The bar at Caravan
At the heart of King’s Cross, Caravan’s dining room combines a stripped-back industrial aesthetic with a bustling open kitchen. Come for the buzzy atmosphere, the people-watching (Central Saint Martins is in the building) and a cracking playlist to accompany your drinks.
The Caravan drinks list is surprisingly well-stocked, and a nice complement to its ‘well-travelled’ food menu. There are a few familiar favourites, but we suggest you skip those and try some of the more unconventional options. You’ll find cocktails infused with bee pollen, dehydrated blood orange, smoked cumin salt and delicious absinthe-macerated blackberries. It’s well worth being adventurous.
Try: Dante’s Reserve, Caravan coffee-infused bourbon, muscovado and orange bitters. Caravan, 1 Granary Square, London N1C 4AA
The Permit Room at Dishoom
Prepare to be transported to colonial-era Bombay – this Indian eatery is styled after the Irani cafés that were once part of the fabric of life in the city. The food has people queuing up most nights of the week. However the basement bar, The Permit Room, is worth a visit in its own right.
Here the “daru-wallah” mixes some wonderful concoctions in the dimly-lit space. The drinks are inspired by the pre-prohibition scene in Bombay, and the menu sings with traditional ingredients – cardamom, Chai syrup and fiery ginger.
Choose from slings, coolers, fizzes, flips and fancies, served over hand-chipped ice and ordered by the ‘peg’ – the traditional Indian liquor measure.
Dishoom King’s Cross is at 5 Stable Street, London N1C 4AB
This is a café by day, bar by night affair, but really, Spiritland is all about the music. The sound system is billed as the best in the world, and the music programming is brilliantly eclectic. You’ll hear everything from dance music to reggae, country to jazz, every night of the week.
The cocktails are uncomplicated but well executed – gin is soothed with grapefruit and elderflower, rum is deepened with smoked rosemary and dark chocolate. If you’re going alcohol-free, ask for the mocktail of the day. Don’t think you’ll be heading here to hit the dancefloor, instead, the best way to experience Spiritland is to sip slowly, hang out and enjoy the soundtrack.
Try: Queen of Hills. East London dry gin, darjeeling tea liquer, grapefruit, elderflower and hops. Find Spiritland at 9 – 10 Stable Street London N1C 4AB
The Meister Bar at German Gymnasium
D&D London has done the seemingly impossible and made dining and drinking in this former Victorian gymnasium feel intimate. By carving the cathedral-like building into a series of softly lit spaces, they’ve created a stunning venue that was recently voted the world’s most beautiful restaurant.
In the dining room, pair your meal with something sophisticated from the Royal menu, or kick off date night with a tipple from ‘Short and Seductive’. If you’re just visiting for drinks, then head straight upstairs to the Meister Bar. Here dramatic vaulted ceilings and sumptuous leather booths set the scene. Cocktails are served in vintage glasses, and the expert bartenders oversee a short but innovative cocktail list, including the signature, Meister Collins. On the virgin cocktail list, opt for a Fresco Ginger, a refreshing blend of cucumber, lemongrass, ginger coridal, lime and apple juice.
Try: Perfect Blossoming. Babicka vodka, Solerno blood orange liquer and freshly pressed lime juice. German Gymnasium, 1 King’s Boulevard London N1C 4BU
This perfectly-located pub and restaurant spans the entire edge of Granary Square on one side and Regent’s Canal on the other. With floor-to-ceiling windows and outdoor seating on three levels, the views are hard to beat.
The super friendly staff are on hand to help navigate the cocktail menu, which is pleasantly quirky. Brunel’s Brew, for example, lists Guinness as one of its core ingredients, topped up with Barcadi Carta Oro, apricot, agave, egg white and lemon – potent, but yummy. All the classics are available, but where’s the fun in that?
Try: The unappetisingly named but delectable Canal Water – Woodford Reserve, matcha tea, yuzu sake, egg white and elderflower. The Lighterman, 3 Granary Square, King’s Cross N1C 4BH
Granger and Co.
This bright, airy all-day eatery has full-height windows looking out onto Pancras Square. The setting is cheerful and the decor draws inspiration from ltalian train stations of the 1980s – with terrazzo floors, a wood-panelled ceiling, retro lamps and elegant leather banquettes. On sunnier days, the little piazza is a lovely spot for al fresco drinks.
The cocktails are deliberately stripped back – simple combinations designed to make the ingredients sing. Think gin with raspberry and mint, and tequila topped up with watermelon, blueberries and lime. The ingredients are well-sourced and fanatically fresh, resulting in some really exciting flavours.
Try: Lady Grey Sour. Lady Grey Sipsmith gin, lemon, agave and grapefruit bitters. Granger and Co., Unit 1 Stanley Building, 7 Pancras Square N1c 4AG
If you’ve just stepped off the train at King’s Cross, you don’t have to look far for a great cocktail bar. The glamorous GNH bar opens directly onto the station concourse. The bar is part of the revamped Great Northern Hotel, a luxury boutique hotel that first opened its doors in 1854, and was the work of Lewis Cubitt, the architect of many of the iconic buildings at King’s Cross.
The bar welcomes travellers from 7am, with a gourmet menu and decadent cocktails served until late. Glittering chandeliers and moody decor evoke early 20th Century Paris. The styling includes a gorgeous corridor resembling a vintage train – find it on the way to the loos! The drinks list captures the hotel’s characterful heritage with the 1854, King’s Garden, The Voyager, and the Lady Violet, a notorious resident from the hotel’s glory days.
Time your visit for Saturdays between 2pm and 7pm, when cocktails are 2 for 1, including delicious alcohol-free concoctions of crushed fruit, ginger beer, passionfruit-laced syrup, grenadine, and orgeat.
