Best new cocktail bars in London 2022, from Nightjar 2.0 to Mr Lyan’s latest

·4-min read
Follow the light: the London Abandon Ship looks to be something of a party bar  (Press Handout )
Follow the light: the London Abandon Ship looks to be something of a party bar (Press Handout )

Over the past two years, largely most of the attention has been paid to restaurants and pubs, but bars have had a rougher time of it than most. Pulsing signs of life have been there — last year was a good year for drinking, if you looked for it — but broadly speaking, the industry has been down and out.

If, though, Omicron is indeed marking the final slinking off of the pandemic, then this year might mark a happy turnaround.

At present, whispers of places abound: there’s somewhere called Thin White Duke apparently opening, presumably with more than a few nods to David Bowie; the Swift team are said to have something up their sleeves; and the Crobar may be gone from Soho but, with more than £100,000 raised, owner Richard Thomas is still on the hunt for a new site to revive the late night institution. While Raffles at the OWO has confirmed it will open with 11 new restaurants and bars, so far only three restaurants have been confirmed, but news is sure to follow of the others shortly.

In other words, this year should see the bar industry wipe down its counters, carve up the ice and get back to it at full pelt. It’s very good news. We’ll see you out there.

Silverleaf

 (Lateef Photography)
(Lateef Photography)

Opening later this month — though these things always have a way of rolling back a couple of weeks — this one is headed for the Pan Pacific London hotel by Liverpool Street. The spot has been dreamt up by a team of faces familiar to anyone into their bars. Martyn “Simo” Simpson, owner of Milroy’s in Soho, put it together with his one-time colleague Chris Tanner. Tanner will now be Silverleaf’s general manager, with Liam Broom as bar manager. Broom comes from Callooh Callay — themselves rumoured to be working up a fourth site for 2022 — and will oversee a menu taking its cue from nature. Expect a fair number of foraged ingredients and fiddly bits.

80 Houndsditch, EC3, panpacific.com

Abandon Ship

A Scottish import, this one. The Abandon Ship bars have proven a hit in Dundee and Glasgow and this month is open in Covent Garden with its menu Irn Bru and tattie scones — no, I’m not taking the piss. With room for 44, it actually all sounds rather fun and looks from the pictures to be a good-time place. The focus will be on rum, the party spirit, and it’s set to be the first of a few: the owners, MacMerry300, are looking to Abandon Ship six more times over the year.

63 Neal Street, WC2, @abandonshipbar

Holy Bar

Opening on February 4 and hidden behind a door inside Knightsbridge vegan restaurant Holy Carrot, this spot will offer serves which, they say, are “inspired by mother nature”. The drinks will be “spellbinding botanical cocktails without the need for refined sugar or artificial colours.” It seems spellbinding is the key word here, as the bar’s Instagram account is promising plenty of magic; expect crystals, candlelight and, apparently, the smell of fire and white sage. Sounds like it’ll be one of those dark, cosy spots to curl up in.

2-4 Hans Crescent, SW1, holycarrot.co.uk

Seed Library

 (Jennifer Chase)
(Jennifer Chase)

Ryan Chetiyawardana, Mr Lyan, remains among the world’s most influential bartenders. When he opened White Lyan in 2013, it marked a turning point in the way things were done; there was no ice, no fruit, nothing perishable. The “pre-mixed” moniker stopped being something to be ashamed of. His career hasn’t slowed since, but he hasn’t launched a new bar since 2019. Now, as the old Ace Hotel becomes One Hundred Shoreditch, Chetiyawardana opens Seed Library. There are scant details at present, but don’t expect flash or glitz; the project, they say, will be marked by a “lo-fi, analogue approach to bartending”. Set for February.

100 Shoreditch High Street, E1, mrlyan.com

Nightjar II

Nightjar was once similarly influential to Chetiyawardana, as it ushered in the rebirth of the speakeasy. While this influence has somewhat ebbed — their formula proved so successful it was copied to the point of dilution — it’s still terrific news that a new one is on the horizon. There are practically no details floating about at present, but the original made its name on classic and forgotten cocktails and plenty of live music, so it’s not entirely off to speculate we may be getting more of the same. The rumours are that this one is set for Kingly Court, on the Carnaby side of Soho.

West End, exact location TBC, barnightjar.com

Wolfox

Next to the Savoy is the famous Savoy Taylors Guild frontage; the shop shut last year, but the space is being revived by Wolfox, a group with sites in Brighton and Leeds. In Brighton, it’s said to be more of an all-day coffee shop that turns into a restaurant come the evening, but for London the promise is a cafe and wine bar, with a focus on the organic stuff. Craft beers will be served, too. An opening date is yet to be announced.

93-95 Strand, WC2, @wolfoxcoffee

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