Oscar Wilde was a fan of the bar at Kettner’s of old, where he rubbed shoulders with noblemen and their mistresses. But that was in the nineteenth century. Fast-forward to 2018 and the French restaurant and once-haut hangout is under Soho House’s wing. The new(ish) title of ‘Kettner’s Townhouse’ is symbolic of how the glory days are being evoked. That includes – charge your glasses – reinstating a champagne bar. Visit during what must be Soho’s swankiest happy hour. From 5pm to 7pm, a glass of blanc de noirs costs £7 while other aperitifs come in at a fiver.
The first thing you need to know about choosing a champagne bar is that the words ‘champagne bar’ may be the worst thing to look for. Some places with that name are just trying to put overpriced lipstick on a particularly plain pig. Do you really want to drink the world’s most expensive sparkling wine while watching people shop for shoes in a department store? We’d be more inclined to go for places that are really good bars and just do champagne well, even if it’s not their sole or principal offering. And hey! Some of them even include the C-word in their names. These things happen.