The thirtieth Summer Olympiad brings much more than competition between the world’s top athletes to London. The games bring millions of visitors from across the globe who will be flooding the thousands of bars and clubs in one of the party capitals of the world.
It is common for Londoners to have memberships to private clubs such as the Groucho and the Arts Club. You won’t have access to these and on the other end of the spectrum it’s wise to avoid the tourist traps. Here is a look a some establishments worth drinking at:
69 Colebrooke Row: This corner bar on a backstreet in Islington is so low key, you may miss it. It’s home to Tony Conigliaro, one of the U.K.’s foremost barmen. He creates the cocktails in a laboratory a few blocks away and you’d have to scour London to find a list to compare. If you want amazing concoctions served without attitude, this is the place. 69 Colebrooke Row and the Connaught Bar are finalists for World’s Best Cocktail Bar at Tales of the Cocktail awards inNew Orleans on July 28. Signature drink: Prairie Oyster (8.50 pounds). http://69colebrookerow.com/
Bar Boulud: This casual restaurant of New York chef Daniel Boulud, at ground level in the Mandarin Oriental hotel, is known for its great burgers. It’s also a convivial venue for a drink. If you can grab a seat at the bar, you’ll probably end up chatting with staffers and fellow customers. There’s no pressure to order food, though I rarely resist. Signature drink: White Cosmopolitan (13.25 pounds). http://bit.ly/Nj25gL
Boundary: This hotel’s rooftop bar in East London is popular in the summer. There’s seating around an open fireplace and there are blankets if it gets chilly. The views are panoramic and the youngish crowd is friendly. There’s also a 48- seat grill restaurant. Signature drink: Rooftop Garden (23 pounds for a pitcher). http://www.theboundary.co.uk/rooftop/
Callooh Callay: This quirky Hoxton cocktail bar has a secret. Most of the establishment is reached via a wardrobe in the front room. Nothing dates as quickly as fashion and it’s to the owners’ credit that Callooh Callay hasn’t lost its cool. This is one for our younger readers. Callooh Callay is a finalist in New Orleans for Best Cocktail Menu. Signature drink: If You Don’t Gnome Me by Now, punch bowl, (55 pounds).http://www.calloohcallaybar.com/welcome/
The Dispensary: This East London pub and dining room was built in 1858 to house the Eastern Dispensary, founded by the Duke of Wellington to provide medical care for the poor. The current owner, David Cambridge, was once a chef to Conrad Black and the British Royal Family. Cambridge and his wife Annie bought the place in 2006 and have restored it — but not much. It’s pleasingly rough around the edges. Signature drink: Florence NightingAle (3.30 pounds). http://www.thedispensarylondon.co.uk/