ON is most definitely on the move, with a plethora of openings across the city. For adventurous spirits, head to Islington, where new cocktail bar Hoxley & Porter launched last week. Fashioned to resemble a deluxe train carriage from the halcyon days of African exploration, the room is one of a kind, featuring a dark teak bar clad in gold leaf, leaded glass, bespoke wallpaper with exotic ephemera and an easy charm. The most astute fixture at the bar, however, is drinks wizard Michael Pendergast. Borrow a page from Nietzsche and sample his Whatever Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger, a colour-changing libation that comes complete with an absinthe-coated scorpion functioning as the catalyst.
For those who prefer vino to invertebrates, there’s 28-50 in Mayfair. Opened by the brains behind Michelin-starred Texture and following on from the success of its two sister restaurants/bars, this newest opening is spread over two floors with a stripped back, timber-clad, open-plan design that’s as elegant as it is inviting. Where 28-50 Maddox Street comes into its own is bubbles. The upstairs area will feature a champagne bar with over 50 vintages available.
Alternatively, for wine amongst the bearded and skinny-jeaned, head to hip Hackney Road where Sager & Wilde recently opened. With high ceilings, de rigueur exposed brickwork and reclaimed lighting, it looks the part, and the wine list is substantive and reasonably priced to boot.
Celebrated bartender JJ Goodman opened his third London Cocktail Club just off of Oxford Circus, where he aims to put the fun back into mixology. The vodka-led basement joint takes inspiration from 1990s downtown Los Angeles; the Gangsta’s Paradise-themed bar is pimped out with gang artwork, red and black lumberjack shirt upholstery, bandana clad graffiti girls and even a neon Jesus. Rumour has it that there’s a secret back room in the mix and a new venue in Shoreditch in Goodman’s crosshairs.
Nearby on Wardour Street, Coal Vaults launched in a 19th century storage space for – you guessed it – coal. It pays homage to its origins with a design hinging on utilitarian materials like copper, steel, timber and brick. For those who prefer to drink in a discreet and intimate environment, there are five separate vaults where you can enjoy cocktails prepared with homemade infusions.
Tim Badham is the founder of Innerplace, London’s personal members only lifestyle concierge.