Greater Than the Sum of Our Parts

a miscellany of the wonderful and the banal

Places to Drink in London

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Unpaid tourist board work and/or gushing endlessly about London continues! [I have been living in this city for 10 years this September and I am still not sick of it].


Green Carnation, Soho

An admirable partner to dinner at Balans and a good night out. Costly, flash, comfortable, and usually packed after about 7.30pm. The decor is incredible – greens and golds, flock and pannelling, squashy fireside chairs, a DJ for later in the night – and it has a bookable downstairs. Covered in Oscar Wilde quotes, with an extensive selection of cocktails to go with the enormous choice of spirits, wines and bottle beers. A gay bar with a slight lean toward professional, older men, but pretty much welcoming to anyone who fancies drinking there. I’ve celebrated my birthday in these environs several times, and quite frequently end up making friends doing so; barstaff are occasionally ditzy but attentive, friendly (and very easy on the eye). Worth the extra cash, particularly if you manage to steal one of the good seating areas, or book one for your party.

Three Compasses, Hornsey

A proper Local. There are two open fires, a decent amount of food, guest ales and wines, plenty of places to sit, and an apparently endless selection of activities taking place: I’ve been there for quiz nights, carol singing, big-screen sports, there’s a pool table, last time I ended up in there the back room had an Elvis impersonater … there is a “takeaway” service for two pints in a box if you so desire, and it’s entirely possible to spend all day in the pub vegetating on their extremely comfortable sofas. Barstaff range from efficient to friendly, and the set-up goes out of its way to make the place feel more like home than home does.

The Elk in the Woods, Islington

The website describes this Camden Passage hideaway as a “restaurant bar” but it is listed here under drinking places for the superb and delicious range of virgin cocktails it offers. The food is mid-to-good quality, but it is recommended as a mid-day stop-off while wandering the shops of Camden Passage, for both the drinks and the atmosphere. Try to grab the exceedingly comfortable armchairs by the fireplace as you come in, and don’t be put off by the large stuffed deer’s head hanging above you.

The BFI riverfront Bar, South Bank

Located directly under Waterloo Bridge on the South Bank of the river, right next to the excellent South Bank Book Market and within spitting distance of the National Theatre, this bar has become a favourite of mine in the last couple of years for many reasons: the location plays a great part, as does the year-round outdoor deckchairs allowing you to look out over the river while enjoying your drinks, but what’s kept me coming back are the friendly and inventive barstaff (on one occasion, unable to provide me with a strawberry daiquiri, one of the bartenders created a new cocktail for me), the seasonal cocktails, and the delicious pint-glass-of-sausage rolls. Obviously recommended for pre-screening drinks if you are attending a film at the BFI, but a worthwhile stop if you are visiting anywhere along the South Bank.

Post by Delilah. More recommendations can be found in the “where to go in London” tag.


Written by Amelia &/or Delilah

July 27, 2011 at 12:18 pm

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