Burlington House, Piccadilly, London, W1J 0BD, United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)20 7300 8000
Website: Not supplied
Hours: Monday-Thursday 11.30am-11.30pm; Friday-Saturday 11.30am-Midnight; Sunday 11.30am- 5.30pm (Friends only daily until 4pm)
Door: Open door
Style: Cocktail bar
Recommended for: Cocktails
Price guide: Middling
Food: Bar snacks
This one-room bar in the bowels of the Royal Academy is a hidden gem, home to a secret garden, a host of truly original, fresh botanically inspired cocktails and some genuinely homely service.
Find your way in by following the neon 'Keep me safe' sign (an original Tracey Emin, don't you know) in the courtyard. This leads you in to the Keeper's House wing, once the grace and favour residence of the academy's head. Find the lift - it enters directly into the bar, where a professional set-up (no crappy apology for a bar here) provides the focal point for the room.
The cocktails are genuinely inventive. Presented restaurant-style, listing the ingredients but with no names, it's the epitome of foraged Englishness, with hedgerow fruits, garden herbs and esoteric ingredients such as cider vinegar and rosehip. Despite the ingredients, it avoids twee or rustic-style drinks but serves accomplished cocktails, classic in style.
The main sticking point is that its locale within a gallery mean it can feel a little hushed - certainly the grey-haired crowd on our visit didn't make for a particularly lively atmosphere - but as time goes on there's interaction between tables and the welcome from the staff is personal and warm.