From vintage-themed fairgrounds to debauched underground drinking dens, we’ve whittled down our pick of the best new bars, cocktail dens and late-night party palaces popping up in London this month, guaranteed to quench your thirst come Friday night…
Circus XO, Mayfair
David Muñoz’s divisive fusion restaurant StreetXO has launched its own experimental cocktail bar, CircusXO, and it’s just as whacky and flamboyant as the Michelin-starred Mayfair eatery. In keeping with StreetXO’s theatrical menu – a clever, unusual fusion of European, Asian and South American cuisine – drinks are kitsch and quirky adaptations of traditional tipples, but deconstructed with a fusion of flavours that make you feel like you’re sampling an actual dish. In fact, they call it ‘liquid cuisine’. Mind-boggling concoctions include The Mythic Tom Kha Kai – galanga, coriander, kaffir lime, chili, flying fish roe and coconut; Spicy & Smoky Margarita – wild jabalí mezcal, triple sec, Josper-smoked chilli shrub and worm salt; Liquid Madrizzzzz's DiverXO – violet shrub, lime, ginger and jasmine perfume; and Yellow Curry – saffron, ginger, lemongrass and basil. Just like the food, David’s elaborate cocktail list is guaranteed to shock, surprise and delight. Tempted much?
15 Old Burlington Street, Mayfair, W1S 2JR
London Cocktail Club, Liverpool Street
Nicknamed “the lock-in at the freak show,” LCC’s latest arrival is a playground of nostalgia, promising all the fun of the fair. A pleasure-filled carnival where circus shows and boozy cocktails align, the vintage fairground-themed basement bar is haunted by Zoltar – Tom Hanks’ fortune telling robot from Big – whilst big top-styled faux leather banquettes, Ouija board tables, creepy ventriloquist clowns and flickering multi-coloured lights set the scene. Sip cocktails under the watchful eyes of contortionist portrait paintings, look out for the tiger’s cage, and – if you’re brave enough – step into the Zoltar machine to see what your future holds…
206-210 Bishopsgate, London EC2M 4NR; open from 14th November
The Racketeer, Clerkenwell
Part local boozer, part sexy cocktail den, Clerkenwell’s newest addition comes dripping in Victorian charm. Painstakingly restored to its former 18th-century glory, with original tiling on the floors, this homely hangout has a laid-back vibe perfect for a wine-fuelled Sunday sesh. It's ideal for first dates too, with a cosy walled garden and intimate tables for two. There’s a short and sweet wine list, a small selection of craft beers and their own dedicated bottle shop serving up an unusual array of wines. Cocktails come in the form of the Matador with tequila, grapefruit and lime, and the Jaffa Collins with gin, lemon and orange bitters, whilst food is served sharing-style with a selection of charcuterie and cheese boards.
105 King’s Cross Road, Clerkenwell, WC1X 9LR
This party palace has hosted everyone from Prince Harry to Rhianna, fuelling A-listers with tequila and frozen margaritas night after night. And to celebrate five years of raucous revelry, Sloane Square’s legendary Tontoria is relaunching with a brand new look. Inspired by the overgrown walls of the Tulum jungle, this decadent drinking lair will be filled with foliage, along with hidden dark corners and a giant Day of the Dead skull, where the DJ will set up camp to work his magic on the decks. Elaborate performances will take place, dazzling the crowds with an array of outlandish acts – if you’ve been to Tonteria before you’ll know only too well how much they love their skin-baring theatrics – and there’s a big VIP area for discerning drinkers… and all those celebrities.
7-12 Sloane Square, Belgravia, SW1W 8EG