Discover the classiest classic concoctions, most thrilling new tipples and marvellous mixes with this guide to the best bars and cocktails of KnightsbridgeWords: Jane Fulcher
The best bars and cocktails of Knightsbridge
When aesthetics are everything
Blue Bar at The Berkeley
This sophisticated spot at The Berkeley Hotel serves cocktails as striking as its David Collins-designed interior and Lutyens Blue colour scheme. Pick something from the Meta Menu of concoctions grouped by colour – green for fresh, blue for crisp, red for bold and gold for bubbly. The experts at Blue Bar use a thrilling combination of ingredients to devastatingly delicious effect – try the heady, woody and refined Shiso Mine, crafted from Jack Daniel’s single barrel, plum, red sandalwood, shiso and Martini Bitter; or the refreshing and complex Nostalgia, a mix of Graham’s White port, blueberry, pineapple and Helena Empirical Spirit (a Danish koji-based spirit reminiscent of schnapps).
The Berkeley, Wilton Place, SW1X 7RL; the-berkeley.co.uk
For otherworldly glamour
The Baccarat Bar at Harrods
Stepping into this speakeasy-style bar via its private entrance on Hans Crescent feels like entering a lost world of sparkling glamour. Red velvet, glittering chandeliers and leather banquettes serve as the perfect background for exquisitely crafted cocktails served in Baccarat crystal. Each of the bar’s signature cocktails has been designed to evoke a different emotion, including the creativity-spiking Mind Over Matter, a mix of Maestro Dobel blanco tequila, papaya vermouth, sencha tea, pine nut and gentian root; or the positivity-engendering Tryptophan Fix made from Monkey 47 gin, soy cashew distillate, banana water, spinach cordial and soda water. Like many of the bar’s signature drinks, the Tryptophan Fix also comes as a non-alcoholic cocktail made with Atopia Wild Blossom in place of gin.
Harrods, 87-135 Brompton Road, SW1X 7XL; harrods.com
For something truly bespoke
The Aubrey at Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London
Calling itself an eccentric Japanese izakaya, The Aubrey offers a selection of innovative Japanese and Asian-inspired cocktails designed by its lauded bar director Pietro Rizzo and served alongside delicious dishes. For a truly unique night, reserve the Omakase Cocktail Experience, the first of its kind in London, in which guests are taken on a two-hour personalised journey through Japanese spirits and inspired cocktail creation in a secret six-seater bar. Or simply choose from The Aubrey’s ‘Yellow Book’ menu, named after the legendary literary periodical of which the bar’s namesake Aubrey Beardsley was art editor. True to its name, cocktails are inspired by works of literature or art including Salome, crafted from sake, rice shochu, Etsu Pacific Ocean Water gin, tomato liqueur and umami; and the Sotoki made from Etsu Pacific Ocean Gin, fig cordial, lime and carbonated salty pear juice.
Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London, 66 Knightsbridge, SW1X 7LA; www.theaubreycollection.com/london/
A true classic with a twist
The Library Bar at The Lanesborough
Billing itself as a “liquid museum” of spirits and home to cognacs that date back some 250 years, The Library Bar at The Lanesborough Hotel is a temple to the art of cocktails. With a design that evokes Regency London, The Library Bar has plenty of traditional charm but under the leadership of bar manager Mickael Perron remains forward looking in its cocktail shaking. Highlights include twists on classics such as the Gaspari Manhattan, made with The Balvenie 14-Year-Old Caribbean Cask stirred with Lanesborough vermouth blend, New Orleans bitters, and finished with flaming rosemary washed with Bénédictine. The serve is as impressive as the taste, with the flames from the burning rosemary contrasting with the ice ball in the glass below.
The Lanesborough, Hyde Park Corner, SW1X 7TA; oetkercollection.com
For a night out, New York style
Nolita Social at Bulgari Hotel
Tucked away beneath Sette Restaurant, Nolita Social offers a proper night out with DJs, live music and immaculate vibes that seem transported directly from the Big Apple. Importantly, Nolita Social also serves great cocktails including a lot of fun and cheeky twists on the classics, such as the “Tini” To My Apple, made from Convite mezcal, apple cordial, Noilly Prat, and Tio Pepe sherry; and the Tequila Sunset, crafted from Volcan Blanco tequila, Cocchi vermouth, Campari and citrus.
The ultimate pre-, post-, and during-dinner choice
Whether you’re booking in to have one of the city’s best steaks, or just want to drop by for a drink, the cocktails at Hawksmoor Knightsbridge are some of the best in the area. The bar itself is low lit and comfortable in a clubby way with friendly and knowledgeable service. Try one of the Ultimate Martinis, each of which is chilled to a refreshing -12℃. The Japanese Delmonico is perhaps the most intriguing take on the martini: a floral and citrus combination of Kinobi Kyoto gin, Schofield’s dry vermouth and yuzu bitters. You also can’t go wrong with one of the Sacred Six, the cocktails that will always be on Hawksmoor’s menu and the highlight of which might be the deliciously rich Fuller Fat Old Fashioned, made with Woodford Reserve bourbon, salted brown butter and tonka bean.
Hawksmoor Knightsbridge, 3 Yeoman’s Row, SW3 2AL; thehawksmoor.com
A true hidden gem
109 Bar + Kitchen
You may be well aware of the Fifth Floor dining establishments at Harvey Nichols but did you know about the clandestine 109 Bar + Kitchen tucked away on the lower ground floor? This informal and modern space oozes Scandi-chic with a selection of creative cocktails, light bites and sandwiches. And if you’re a fan of Japanese Whisky then don’t miss the Yamakazi Flight Experience at 109 Bar + Kitchen, where an expert will take you through the 2022 Yamakazi Limited Edition Tsukuriwake Selection.
109 Bar + Kitchen, Harvey Nichols, 109 – 125 Knightsbridge, SW1X 7RJ; harveynichols.com
Jane Fulcher is contributing editor of drinkspiration website The Mixer