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Sunday, 26 December 2010

2010: The Good. The Bad. The Ugly

In 2010, while bankers anticipated big fat bonuses as the FTSE hit near pre-Lehman levels,  the jeunesse not-so-doree worried about how they would pay for the education they would need just to secure a job as a traffic warden. Although some had predicted mass closures, new bars opened more regularly than Tesco Metro or Starbucks as London continued to party like a gin-swilling good-time girl. Here's my entirely subjective best and worst of the year.


1. Nightjar EC1
With superb cocktails and great attention to small detail, husband and wife-to-be team Roisin and Edmund's Old Street 1920s speakeasy dive/ music bar (pictured, above) got it right on every level  

2. Experimental Cocktail Club W1
With 3 hip bars in Paris,  this boho French invader in a Chinatownhouse late show might top my list - if only the cracking drinks were un peu moins cher, cheris.

3. Hawksmoor, Seven Dials WC2
Utterly compelling dark, clubby, butch zinc with big boy appeal and great 'tails spells Covent Garden 'classic'

4. Viajante E2
Portugeezer Nuno Mendes's grown-up Bethnal bar with killer snacks and excellent cocktails at Petticoat Lane prices. 

5. Beaufort Bar at the Savoy WC2
Somewhere between Dubai and Ralph Lauren, The new look Savoy comes on like a vulgar arriviste. The lighting in the American Bar turns cuties into corpses but Black Magic box, the Beaufort (pictured, right) rescues a bad design situation. Impeccable service alone justifies cripplingly high hotel prices.

6. Pepito N1
Jerez's finest; tasty tapas and an atmospheric approximation of a tiny back street Burgos bodega: y viva Espana!

7. Drink Shop and Do N1
It's not so much the limited cocktail range that impresses, more the quirky, fun and funky vibe at this old bathhouse/ brothel turned 1950s-style social club/ bring and buy sale (pictured, below).

8. Lonsdale W11
Its reinvention as 1961 Tiger Bay lounge a la Shirley Bassey was a welcome discovery. So too, competent mixology. If only Notting Hill would lose the self-absorbed, cokey mavens in regulation raven.

9. The Euston Tap WC1
Reason for Birmingham-bound beer bellies to delay their departure. It's all about the ale at this microscopic curio.

10. Purl W1
Many booze-hounds' first choice, although not necessarily mine. Trying-too-hard? Still, it would be churlish not to have included this fine establishment  in my top 10


1.Shaka Zulu NW1
I Shaka Khan't  believe the khantin' hideousness. Justin and Collin's idea for Soweto week at Matalan? (pictured, right) The vuvuzela is not the worst thing to emerge from Africa this year, oh no!

2.Roots and Kultured W14 in a petri dish? Not that you'd ever hang out in West Kensington anyway, but............

3.Eastside Inn EC1
Did introducing a last gasp bar that appeared to have been bought at the Crossroads Motel closing down sale help hasten this Clerkenwell gaffe's (sic) demise?


1. Moose W1
Moose by name......................

2. Minako at The Met W2
Pan Asian sophistication as imagined by Aneka (Japanese Boy)?

3. (Name of the actual bar within escapes me and as I'll never return, that's not hugely important) at the Hotel Rafayel on the Left Bank SW11
A crash landing next to Battersea heliport. Left Bank rhymes with right ****

4. Longitude 0.8
The Meridien Piccadilly's stab at classy hotel bar boasts decor that might be a visual merchandiser, sacked by Ikea's, idea of cool.