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time out london bar awards winners, dandelyan

The winners of the Time Out London Bar Awards 2016

Hippest, classiest, most creative: which cocktail bars proved the ultimate toasts of the town?

By Time Out London Food & Drink
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The crème de la crème of London's bar talent gathered together under one glitzy roof for the inaugural Time Out London Bar Awards. We unveiled the winners of seven awards recognising bartending achievement across the board. Our judges (who couldn't vote for any of their own establishments, of course) plucked out showstoppers and trailblazing newcomers in categories that celebrated everything from super-slick service to that can't-quite-put-your-finger-on-it cool factor. The one thing they agreed on? This city's cocktail scene has got it going on.

RECOMMENDED: Read our full guide to the Time Out London Bar Awards 2016

Meet London's best bars

Woodford Reserve presents Bar of the Year

Bars and pubs Fitzrovia

Punch Room at the London Edition

The victor nailed it because of its the old-school glamour, the classic-yet-cool drinks and the overwhelming sense of occasion. Retro soul tracks match the drinks, with a complimentary sherry glass of the punch of the day served to guests on arrival, like a swinging ’70s house party. Trying the more curious – and heady – cocktails (all priced at £14) is far from intimidating, since bar staff keenly and knowledgeably steer you. Some sensible classics stay put on the list, but adventurous seasonal drinks are worth perusing too, like the 57 Shades of Grey with vodka, whiskey, Campari and prosecco all in the mix. That’s how to pack a punch.

Runner-up: Connaught Bar

Best New Bar

Bars and pubs Cocktail bars Stoke Newington

Original Sin

Both Time Out’s critics and readers have raved about how friendly the staff are at this east London bar. It’s so down-to-earth it’s even got a free pool table. It's from the same people behind the consistently commendable Happiness Forgets in Hoxton Square. Like that forebear, it’s dark, seductive and serves peerless cocktails. They’re strong, well-balanced and classy. Interestingly, the short list doesn’t include any gin or vodka, but instead plenty of unusual and complex spirits such as white rye, Kamm & Sons and mezcal. There’s also a good showing from the aperitifs – Suze, Byrrh, Aperol, Amer Picon, vermouth. The drinks seem simple at first glance, without any of the scientific whizz-bang increasingly seen behind the bar these days, but to get the simple things right every time is often equally as hard. And as this new bar does get it right each time, maybe the real sin would be to miss it.

Runner-up: The Gibson

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The Best Bartender or Bar Team

Bars and pubs Hotel bars South Bank

Dandelyan (Ryan Chetiyawardana and team)

Ryan C is a true jigger-wielding legend. Not only does he concoct some of the most incredible drinks in the city, but he makes it all look effortless, too. No wonder, then, that he’s already racked up a list of awards almost as long as his surname with his team at Dandelyan. The bar has a prime spot off the lobby of the multimillion-pound Mondrian hotel in the former Sea Containers House. Dandelyan is run by a team of super-slick international-hotel ‘servers’.  and Dandelyan’s menu is just as groundbreaking – ingredients include 'chalk bitters', 'crystal peach nectar’ and the archaic-sounding 'dandelion capillaire'.

Runner-up: The Cocktail Trading Co. (Olly Brading, Andy Mil, Elliot Ball and team)

Most Stylish Bar

Bars and pubs Fitzrovia

Punch Room at the London Edition

For real proof that the ‘70s never went out of fashion, look no further than the winner of our Most Stylish Bar award. Here, the style comes courtesy of retro soul tunes, well-turned-out punters and a giant silver punch bowl. Despite having an old-school oak-panelled style and more than a touch of the Don Drapers about it, this bar to the rear of the London Edition hotel is a contemporary, high-fashion hangout where platinum-blonde bar staff look like supermodels and guests smoulder in the corner by candlelight. A reservations-only policy makes the place feel all the more exclusive (especially if your table happens to be the one by the roaring fire).

Runner-up: Oriole

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Hippest Bar

Bars and pubs Cocktail bars Bethnal Green

Satan's Whiskers

Like all of London’s coolest hangouts, the winner of the Hippest Bar award looks a bit divey from the outside. Step through the door, though, and you’ll be met with vintage French posters, taxidermy, a hip hop soundtrack and devilishly good drinks. In fact, they're up there with the best cocktails to be found in Bethnal Green’s burgeoning booze scene. It’s more of a laid-back neighbourhood hangout than an out-of-place, high-end cocktail bar. Think not so much stuffy, more stuffed animals – there’s plenty of taxidermy pals lounging around, but it never borders on the tacky. The drinks list changes daily, which attracts a keen crowd of booze enthusiasts as well as Tinder’s finest out to impress. Sit at the bar, a prime position to catch the attention of staff in shirts and braces, who gladly ran us through their favourites on the menu. You’re in for a hell of a night at Satan’s Whiskers.

Runner-up: Frank's Cafe

Matugga Rum presents Most Creative Bar

Bars and pubs Cocktail bars Hoxton

White Lyan

When it opened a few years back, the winner of this award didn’t so much tear up the rulebook as drench it in absinthe and set it on fire. Their spirits are house-made. Their ingredients sound like they’ve come out of a mad scientist’s lab. There’s also a ban on ice, because every drink is already perfect. It was the first solo venue from single-minded cocktailian Ryan Chetiyawardana (see Dandelyan too), and not only has he chucked out the frozen water, he also employs no citrus, sugar, fruit or other perishables, and next to no branded products. You can’t order off menu, and there’s only one of each colour of wine and one lager. The former White Horse pub in the untrendy bit of Hoxton doesn’t give much away from the outside, but once inside it’s clear this is no standard operation.

Runner-up: 69 Colebrooke Row

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Gin Mare presents Classiest Bar

Bars and pubs Hotel bars Mayfair

The Connaught Bar

This is a bar that manages to be classy without being stuffy. Everyone who stops for a drink here leaves feeling special. Is it because of the incredible attention to detail, personal service and awesome bar snacks? Or the bracingly strong martinis? The Connaught, designed by the renowned David Collins, is all about style and glamour – mirrors, low lighting, silver leaf, tasteful palette, lots of plush seating for intimate conversation. Even if you can only stretch to a single drink, it’s worth it: count out every last penny and treat yourself. The cocktail menu is stuffed with peerless examples of all the originals, but for the true Connaught experience the only way to travel is on the martini trolley – order one and it will be wheeled up beside you, with the drink mixed on top.

Runner-up: Dukes Bar

Find the best cocktails in London

cocktails in london, satan's whiskers
© Kris Piotrowski

Cocktails in London

Bars and pubs

You'll get way more than a G&T and a pack of pork scratchings in London's best cocktail bars. The capital keeps on serving up innovative neighbourhood hangouts as well as pioneeringly pistine hotel bars where cocktails are big on the agenda. So don't just rely on our cracking list of the 50 best cocktail bars in London, but also browse below to find exactly what's on the menu. This is pure cocktail geekery as London does best.

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