There’s no place like the River Thames when it comes to seeing the British capital in all its glory, and there’s no better way of taking in those awesome views than with a drink in your hand. Fortunately, this is a truth not lost on London’s bar impresarios, who’ve been busy in recent months opening a flurry of top-notch venues in this sought-after part of town. So, all together now, “Take me to the river!”
Expect high style and effortless cool at bar maestro Ryan Chetiyawardana’s – aka Mr. Lyan – new venture at the Mondrian London at Sea Containers. The award-winning mixologist opened White Lyan in London’s Hoxton in 2013 and Henry, a Liquor Bar, in New York the same year. This unstoppable force brings his innovative style to Mondrian London, with a cocktail menu divided into cereals, vegetals, minerals and florals that call on a whole host of unusual ingredients. For example, there’s the Elderfir and its blend of douglas fir and grapefruit, tonic, Kamm & Sons aperitif and tequila. And we love the subtle dandelion flowers found in the Ford & Warner. With interiors by UK design superstar Tom Dixon, Dandelyan is a treat for the eyes and taste buds alike.
Gŏng at Shangri-La at The Shard
It’s all about the views at London’s highest bar, which makes up just one of the impressive wining and dining options at the recently opened Shangri-La at The Shard. Located on the skyscraper’s 52nd floor, Gŏng offers 360-degree views of the capital, from the River Thames running directly beneath it to Canary Wharf, Windsor Castle and beyond. The awe-inspiring address serves pretty special cocktails, too. Presented with a dramatic puff of dry ice, The Big Smoke, a combination of gin, sherry and vermouth, is a real experience of a drink. You can also choose from five champagnes available by the glass, plus a rare delight, an English sparkling wine from Ridgeview wine estate in Sussex. A menu of small plates, open sandwiches, salads and desserts includes tangy wasabi and ginger-cured salmon with yuzu cream and watercress on toast, fragrant rosemary focaccia with roasted vegetables and a decadent selection of chocolaty treats.
A relaxed atmosphere rules at this new bar at the National Theatre. Opt for a comfortable sofa or armchair as you look out through the floor-to-ceiling windows or grab a seat on the river terrace. Locally brewed and independent beers (think Redchurch Brewery’s Bethnal Pale Ale or Fourpure Pilsner from Bermondsey) are the order of the day, but you’ll find a range of wines by the glass, cocktails and London-distilled spirits as well. A good spot for refueling after a riverside walk, The Understudy is also the kind of place where you can find yourself whiling away the afternoon with a good book. Hang out later and the place will begin to fill with actors and crew from the National Theatre as they pop in for a drink after their shows have finished for the night.