There's a few bars in London which feel like home, whether its your first time inside the front door or you have a dedicated bar seat with your bottom imprint sunk into the cushion. These are the bars which you sit down at and think 'I wish I came here more - why do I not come here more?' Bars so rock solid in their service and offerings they seem a part of the city's furniture.
Eschew the hottest new opening, the latest pop-up or the place the be seen and visit one these fabulous bars. Guarenteed you won't regret it.
1. Mark's Bar Soho
Find it: 66-70 Brewer Street, London, W1F 9UP
One of Soho's best cocktail bars, Mark's is a stalwart of the central scene and while some drinkers remember that very well, the rest of us tend to have little lapses in memory, especially when complaining of the lack of decent bars in the West End. Running with the theme best of British, the drinks here lean towards local recipes from years ago and are packed with plenty of delicious booze. It's a warm and comfortable basement filled with expertly-made cocktails and a great selection of gin and whisky. No more complaining about Soho - we just need to drink more in Mark's Bar.
2. Zetter Townhouse
Find it: 29-50 St Johns Square, London, EC1V 4JJ
Zetter Townhouse was all anyone could talk about in 2011-12 and then, suddenly London became obsessed with the next thing and that was that. But the bar remained just as formidable and each visit prompts that old question of why on earth we're not all still raving about the place? It's like the kitsch living room of wealthly aunt who knows how to stir down one helluva Martini and shake a few other concoctions to boot. Sumptious, intriguing, with stories to tell and drinks to quaff - this is still one of London's best bars.
Find it: 5 William IV Street, London, WC2N 4DW
There are wine bars and then there is Terroirs, a hommage to small and artesian winemakers from around the world. Here you will find the most aromatic, succulent and sumptious wines and dishes for incredibly reasonable prices. Food here is French-inspired with a rustic earthiness to it, indeed reviewer after reviewer has waxed lyrical about the duck skin scratchings, the rillettes, even the coarse toast with parsley-ballasted garlic butter. It's the type of place that you wished you had dinner at every night but somehow it ends up being an annual visit. Back to Terroirs we say, and much more frequently.
4. Discount Suit Company
Find it: 29 Wentworth Street, London, E1 7TB
It has some of the best cocktails alongside some of the best cheese in London. How do I not live here? Discount Suit Company is a tiny candle-lit basement bar off Petticoat Lane that is simply sublime. Drinks are ingeniously thought up and executed to perfection. Then to top it all off you can order a Neal's Yard cheese board. Everything from the crooked floorboards to the tailors dummy and the music is just right, making the place go off with a bang while still feeling intimate. More nights spent down here being racous please.
5. Scarfes Bar
Find it: 252 High Holborn, London, WC1V 7EN
Scarfes is a big high-ceilinged chamber of comfort and cocktails, decorated with marble, thick fabrics, grandfather armchairs, chandeliers and a beautiful fireplace. It was made for drinking in - something we wish we did a lot more. Cocktails are perfectly prepared, from whisky-heavy big boy drinks to lighter refreshing tipples. As it's a hotel bar you'll hear that familliar American voice ordering their Dirty Martini, which somehow adds even more charm to the whole experience. Oppulent yes, but affordable oppulence, in one of the most comfortable bars in London.
6. Dukes Bar
Find it: Dukes Hotel, 35 St James's Place, London, SW1A 1NY
Ok so it's vaguely impossible to get a seat in this minuscule bar, and the Martinis are ridiculous in all the right ways so perhaps it's best we don't spend every evening in here...but...imagine if you did. The old shcool glamour, the intimacy, Alessandro wheeling his trolley over with his frozen glasses, gin and those beautiful little twists of Amalfi lemon... it simply brings you to raptures.
7. Portobello Star
Find it: 171 Portobello Road, London, W11 2DY
If you live west this is possibly your most frequented bar but for everyone else, the Portobello Star remains one of those great drinking dens which we just don't get to enough. Apart from seriously good drinks the place is simply very fun - cheesy music, tequila shots and giant gin and tonics make for rowdy Saturday nights. One way to make a day out of it is to visit the Ginstitute upstairs, make your own gin, and then descend the stairs for even more booze. Possibly a dangerous idea, possibly the best one we've ever had. West is best!
