such as avocado and kumquat to balance the flavours.
The vast number of cocktails on offer at The American Bar demonstrates the high standard of bartenders found at The Savoy, though busy we received great service and took the time to enjoy our drinks. The American Bar at The Savoy provides a truly unique cocktail experience, as if stepping back in time to the 1920s. A mere stones throw away from Oxford Street, it is a true luxury to escape from the crowds and settle into the luxury of The American Bar, in which you will be spoilt for choice of cocktails.
This week we took a trip to Old Compton Street,
an area of Soho blessed with a multitude of London's best bars.
“Bar Termini takes its place in The World’s 50 Best Bars for the third year in a row. This all-day affair of coffee and cocktails, inspired by Rome’s Termini train station bar, is a pocket of a place that has no trouble capturing the passing Old Compton Street crowd.” - https://www.worlds50bestbars.com/fifty-best-bars-list/bar-termini.php
A Thomas Tipple favourite and Soho institution, Bar Termini has topped our list of London’s Best Bars. Part of Tony Conigliaro's London trio (Untitled, Bar With No Name, Bar Termini), this Soho establishment is the epitome of Italian hospitality. From the name to the menu, stepping inside the cosy Bar Termini is like transporting yourself to Italy. The menu is simplistic and specific, focusing on few Italian specialities which are pre-batched and available to buy online and in store.
This method of pre-mixing is now a common bar trend, in a location as busy as Old Compton Street there is little time for messing around. We are yet to visit Bar Termini and see an empty table within the bar, the high turnover of tables ensures walk-ins have the opportunity to experience the high standard of drinks and service, as soon as one table leaves the seats are instantly filled.
The menu has four variations of the house negroni: Classico - Superiore - Rosato - Robusto. We tried the Classico negroni, served from pre-mixed glass bottles at the table. The art behind the perfect classic negroni is equal parts of gin, campari and sweet vermouth. It is safe to say Bar Termini have found the balance, served in small glasses to the brim the standard of drinks served at Termini are second to none.
The second cocktail we tried shied away from the Negroni and instead mixed an unusual combination of Limoncello and coffee, something we just had to try. The pleasant twist of refreshing lemon shaken with rich coffee made for a truly delicious cocktail, we wouldn’t hesitate to order this cocktail again.
Alongside our drinks we tried the classic Italian aperitivo dishes of beef carpaccio and prosciutto crudo, both of which complemented our drinks excellently. After visiting Bar Termini as part of our weekly bar visit programme we have since been back numerous times, proving a favourite with our team.
There is no doubt in our minds Bar Termini has earned it's spot on The World's 50 best bars list, it is most definitely on ours.
Fortnum & Mason
The Royal Exchange
This week we had the pleasure of visiting Fortnum & Mason at The Royal Exchange, named ‘Most Instagrammable Restaurant in London’ by the Evening Standard. Similar to most, this Fortnum and Mason bar had individual stools evenly spread out around an oval, marble bar with the main bar looked onto by bar goers.
“Serving up a seasonal and contemporary menu and offering a personal shopping service to diners, The Fortnum's Bar & Restaurant sits in the al fresco-style surroundings of the Royal Exchange’s spectacular central courtyard.” - https://www.fortnumandmason.com/royalexchange
As in most top bars, bartenders welcome the opportunity to create and mix ‘off menu’ drinks, using ingredients behind the bar to produce high quality, unique drinks which may not have been made before. As such, two of us ordered off-menu drinks using locally sourced, market priced ingredients. Whereas one cocktail was an alcoholic beverage, the second was not, challenging the bartender to create two entirely different drinks. The bartender first asked our preferences and took these into account before curating two unique drinks, an experience we are yet to try at other bars.
"A rum base" - The only preference we gave for the alcoholic option. The cocktail was concocted on the bar in front of us, drizzled in rum and served alight. Topped with caramelised pineapple and lime, the cocktail contained a bold mix of dark rum and citrus fruits. We would definitely recommend ordering to your own taste for an off-menu special, it makes the experience that much more wholesome.
To light the cocktail he lit the rum as he poured it over the top of the drink, as seen in the image on the left. Part of the cocktail experience is always the show accompanying the serve.
To the right we have the non-alcoholic option, a blend of fresh raspberries, mint and a non-alcoholic liqueur.
Below we have a cocktail from the menu, The Study in Pink:
Fortnum’s London Dry Gin,
Tarquin’s Cornish Pastis,
Lemon, Fortnum’s Rosé Champagne Billecart-Salmon
The bar itself sits within The Royal Exchange, previously occupied by Lloyds Bank for the past 150 years until recently. The lobby area has been transformed into a selection of small, boutique, high-end shops and The Fortnum & Mason bar. The building has twice been destroyed by fire, rebuilt in the 1840s by Sir William Tite.