Try: Mind the Gap. El Jimador Blanco shaken together with cinnamon syrup, cranberry and lemon juice. GNH Bar, Great Northern Hotel, Kings Cross Station, Pancras Rd N1C 4TB
Drink, Shop & Do
This quirky venue on Caledonian Road is a charming combination of vintage furniture, eclectic art and delicious cakes. By day, Drink, Shop & Do is a café with a great afternoon tea. By night it becomes a retro bar. Upstairs, there is a nightclub if you fancy a boogie.
Drink, Shop & Do offers an ever-revolving array of madcap activities to let you get in touch with your inner kid. Expect to learn a Beyoncé dance routine, build a Lego robot, or reimagine Lionel Richie’s hair in biscuits! Pair the fun with a grown-up drink. There’s an impressive gin-based list, plus wines and beers. But it’s the cocktail list that’s a perfect pairing for a bit of silliness, with names like Fresh Prince and Naked and Famous. Show up between 5pm and 8pm to try one of their top five cocktails for a fiver.
Try: Lemon Tart. Belvedere vodka and lemon curd with a biscuit rim. Drink, Shop & Do, 9 Caledonian Road, London N1C 9DX
Drake & Morgan
Head down the stairs from the main dining room and you’ll find Drake & Morgan’s destination bar. Perfect for an after-work, choose between the timeless classics, heritage cocktails, or go for something unexpected from the “inspired” list. Don’t plan to call in for just one though. On the menu are ‘sharers’ and ‘punches’ designed for two or four people, and the accompanying bar food calls for a crowd, with five varieties of heaped sharing platters. Cocktails continue to flow at the weekend.
Try: Death or Glory. Coffee-washed Bulleit bourbon, peach, lemon & old fashioned bitters. Drake & Morgan, 6 Pancras Road, London N1C 4AG
Searcy’s Champagne Bar
On the Upper Concourse of the stunning St. Pancras Station sits hidden gem, Searchy’s Champagne Bar.
Whether you are being whisked away for a romantic weekend in Paris, or just heading home from work on a rainy Friday, upgrade your commute with a stop at this elegant, art-deco inspired Champagne and oyster bar. Searcy’s is the longest champagne bar in Europe and offers a breathtaking view of the historic station. There is (naturally) a huge range of champagne, as well as classic cocktails. But really, you can’t leave without opting for a cocktail with a little fizz – just hit the ‘press for champagne’ button in one of the stylish booths for service.
Try: The Grand. Grand Marnier, vodka, peach schnapps, 24 Carat gold leaf, brown sugar and Champagne. Fancy the fizz without the buzz? Go for a Raspberry fizz: raspberry puree, lime juice and fresh lemonade. Searcy’s Champagne Bar, St. Pancras International Station, London N1C 4QL
Plum + Spilt Milk
The restaurant’s unusual name is a nod to the importance of the railways to the area’s history. ‘Plum’ and ‘spilt milk’ were the names of the livery colours of the old London and North Western Railway carriages.
The restaurant is situated in the beautifully refurbished Great Northern Hotel, and evokes all the glamour of steam age travel. The luxurious surroundings feature hand blown glass pendants, lacquered wood panelling and velvet seating. You can imagine the elegant Victorian gentility pausing here before boarding their trains. Perfect for a special occasion or a glamorous evening out, the cocktail list is small but well-considered. History informs the menu, with old-world ingredients and a story in every glass.
Try: Lady Violet, Elderflower Vodka slowly infused under a layer of champagne and Chambord Black Raspberry Liqueur. Plum + Spilt Milk, Great Northern Hotel, Kings Cross Station, Pancras Rd N1C 4TB
At the height of trading between Europe and Asia in the 17th Century, Indian taverns, known as punch houses, were popular with the sailors manning the shipping routes. Routes were dominated by the Dutch East India Company, or, Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie, hence the ‘VOC’.
The team behind this quirky little cocktail bar were inspired by this concept, fusing maritime drinking culture with the Indian spices traded on these routes. The decor is heavy on dark wood and brass, antiquated spyglasses, and dripping church candles. The drinks are delivered in cork-stoppered flasks.
Cocktails are based on recipes hundreds of years old, aged in sealed bottles and oak casks to replicate the rich, authentic flavours of the era. Plus, 17th Century drinkers gave their concoctions some excellent names – sip on a Dirk Hartog Decanter, or order yourself a tall glass of Walsingham’s Interogation.
Try: A Blackstrap Swizzle, Bacardi Oakheart barrel aged with molasses and aphrodite bitters, swizzled with fresh lime and garnished with coconut. VOC is at 2 Varnishers Yard, Regents Quarter, King’s Cross, London, N1 9AW
Granary Square Brasserie
Granary Square Brasserie has an extensive drinks menu, devised by Bar Manager Will Beatty, who has also pledged support to the Last Straw campaign by introducing environmentally friendly, biodegradable straws in all cocktails and drinks.
With over ten years’ experience in the industry working for award-winning bars such as McQueen and Hix, Will Beatty has driven the transformative change of cocktail menus all over London. At the bar, Beatty showcases his exclusive insights into the bar industry, incorporating all of the emerging cocktail trends into his delicious creations.
Try: The Granary – Loveage infused vodka, Kummel, Celery bitters and lovage powder. Granary Square Brasserie is at 1-3 Stable Street, Kings Cross, London, N1C 4AB
Get a glimpse behind the cocktail list with GSB’s William Beatty
What makes a great cocktail bar? What ingredients are making waves in the cocktail world? and, most importantly, what should we order at the bar?
All these questions and more were put to William Beatty, bar manager at Granary Square Brasserie by food writer Rebecca Seal. Read the interview, and discover why he thinks London is the best place in the world to have at tipple…