8. 69 Colebrooke Row
Find it: 69 Colebrook Row, London, N1 8AA
Drinks at 69 Colebrooke Row are created with incredible amounts of finesse, so much so you can practically taste it in each drop of delicious liquid. It's a brilliant local for Islington residences but also a destination bar for those who enjoy craft and booze in equal measures. This is one bar that has never fallen off the radar, with the famed Tony Conigliaro at the helm it would be unlikely to do so, but we never get to it as much as we'd like to with its exceptional service and mouth-watering cocktails. And doesn't everyone need more Prairie Oysters in the their life? We think so.
Find it: 434 Kingsland Road, London, E8 4AA
A delightfully converted bank, Rotorino is a local Italian restaurant with an open-plan bar area serving great wines and aperitif-style cocktails. With industrial chic decor that still manages to feel homely and small plates of delectable cheeses, cured meats and sharply executed veggies, you can spend an entire evening at Rotorino quite happily grazing and imbibing. A real addition to the east London scene, it deserves our presence much more frequently than we currently give it.
10. Sager + Wilde Wine Bar
Find it: 193 Hackney Road, London, E2 8JL
There are so many fabulous things about this pokey wine bar on Hackney Road, with its rustic decor and flowing vino, but let's start with its wine, such delicious wine. With a reguarly updated list there's always something new to try by the glass no matter your palate or preference, rich reds, intense aromatic whites, zippy citrus or heavy tannins. To top it all off you can take bottles away with a discount. Secondly the food, nibbles of cheese, small seasonal plates and toasties dripping with melted cheddar. Infallible service and let's not forget its refurbed pavement bartop with its cool glass squares to trace while perched at the bar. One of the best, if only every night was a Sager + Wilde night.
11. Hawksmoor Spitalfields
Find it: 157a Commercial Street, London, E1 6BJ
It seems impossible that Hawksmoor Spitalfields has been open for 10 years, filling our lives with punches, cocktails and those insanely good triple cooked chips. Yum! We all know it's one of London's very best bars and it's always reassuringly there, serving great drinks and making merry, but we never get there enough thanks to the million and one pop-ups always happening around the area. With their new menu currently pumping out old favourites (if you haven't ordered a Shaky Pete's Ginger Brew from here then you simply haven't lived) and delicious new drinks such as their Sunset Sazerac it's the perfect reason to return for a few drinks and kimchi burger. Here's to another ten liquor-soaked, steak-filled years of Hawksmoor.
12. White Lyan
Find it: 153-155 Hoxton Street, London, N1 6PJ
White Lyan is one of those bars people tend to visit once and tick it off a list - proudly stating they've been to the slightly whacky no ice and no citrus bar in Hoxton. How wrong they are. White Lyan is a bar people should visit again and again, ourselves included, because each drink is more outstanding than the last. You'll experience remarkable flavours, innovative serves, a banging DJ booth and they even have their own wine now. Simply smashing. This wasn't just the latest fad but a whole new way of looking at booze and we're pleased as punch that it's stuck around.
13. Punch Room
Find it: The London Edition, 10 Berners Street, London, W1T 3NP
Punches are great; they're balanced, aromatic and always beautifully presented here in The London Edition. The space is equally fantastic, with banquets to sink into, a roaring fire place for the winter evenings and impeccable service. It feels intimate and discreet, as if you've been happily cut off from the rest of the city to sip booze and nibble on endless cheese bites. We deserve more visits to sit snuggled in a corner and let the hours slide by.
14. Satan's Whiskers
Find it: 343 Cambridge Heath Road, London, E2 9RA
Bethnal Green is often just that little bit too far away unless you live east, making this awesome little gem of a bar one we wish we drank at a lot more. Of course if you're a local then lucky you, for moments down the road you have £8 cocktails (unheard of in good London bars), banging hip hop music and the tastiest sweet potato fries for miles. Cocktails here aren't just £8 though, they're unmissably great, properly crafted classic drinks that are always balanced whether you're ordering a blended Pina Colada or a Satan's Manhattan. Devilishly good.
15. ECC China Town
Find it: 13a Gerrard Street, London, W1D 5PS
Possibly London's most beautiful bar, Experimental Cocktail Club is just south of Soho and we should cross Shaftesbury Avenue a lot more to take up residence in front of the bar and work our way through all the terribly delicious Parisian cocktails. Opulent, cosy, unique and wonderfully French this is the ultimate bar to visit when presented with the West End's streets of chain bars. We wish we came more often.