Best Bar Launches of 2014!

Happy New Year, all! (And Happy Bloody Mary day to readers!)

Welcome to 2015, doubtless another exciting year for the cocktail industry – but what about 2014?

2014 could be summarised by Art Deco design, rum, fat/butter-washing, aged cocktails and a steady return to shorter, more classical drinks – the Hoodooist can’t complain.

As for launches, man – 2014 was huge for those. Some bars that have opened quietly over the past couple of months but haven’t had an ‘official’ launch yet, or are not taking reservations yet are excluded from today’s article till their official launches in January 2015.

So let’s have a quick recap of some of the most exciting launches of 2014!

Click names for links to full reviews!

1. Agaveria El Nivel

Agaveria El Nivel, above Covent Garden’s La Perla burst onto the scene as *the* spot in London to explore tequila and mezcal. And with good reason – the expertly concocted cocktail list, alongside their Mexican food menu is exquisite. And their stock behind the bar reaches far and wide, even hosting some rarely seen tequilas outside Mexico, like Fortaleza. Not to mention their Sunday Sociedad Agaveria, where drinkers get opportunities to try out both newly released and imported agave spirits in an intimate atmosphere with knowledgable bartenders.

El Nivel, hosted by the Estes brothers, became the unofficial spokesperson for agave drinks, even hosting the Tequila Fest Press Preview (Click HERE for article!), working alongside the Mexican Embassy – all this playing a major part in tequila and mezcal being the drinks of 2015.

Must Try: The Mezcal Fix.


2. Bar Termini

The Marsala Martini

The Marsala Martini

It’s no secret that the Hoodooist is a major fan of Tony Conigliaro, and Tony’s new cafe and aperitivo bar in Soho enamours the Hoodooist as much as his other work.

Bar Termini channels a retro Italian sophistication, and makes the perfect spot to catch up or relax with a book on a quieter day. With an excellent selection of Negronis and some off the wall drinks like the Terroir, Bar Termini is a priceless addition to the Soho bar scene (and much needed to reinvigorate it).

Must Try: The Terroir.


3. The Bermondsey Arts Club

The Hit and Mist

The Hit and Mist

The South East needed a serious kick in the cocktail department, and luckily, 2014 saw a surge in cocktail bars in the London Bridge/Bermondsey area.

The Bermondsey Arts Club appeared mid-2014 in an unused public convenience in Bermondsey, now a sexy Art Deco jazz den.

When it first opened, the Hoodooist must admit the menu was not particularly impressive, but the new menu launched December 2014 hits all the right spots, and is easily one of the strongest menus launched in London this year. Major props to bartenders Milo, Jake and Adam who composed this brilliant menu.

Must Try: The Phra Phum.


4. City Social


Yes, Gareth Evans was back at the next Atherton venture in City’s Tower 42.

This black and gold Art Deco bar, overlooking London from the 24th floor, is one of the few high-rise bars the Hoodooist enjoys. House cocktails are typically Gareth Evans, quirky and puntastic, and tend to sweet or citrus – but there will be stronger and more bitter choices too. And do order classics here, their Martinez and Old Fashioneds are absolutely incredible.

City Social blows other high-rise bars out of the water.

Must Try: The Social Surgery.


5. PortSide Parlour


Though the pop-up PortSide Parlour at Broadway Market had finally come to an end, it re-launched on Shoreditch’s Rivington Street (a.k.a., Cocktail Highway).

Keeping it’s focus on rum, the PP took a step in offering drinkers a tapas side for an extra pound with every round, which is incredibly handy when bar crawling in the area. With masterful knowledge of the rums they dispense, the cocktails at PortSide Parlour appreciate a wide range of style from short and smoky, to tall and sweet.

Must Try: The Word of God.


Honourable Mention:


Three Sip Martini

Three Sip Martini

Mission, as an Italian restaurant and California wine bar, don’t pay as much attention to cocktails, but their aperitivos are incredibly well made. From their Sazerac to very short Three Sip Martini, you can always make sure you enjoy a great drink before assaulting their wine list and spectacular food offering.

A Bethnal Green necessity.

Must Try: Rum Old Fashioned.


So what do we have to look forward to in 2015 , readers?

Well for one, January will have the official launches of some excellent bars not mentioned here today (watch this space, the first review of 2015 will be one of these!).

We know one thing, tequila and mezcal scenes in London will become huge, so be prepared to ditch the amateur salt and lime for some agave realness.

Blood orange is in style folks, and I doubt beetroot is going anywhere either, the savoury-sour-sweetness is probably going to be the flavours we expect to see the most. As for technique? Cocktails will probably see a lot more experimentation in texture, pressurising and molecular infusing.

This is an exciting year, readers!

And that’s all folks! I hope 2014 has been as exciting for you as it has been for the Hoodooist – There is no greater tragedy than an empty cup, so don’t let your New Year’s Day hangover slow you down!

With all that London has to offer, you don’t really have time to slow down.

Happy New Year, all!


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