Most central London rooftop bars rely on their views – put a price on them, even – neglecting their booze offering rather than reaching for new heights. Aqua Spirit has things the other way around. It serves quality cocktails that (almost) justify the price tag, but in a sky-high setting that’s a little lacklustre.
A few classic yet unpredictable concoctions are executed well – try the Clover Club for a refreshing gin-based drink - but order from the list of cocktails inspired by Japan (from £12.50) to sample this bar at its best. The Yuzuana Bellini is particularly original, and despite its banana flavour, is balanced by dry citrus (yuzu) saké.
The rooftop bar terraces are set awkwardly at the opposite end of the room to the lift entrance and can only be accessed by sashaying through the slick Japanese restaurant. It’s a shame the terrace doesn’t have the same chic international style as the dark, sexy interior bar, circular in shape and ideal for perching and people watching. A few late-night daters drift up to the inside bar for a nightcap – for example hot young couples, some older men with toy boys in tow – but don’t venture out to the rooftop at all.
Meanwhile, out on the terrace, City boys, Mayfair lawyers and a handful of tall blondes keep warm by chain-smoking around patio heaters. It’s decked in dark colours and works so well for a moody sunset, but by the time evening sets in, the terrace is poorly lit and uninviting from behind glass doors. Like us, you may choose to cosy up inside instead.