London speakeasies

Words by Jane Ryan

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Some say the speakeasy is dying, others predict its longevity. One thing is for certain, the public has fallen in love with the concept of a hidden bar.

Why are we fascinated by bars behind bookshelves, wardrobes and fridges? Maybe it's because everyone likes to think they're in possession of treasured knowledge, information only handed down to a select few. It's the exclusivity factor.

London is saturated with these type of bars. Here are the ones that truly stand out, not for being concealed but because they are great bars with all the trimmings; service, drinks, atmosphere. If the speakeasy is dead, or heading that way, these will be the survivors.

Central - Milk & Honey

This is without a doubt London's best known speakeasy, but luckily that doesn't negate it's status as one of the best. Sasha Petraske opened the original Milk & Honey in New York back in 2000. The London sibling was established by Jonathan Downey in collaborating with Sasha.

Its austere exterior and lack of signage, plus the bell push entry and lobby confer a satisfying feeling of entering a seedy den. The winning factor about Milk & Honey is that once you're past the novelty factor of the entrance, inside is a brilliant bar with great drinks.
Read our full review here

East - The Nightjar

Typical of modern speakeasies, this basement bar's entrance is secreted between two cheap fast food joints just a few steps away from the otherwise insalubrious environs of Old Street roundabout, and boasts all the requisite elements of an upscale cocktail lounge with a few added bonuses.

Renowned drinks come curtesy of world class bartenders and the service is always spot on. Book a table and discover what all the buzz is about.
Read our full review here

West - Evans & Peel Detective Agency

Just as everyone in the bar industry is yawning away and saying how tired they are about speakeasies, then along comes the Evans & Peel Detective Agency, a bar hidden behind a bookcase in the 'office' of a private dick. And, actually, it's pretty good - and about as genuine a speakeasy as we've seen in a long while.

We enjoyed our detective experience. In fact, if it is was delivered in a half-assed, predictably British way it would have been a lesser experience.
Read our full review here

The City - The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town

A 'secret' hidden basement speakeasy reached via a Smeg fridge from The Breakfast Club restaurant on the ground floor, which incidentally, is named after the owner's favourite episode of Cheers.

Drinks are well made, well-presented and arrive in a timely manner, served by friendly staff. Don't exit via the fridge - that would give the game away.
Read our full review here

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