From long-awaited startender-owned venues to New York gangster-themed drinking dens, these are a few of the summer's top bar openings
The team behind Cocktail Trading Company has launched a macabre new venture in Soho. Murder, Inc takes inspiration from New York’s most famous contract killers from the 30s (cheery) and boasts drinks that are already impressing its peers. The bar’s signature drink is shaping up to be the Frozen Banana Ramos (see featured image) – blended rather than shaken, it’s less labour intensive for the team to make, and dangerously moreish for literally anyone to drink. The subterranean interiors are dark and slightly kitschy, and the vibe is, unsurprisingly, pure fun.
36 Hanway St, Fitzrovia, London W1T 1UP; instagram.com/murderinclondon
Rich Woods and Matt Whiley have had their well-worn hands all over the cocktail menu at new Notting Hill restaurant, Gold. With other industry big hitters such as head chef Theo Hill (The River Café), front-of-house team Alex Ghalleb (Pizza East) and Arez Akgundogdu (Soho House) it’s no wonder the venue was heaving at the opening party. Imbibe’s favourite cocktails were the Baklava Fizz and Penesquito. The former – comprising tequila, fig shrub, London honey, almond milk and soda – was well-balanced with just the right vinegar hit, while the latter (tequila, Benedictine liqueur) was nicely lifted by a thoughtful touch of sage.
95-97 Portobello Rd, London, W11 2QB; goldnottinghill.com
Black Rock Bristol
Shoreditch’s Black Rock has a new venue slated to open in July. As per the original, whisky will be a prominent feature (with a focus on highballs) and the builders have installed a 216-year-old oak tree to house and age 20 litres of the signature whisky cocktail at a time.
The Bristol outpost, which was formerly a barrister’s chambers, will be a larger premises than the original, meaning that potential for a draught beer setup is on the cards. The team was still hunting for bar staff as Imbibe went to press…
6 Marsh St, Bristol, BS1 1SD; blackrock.bar
Tayēr + Elementary
Dynamic bartending duo Alex Kratena and Monica Berg have opened Tayēr + Elementary near London’s Old Street. As the name suggests, there are two bar concepts at play here. Elementary is a light and bright bar, with bar-side and window seating, seasonal cocktails (think Rhubarb Highballs) and cocktails on draught. On the flipside, Tayēr (derived from the Spanish ‘taller’, meaning ‘workshop’) can be found behind a concrete partition and serves a more progressive, daily changing and elevated offering, using spirits made exclusively for the team. They bring a seriously strong glassware game, too.
152 Old St, London, EC1V 9BW; tayer-elementary.com
Long-awaited bar Kwānt is finally open. The project from superstar bartender Erik Lorincz and Mourad Mazouz launched at the end of May underneath Momo in Mayfair. Kwānt (the phonetic spelling of ‘quaint’ – you’re welcome), is the first solo venture from Erik Lorincz, and he’s handpicked a lineup of esteemed bartenders, including Stefano Agostino, Giovanni Tavano and Celia Bugallo, to help him.
Highballs, bespoke glassware and bar-grown garnishes will all play a part in the 24 alcoholic and five non-alcoholic serves on the menu. We’re told a lot of the garnishes will feature unusual herbs grown in-house via an Evogro system. The Vintage section of the menu has been reserved for rare and vintage spirits and champagne from Lorincz’s personal collection – you’ll find them in a wooden-panelled cabinet.
25 Heddon St, Mayfair, London W1B 4BJ; momo.london
A new bar in London’s Victoria is championing the art of fermentation and the big 2019 trend of mindful drinking. Headed up by general manager George Angelopoulos, The Soak features a signature menu that focuses on ‘soaked’ ingredients. Everything is made in-house and is incorporated into its cocktails from kombucha and kefir, to pistachio soda and shrubs. Of course, dealing with live cultures means that the team have to be careful when creating their serves. 'We have our own prep area for cross-contamination purposes, Angelopoulos told Imbibe on our visit. 'We test the ingredients ourselves first to see what shelf life they have [before producing on mass] and we have a separate fermentation room, too.' The Tahona (a twist on a Paloma) was Imbibe’s favourite of the menu, thanks to the punchy tepache.
Terminus Pl, Victoria, London SW1W 0RP; thesoak.co.uk
Wilderness Bar + Kitchen
Fresh from opening a record store in April of this year, Wilderness Trading is opening Wilderness Bar + Kitchen in Manchester’s Northern Quarter this summer. Specific details of the project are being kept schtum until closer to opening. What Imbibe does know, though, is that the core team behind the venture are alumni of some of the UK bar scene’s biggest hospitality hitters, namely Dan Morris (Cottonopolis), Bart Murphy and Mat Lake (Junkyard Golf Club) and Lyndon Higginson (Liars Group). There’s also a promise that ‘some of the best young F&B talent in the UK’ have been recruited.
30-32 Thomas St, Manchester, M4 1ER; wildernesstrading.co.uk
Brick Lane in London’s Shoreditch has a new pub, hotel and rooftop thanks to the guys behind nearby pub, The Culpeper. The Buxton’s pub-style restaurant sits on its ground floor and has local beers on tap, an approachable cocktail list and a interesting wine list. The Seasonal Club is what Imbibe thinks is a crowd-pleaser, offering a twist on a Clover Club and using seasonal jams made by the kitchen (ours was millennial pink with strawberries). The nutty Buxton Cobbler combines sherry with chai tea, while the Red Torch with those in search of a Negroni very happy. The wine list features three bottles under the heading 'Skin Maceration', and an 'Under the Counter' menu will give those with a more discerning palate a surprise offering from what looks like a pub.
42 Osborn St, Shadwell, London E1 6TD; thebuxton.co.uk
Bar Douro City
When Bar Douro landed in Flat Iron Square in 2016, it generated a love for Portuguese food and drink in London – so much so that this summer, Bar Douro City will be opening in Broadgate. One of the restaurant’s most-lauded offerings is its wine list. Restaurateur and owner Max Graham, whose family have been producing wine in the Douro Valley for over two centuries, and general manager Sol Leon work closely with their suppliers and curate a menu that includes Portuguese wines that aren’t available elsewhere in the UK. They follow a similar approach with their beers and spirits. But make sure you look out for their ‘cellar list’ – that’s where the funky shizzle be at.
1 Finsbury Ave, Broadgate, London, EC2M 2PP; bardouro.co.uk