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.
This is a café by day, bar by night affair, but really, Spiritland is all about the music. The sound system is billed as one of 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 and 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 though, 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 liqueur, grapefruit, elderflower and hops. Find Spiritland at 9 – 10 Stable Street.
Inspired by the Grand Cafés of Italy, France, and Spain, Vermuteria is a delightful all-day eatery and bar in Coal Drops Yard. In that typical European style, Vermuteria is best enjoyed at a leisurely pace, ordering small plates of light Cicchetti, cheese, and charcuterie alongside a cocktail or two. Vermouth is a signature here, and it takes centre-stage in the form of simple aperitifs, and as a base for the cocktails. There is an extensive collection – at least 30 different varieties – both in vintage bottles as well as new artisanal crafted Vermouths from all over Europe. The considered cocktail list navigates the various vermouths for you. Choose from a classic, such as a Diplomat or Garibaldi, or try one of the varieties of the Milano-Torino, which was invented in 1860 and led to the now-popular Negroni. For something truly iconic, opt for one of the drinks of their Vintage menu. Try: Negroni & It: chamomile infused Tanqueray 10, Maura Vergano Americano, and Angostura Bitters. Vermuteria is located at 38/39 Coal Drops Yard.
Kings Cross now has its own martini lounge on the first floor of the Great Northern Hotel. Just metres away from the Eurostar terminus, the ultra-glamorous bar is the perfect spot to unwind over a cocktail or two. The interiors are gorgeously dark and sultry, with intimate velvet-flocked corners. Martinis naturally take top billing, but there’s much more on offer, with an extensive list of champagnes, whiskeys, and spirits, as well as the classics – Manhattan, Sidecar – plus few more unusual concoctions for good measure. We’re here for the martinis, though. You can make yours entirely bespoke by choosing your own gin, (or vodka) and vermouth, or opt for a contemporary martini cocktail. And before you ask, yes: they do serve Bond’s iconic tipple – just ask for The Vesper. Served shaken, not stirred, as standard. Try: The Vesper. Tanqueray 10, Beluga, Cocchi Americano, lemon zest. Anthracite, First Floor, Great Northern Hotel, Kings Cross St Pancras Station, Pancras Road.
Supermax is the late-night, subterranean cocktail bar from the team behind Spiritland. The cocktails are vermouth-led and the decor is all curved edges, mirror balls and soft neon. Don’t mistake it for kitsch, though: the atmosphere at is fun, funky, and glamorous. In fact, their after-work Aperitivo Hour was named ‘London’s coolest happy hour’ by Time Out. The music is top-notch, as you’d expect, as is the sophisticated cocktail list, packed with modern twists on old classics. Try: Marsala Fix. Rum, honey wine, lemon, marsala. Supermax is at 14 Handyside Street. You’ll have to look hard to find it, but once there, you won’t want to leave.
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. Try: Perfect Blossoming. Babicka vodka, Solerno blood orange liquer and freshly pressed lime juice. German Gymnasium, 1 King’s Boulevard.
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 is at 3 Granary Square.
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. is in the Stanley Building, 7 Pancras Square.
If you fancy the kind of night that sees a group of friends gathered over delicious cocktails and sharing some truly memorable mezze, Arabica’s buzzy restaurant on Lewis Cubitt Walk could be just the ticket. Order as many of the dips and nibbles from the Levantine-inspired menu that you think you can handle, then peruse the cracking cocktail list. Cocktails have also have been influenced by the middle-East: peppered with saffron, cardamom, pomegranate, rosewater, and baharat, they capture the perfumed waters, smokey-sweet flavours and intoxicating spices that define the regions’ dishes. Try: Turkish Delight. Vodka, hibiscus liqueur, strawberry & rosewater jam with vanilla aquafaba. Arabica is at 7 Lewis Cubitt Walk, a stone’s throw from Coal Drops Yard, at the base of the Aga Khan Building.
Hicce sits on the upper level at Coal Drops Yard and is a beautifully airy, light-filled space. In the kitchen is the formidably talented Pip Lacey, best known for her time in Michelin-starred Murano. When the food shows such creative brilliance, the cocktails have to be able to hold their own – which luckily, they do. Look for the delicious Machagras, an infusion of shiso gin, matcha tea, lemongrass & aquafaba that made the world top 100 cocktails in 2019! The cocktails list is short, sharp, and fresh, much like the drinks themselves. Instead of relying on a cacophony of sugar syrups, the drinks allow naturally flavoursome ingredients – passionfruit, lime, mint – to sing through. Shaken, stirred and infused with exciting Japanese elements (think sake, yuzu, matcha and hibiscus) and you have cocktails that, as The Guardian’s Grace Dent attests, are simply “marvellous”. On summer days, Hicce is a treat, with spritzes, sunshine and their Sunday Sundowner DJ sessions to see the week out in style. Try: Bagleys, 13.0 don julio reposado, campari, passionfruit and grapefruit sherbet. Find Hicce above Wolf & Badger 102 Stable Street, Coal Drops Yard.
For a taste of retro glamour, step into Lina Stores, where the mint green and retro fixtures evoke a chic mid-century Italian café. The cocktails are a stylish twist on Italian classics, with Negroni, Amaro Sour, and various Spritzes all making the roll call, packed with fresh ingredients in intriguing combinations. Plus, Lina Stores boasts some of the most delicious alcohol-free cocktails in Kings Cross. Try: Ditch the usual Campari or Aperol Spritzes and opt for a Venetian Crodino Spritz. Cocchi vermouth di torino, villa ascenti gin, prosecco, and crodino. Find Lina Stores at 20 Stable Street.
The bar at Caravan
Caravan 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 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. Find Caravan, at 1 Granary Square.
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. Try: Mind the Gap. El Jimador Blanco shaken together with cinnamon syrup, cranberry and lemon juice. Find the GNH Bar inside the Great Northern Hotel, Kings Cross Station.
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. Head to Pancras Square to find Drake & Morgan.
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 is inside St. Pancras International Station.
Granary Square Brasserie
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… Try: The Granary – Loveage infused vodka, Kummel, Celery bitters and lovage powder. Granary Square Brasserie is at 1-3 Stable Street.