(Visit London Blog, 14 Nov 2013) When it’s cold outside, there’s nothing better than snuggling up in a cosy underground bar with a warming glass of whiskey or red wine. And luckily London is full of subterranean drinking nooks. Here are five of the best:
Located on a side street next to Charing Cross station, Gordon’s Wine Bar is a wonderful cave-like cellar bar, full of candlelit tables and hidden recesses. Established in 1890, it claims to be the oldest wine bar in London – and retains its old world charm with wooden panelling, historic memorabilia and traditional dishes on the menu. Gordon’s is hugely popular, so arrive early (4pm is suggested) to bag a table.
Down a flight of stairs on a street connecting Leicester Square to Covent Garden lies a little piece of Spain. At Salvador & Amanda you can drink excellent Spanish wines and sample delicious tapas. Plus with its fiery red interior you’ll soon forget all about the cold weather above at street level. Head down on a Tuesday for the Flamencana experience – which includes a cava reception, delicious tapas spread and live flamenco – you can even have a go yourself!
You’ve probably walked past Leicester Square’s Cork & Bottle many times without realising it was there, but once you’ve been you won’t forget it. Although this bar’s main passion is wine (there are more than 300 varieties to choose from), food is far from a second thought – with charcuterie and vegetarian plates to share, plus tempting mains like Butternut squash dumplings and pumpkin pesto and the always popular C&B ham and cheese pie.
Over the past few years, London hipsters have developed a taste for quirky underground bars with secret entrances, like The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town, Shoreditch speakeasy Nightjar and Callooh Callay. Evans & Peel Detective Agency in Earl’s Court ups the intrigue with an unusual entrance experience and delightful décor that’s straight out of a classic detective story. Make sure you book ‘an appointment’ in advance.
Hawksmoor is famous for its succulent steaks, but in the bar below its Spitalfields branch you’ll find it knows a thing or two about cocktails too. Like a 21st century gentleman’s club, Spitalfields Bar is a glamorous mix of dark wood tables, plush seating and reclaimed Art Deco features – and offers delicious bar snacks as well as a cocktail menu with fantastically named creations like Full Fat Old Fashioned, Nuclear Banana Daiquiri and Shaky Pete’s Ginger Brew.