Purists, look away.
Preparing for the 100,000 it’s not a martini incoming emails. Of course, not everything that goes into a martini glass is automatically a martini. And yes, there are some hypertrad places in London where you’d be tried – and possibly kicked out – for trying to order some of the drinks on our list. But we’ve stayed true to what we consider the ultimate spirit of the martini: gin or vodka-based creations that are short, cool, sleek and fierce – and scornful of mixing their alcohol with anything that doesn’t. is not just another alcohol.
The dirty martini at Satan’s WhiskersBethnale Green
Satan’s Whiskers joins the elite ranks of bars where you can ask for it dirty and they automatically return it dirty. (See also: The Hoxton Shoreditch; Swift Soho; Silk Stockings, Dalston; Genesis, Whitechapel.) Plenty to do as a bar beyond their liberal way with olive brine – divey meets cabins romantic, all leather dimly lit and a bit seedy red light feel – but the dirty martini is off the menu off the menu.
Satan’s WhiskersBethnale Green
Vespers at Bar of DUCSMayfair
You may not have heard of Gilberto Preti, the bartender who supposedly created the Vesper, but you certainly know his most famous fictional drinker. Preti was working in the bar at Dukes Hotel in the early 1950s when he first invented the drink, for author Ian Fleming. Fleming was so impressed with the cocktail’s suave credibility that he wrote it up in Casino Royale. In the first Bond novel, 007 explains to a bartender how to prepare it: “Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet [now called Lillet Blanc]. Shake it very well until it is glazed, then add a large thin slice of lemon zest. I understood?’
Bar of DUCSMayfair
Martini breakfast at Anchor and HopeWaterloo
The martinis at this constantly crowded gastropub are simple little tumblers, all as dry, moist, clean or dirty as you ask. And all at around £7. Play it safe with a dirty and frosty martini or, if you’re feeling adventurous, check out their version of the breakfast Martini. It’s a divisive marmalade and a beast of lemon juice that tends to be overly sweet and in the wrong hands – but they really are the right hands. They also do a very good £7 Sazerac. Not a martini, but still feels important.
Anchor and HopeWaterloo
The Gibson Martini redistilled at The Gibsonold street
This green-glaze tiled bar is named after a martini whose olive was replaced with a pickled onion, created for artist Charles Dana Gibson in 1908. The same drink Cary Grant spills before dinner in North by Northwest. Unsurprisingly, the Gibson is their signature cocktail – and you can’t argue with the vinegar punch of the classic version. Or if you want to take advantage of the experimental philosophy of the bar, you can try the Redistilled Gibson – gin and vermouth, infused for 72 hours with pickled onion, lemon zest and pickled spices. Served with a small bowl of slices of Red Leicester. Not friendly for the first date.
The Gibsonold street
The lychee martini at Issho NiBethnale Green
The best lychee martini in London is, of course, the one you make yourself – vodka, splash of dry white vermouth, lychee syrup from the box, two lychees, a freezer-frosted glass – and drink in the bath, with a pack of Squares. The second-best lychee martini in London might just be the one from Japanese restaurant and bar Issho-ni: it can be ordered on its own, at the bar counter, but is best served in the restaurant, with a plate of lamb chops with gochujang or crab maki on the side. .
Issho NiBethnale Green
The classic martini HawksmoorSpitalfield
It’s more whiskey focused than martinis at Hawksmoor, but good for decadent classics of all flavors, they’ll make you a simple dry gin martini to rival any of their Scotch-centric roster. That’s probably true for all of their restaurants, but it’s a verified fact when it comes to their subterranean, moodily lit Spitalfields bar.
jack solomonsin Soho: Tucked secretly under a Soho steakhouse, the boxing-themed bar offers bottle service — beyond the usual full-size spirits — also includes six-serving cocktail carafes, for when you want that your martinis, negronis or manhattans are arriving in an uninterrupted stream.