"Known as the father of English banking, wealthy merchant Sir Thomas Gresham establishes The Royal Exchange as London’s first purpose-built centre for trading stocks" https://www.theroyalexchange.co.uk/heritage/
Overall, a great visit and a lovely open space for a bar.
Fortnum & Mason does not disappoint.
The Nickel Bar
The Nickel Bar
“The Nickel Bar serves a menu of time-honoured American staples and classic cocktails from morning until the early hours. Drinks are the main event at The Nickel Bar, from world whiskies, rums and agaves to classic spirits, wines, beers and ciders plus, of course, champagne.”- https://www.thened.com/restaurants/the-nickel-bar
An undisputed classic, frequented by London’s inner city workers, The Ned simply had to be visited.
Previously home to The Midland Bank, The Ned has been transformed into a large hall host to bars and restaurants serving food and drink from all around the world. Though transformed, The Ned has kept key features of the bank, including quirks such as relics of the vault as you enter the toilet and large marble pillars. Spoilt for choice, we decided on The Nickel Bar, an American cocktail bar serving a menu of time-honoured American staples and classics throughout the day and into the evening.
The grandeur of The Ned is second to none, with live jazz music often played from the centre of the room from an imposing stage, hard to miss. A rich line-up of daily performances supports emerging acts to decorated musicians. The heritage building host the The Ned and it’s various restaurants was designed by Sir Edwin ‘Ned’ Lutyens in 1924. The building boasts nine restaurants, 252 bedrooms in 1920/1930 decor, a champagne lounge, members club and men’s/women’s beauty services. It is a well known fact that when Nick Jones, founder of Soho House & Co, first saw the building he instantly fell in love and knew he had to create The Ned. From the toilets to the bar stalls, it is evident attention to detail remains at the heart of maintaining The Ned.
The menu follows an American theme, with each drinks referring to an American place.
“The fifth volume of our cocktail list takes you on a trip across the USA and each drink is inspired by one of our favourite American cities.”
To begin, we tried the ABQ (Albuquerque). ABQ: Albuquerque, New Mexico Plata Tequila, Strega liqueur, raspberry, lime, cucumber.
Next we tried the 1776, our new favourite. 1776 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Grey Goose Le Citron, Italicus Bergamot, strawberry, lemon, Perrier Jouet
Though one of many bars within The Ned itself, The Nickel Bar is constantly busy and service matches accordingly. We didn't have to wait long to receive our drinks and they were made to a high quality. The breadth of the drinks menu ensured there was an option for all, served in classic coupe cocktail glasses. For a bar that could so easily be lost within the plethora of options, The Nickel bar held its own.
Tayēr + Elementary
Recommended by London’s best bartenders, Tayer Elementary had been in our sights for a while. Run by Alex and Monica, and located in Old Street, we were excited to see what this highly acclaimed bar had to offer. There are three parts to Tayer Elementary, two bars and one eatery. Tayer (which means workshop in Spanish) resembles a chemistry lab, providing an aura of endless possibilities and creations. Surpassing experimental, the menu could have been mistaken for a chemistry worksheet.
The creativity and diversity of the menu included ingredients from olive oil to ru pepper and oud. Though not your usual ingredients, the bartenders most certainly knew what they were doing when they crafted such a menu, each flavour compliments the other beautifully. Each drink we tried could not be more different from the other, though both were easy on the eye. To begin, we order their take on the classic and renowned martini, served in an exquisite glass fit for the likes of Bond.
As is common in the modern age of convenience and demand for drinks in busy periods, many bars now pre-batch their drinks (as we do our cocktails) to ensure customers aren’t left waiting, yet still receive high-quality cocktails. As such, the quality of pre-mixed cocktails in cans should also meet a high standard, though most fall short. This disparity is a huge issue, thus here at Thomas Tipple our mission is to fix such a gap in quality - putting bar quality cocktails on supermarket shelves ready to enjoy.
The Tata Easter serves a four person tasting menu, booked out months in advance, as such, we were unable to try it. Chef Zijun Meng from China and his partner in cooking Ana Goncalves from Portugal head up the kitchen, cooking up a storm.
The elementary part of the bar is casual, familiar and fast, though equally intriguing. Whereas Tayer is pushing all known cocktail boundaries, Elementary serves a more refined menu, catering to the classics. We had the chance to try the one sip martini, a truly great idea. We especially loved the olive with blue cheese inside. Overall, an amazingly experimental bar with a forward thinking brain at the heart of the establishment.