London's LAB bar to close and re-open as new bar

Gaëlle Laforest

16 August 2016

We're not sure we can handle the loss of any more iconic London bars for a while. At least this one comes with a silver lining... Soho's iconic LAB bar is set to close next month, but will reopen later this autumn as a new bar. It will be run by Bobby Hiddleston and Mia Johansson, in partnership with Nightjar and Oriole's owners Edmund Weil and Roisin Stimpson.

LAB will close on 11 September, following a weekend of closing parties that will see some of the bar's best-loved alumni come back for final guest shifts.

Tim Stones, ex-LAB bartender and now global brand ambassador for Beefeater, said: 'LAB has been the start of many bartenders' careers. If you look at the alumnus of the place, it reads like a who's who of drinks industry legends. I was lucky enough to spend the best part of four eye-opening years there and it became a turning point in my career. I still proudly reference it any chance I get, such was its influence. LAB will always be a special place to me and I will be sad to see it go.'

The new bar will open in November, headed by soon to be husband-and-wife team Hiddleston and Johansson, who will oversee the concept and drinks list – it will follow the simple and classic style of drinks they've become known for throughout their time working at venues including Milk & Honey, The Dead Rabbit and Callooh Callay.

The partnership came from Weil and Stimpson, who had been looking for people with 'serious industry provenance' to take on this opportunity, and approached Hiddleston and Johansson. 'We’re very happy to be working with Bobby and Mia, they are both very talented and we can't wait to see their vision for the new bar come to life,' they said.

'We’re very excited for the project ahead and the new plans we have for a venue that we know means a lot to many in the industry,' Hiddleston and Johansson said. 'It’s great to be working with our new partners Edmund and Rosie, and we can't wait to join everyone for a final get together at LAB.'

'Having seen the passion and dedication that Bobby and Mia put into their drinks, service and venues I am looking forward to the great things they will do there. I will be among the first through the door,' Stones added.

The London Academy of Bartenders - which is what the name of the bar stands for - was created in 1996 by Douglas Ankrah and Richard Hargroves as a training school for bartenders in the capital. The school site turned into what is now LAB bar in 1999. It's been the training ground for many a known face in the industry, including Dre Masso, Andrea Montague, the late Gregor de Gruyther, Sean Ware, Alex Turner and many others.

Check out Twitter and Instagram for details of the LAB closing parties.

This story was edited on 16 August 2016, removing the reference that the Porn Star Martini was created at LAB. Rather it was created at Townhouse and popularised at LAB. 

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