2023's best bars in London, according to the Standard's critics

Going Out | Pubs, Bars and Nightlife

2023's best bars in London, according to the Standard's critics

After a stellar year for bar openings, both old and new, our critics pick their favourites

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Mike Daw2 minutes ago

Dozens of bars opened in London in 2023; our critics visited those they could. Some weren't quite up to par, but the less said about them the better, as others hit the spot with creativity, sincere service and delicious libations abound. Here's the very best of the year, listed in no particular order.

Claridge's Restaurant bar

Courtesy of Claridge’s

The re-opened restaurant bar got a thorough run-through when David Ellis ordered just about everything on (and off) the menu. Well, almost. “I’m not writing up this little restaurant bar because it has a long list of ideas; I’m writing it up because it is somewhere that will do exactly what’s wanted, no matter if obsolete or obscure, with no agenda to shift its own. And, moreover, it will do so perfectly.” Read the full review here.

Cocktails around £20. Brook Street, W1K 4HR, claridges.co.uk 



2023 was the year that nearly signalled last orders at Trisha’s. The veritable David vs. Goliath battle — Goliath being the council, and a few upset residents nearby — looked a close run thing for a while, but had a happy ending, with Trisha's being allowed to reopen after a few changes. Now everything is by the book, with membership cards and official-sounding rules. None of the old charm has left: “The truth of it is, you either love Trisha’s, or you haven’t been yet,” wrote David Ellis. Read the full review here.

Drinks from £6. 57 Greek Street, W1D 3DX, instagram.com 

Tiroler Hut 

Courtesy of Tiroler Hut

A veritable mini-Austria, Trioler Hut is another slice of London bar history, having first opened in 1967. A themed bar before themed bars were a thing, the slightly mad underground bar is the epitome of a drinking den, and back after a fire almost claimed it. As Josh Barrie recalled: “It is a place for raucous singing — one member of the team gave a husky rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody a little way into the evening — and for dance. Later on, reverie.” Read the full review here.

Drinks from £6. 27 Westbourne Grove, W2 4UA, tirolerhutrestaurant.co.uk 

Bar Lina

Press handout

Turning back the clock to a time of £10 cocktails (as opposed to the seemingly standard £18 these days) and to dark and sexy bars is the order of the day here. Sequestered beneath Lina Stores, Bar Lina won’t break the bank and might just make you fall in love. “The room is all sex-in-the-Sixties; it is Ronnie Scott’s dark, burgundy and espresso all over, bottles sat in a dressing room half-light,” said a wistful David Ellis. Read the full review here.

Cocktails from £9. 18 Brewer Street, W1F 0SG, barlina.co.uk 


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What connects Greta Thunberg, Yoko Ono, Benjamin Button and Albert Einstein? Whatever you were thinking, it's not that. In fact, they all serve as inspiration for a cocktail on the new Velvet bar at the Corinthia. Salvatore Calabrese has a claim to being the important bartender of the past 40 years, and his eclectic menu (worked up closely with the team) is nothing short of an acid-trip dreamscape made real — and astonishingly, delicious. Read the full review here.

Cocktails around £23. 10 Whitehall Place, SW1A 2BD, corinthia.com 

The Green Bar

Green Bar Hotel Cafe Royal
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Fin-de-siècle drinking made a seeming comeback this year, with Green Bar at the Hotel Cafe Royal returning absinthe to the popular consciousness. With a menu of oysters and caviar, alongside some of London's punchiest cocktails, this naturally proved a winning formula. “It is a drink with much the same reputation as dark alleyways; instinct intuits this is not the right path to take. Sometimes twice the strength of vodka, it can turn a night feral,” warned David Ellis. Read the full review here.

Absinthe from £10. 10 Air Street, W1B 5AB, hotelcaferoyal.com

Egerton House 

Egerton House Hotel

For those that care about such things, this is London’s best martini (and trust us, David Ellis really cares about such things). The drink arrives in a frozen glass, brimming, surface tension your only ally. The drink must first be consumed with a ‘kiss’ to ensure that the next sip can be taken with drink in hand. It’s a quiet, remarkable place. Read the full review here.

Drinks from around £20. 17-19 Egerton Terrace, SW3 2BX, egertonhousehotel.com 


Courtesy of Kwant

Undoubtedly London’s most anticipated bar re-opening of the year was Kwãnt (pronounced quaint), which set up new digs two doors down from Green Park station. Cocktails arrive courtesy the imagination of Erik Lorincz, regarded by most as one of the best in the world. Said an impressed but somewhat bemused David Ellis: “I can’t quite shake the feeling London hasn’t had a bar this radical in years.” Read the full review here.

Cocktails from £16.50, 52 Stratton Street, W1J 8LN, @kwantmayfair


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The diminutive basement bar is nothing new; it’s a tried and tested and successful recipe for good times. What Nipperkin achieves in their subterranean space, though, is something entirely better. A menu doesn’t make a bar, but what a menu. It’s seasonal without being boring, and creative without being an ego trip. Or, as Josh Barrie had it, “The Nipperkin is proof that the new can be exciting, without being far too much.” Read the full review here.

Cocktails around £20. 20 Berkeley Street, W1J 8EE; 20berkeley.com


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Sometimes life calls for a pint. It calls for friends to be gathered in a place that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Enter Gibney’s. The basement spot of sports screens and live music and a cracking Guinness is everything a good bar should be: the facilitator of a good time. Unfortunately, for David Ellis, that meant a few too many Port-and-brandies. Still, the bar sorted him out. “Nothing is exact. Seasons do not exist (it is always cosy midwinter), time is only ever a suggestion (it’s close to closing, but there’s time for a quick one), and even the location feels suspect.” Glorious. Read the full review here.

Pints from £5.80, 70 City Road, EC1Y 2BJ, gibneyslondon.com

Gothic Bar 


Living up to the grandeur of the space isn’t always a consideration of the bar team, but such is the vaulting architecture at the St Pancras Renaissance (and Midland Grand restaurant next door) that the Gothic Bar had to deliver. Fortunately, this is a place of exceptional service and immaculate drinks. “The name is a hint as to its style — this is romance in the gothic mould, which is to say the mould Dracula used, all impeccable manners and candlelight.” Read the full review here.

Cocktails from £14. St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, NW1 2AR, midlandgranddiningroom.com

Sidechick Brixton


A newer spot in Brixton, SideChick is somewhere for casual drinking. Not a destination of £20+ potions and diffusions and distillations and internationally acclaimed artisans; it’s for fun. In a London clamouring to take itself ever more seriously, SideChick is a bar with a pool table and a £11.50 Penicillin. Heaven. Read the full review here.

Cocktails around £11. 426 Coldharbour Lane, Brixton, SW9 8LF; @sidechickbar

Forza Wine

Caitlin Isola

There seems little not to love about the latest outpost of Forza Wine on the South Bank, the second to the Peckham original. Natural wine is de rigueur, but served alongside a considered list of beers and cocktails — all this is to say that, as Josh Barrie puts it: “Here is a superb bar for everyone: young and old, natural wine lovers and regular old lager drinkers alike. No judgment from me in any case.” Read the full review here.

Royal National Theatre, Upper Ground, SE1 9PX, forzawine.com