What makes the best bars in London?
The answer is you – because what really makes a bar great is how you’re feeling and what you’re looking for on any particular evening.
You could find yourself in a dark, dingy, sweaty dive where the cocktails are as monumentally bad as they are expensive…but if you meet the love of your life there then you’ll always remember it with a warm glow.
You could be in a friendly, stylish bar, surrounded by interesting, exciting people, sipping one of the very best cocktails in town…but if you get jilted there it’s never going to make it onto your list of best bars.
But given an even playing field, not tainted by the vagaries of fate and relationships, what makes a great bar? Well, it’s still different strokes for different folks. Me? I like bars with sophistication and intrigue. I like friendly, welcoming bars. I like bars where you’re treated with just the right amount of relaxed respect by the staff.
The cocktails have got to made by someone who knows what flavours work well together – not by an amateur throwing together an unholy mixture of radioactive ingredients with a name that should be in a porn mag.
That barman (and he is a barman, not a mixologist or some such twaddle) is knowledgeable, friendly without being familiar and preferably from somewhere you can’t quite put your finger on (I’m thinking more Napoli than Nuneaton).
Of course, in your best bar you don’t just have to drink cocktails. Malt whisky or real bourbon is just fine. Absinth will do nicely. Champagne is acceptable. But wine? Well, wine goes with food and a bar should not be a restaurant, in the same way that a wolf shouldn’t be a shepherd.
And I’m afraid beer is out… now, I like it just as much as the next bloke, even more perhaps, but a pint of bitter, or even imported lager, just doesn’t sit comfortably in a bar. It’s a pub drink. And here in London a pub is a pub and a bar is a bar.
In my best bar there are always beautiful and mysterious women and handsome, men lurking around. There are no wannabe wags, pretend playboys, lager-fueled lads, subnormal sloanes or boorish bankers.
People don’t get drunk. Because real men and classy women know how to take their drink, and when they do take it, they get interesting, enticing, funny and flirtatious.
The lighting is dim, the seating sumptuous, and yes, you can always find a little alcove or booth to settle into, because my best bar is always buzzing, but never too busy.
So, in my book, that’s what makes the best best bar, and I’ve got to say it’s just my own opinion. You, on the other hand, might like a wild, raucous, fun-filled, Coyote Ugly type bar…or a secluded, intimate and sexy spot where a romantic encounter can be conducted incognito. The truth is, you might like them all at different times – depending on whether you’re with your best mates, your soul mate or a first date.
But the perfect bar? There’s only one place you’ll find that…in your imagination.