Valentine’s Day is here – and with that, the population is once more split into warring halves sporting either love-struck giddiness or disenchanted grimaces. We’ve been lead to believe by aeons of pop culture tropes repeated in film and television that there’s simply no in-between for the happy and the sad on V-Day. We, for one, are over having ‘single’ associated with ‘lonely’, and ‘taken’ associated with ‘boring’. It bears repeating that everyone deserves to enjoy the day rather than dread it (hence the advent of #Galentines), and if you’d like to treat yourself, what better excuse? So, whether you and your gender-nonspecific-beau are high-school sweethearts together for the tenth year running, or you’re single and determined to celebrate the day with the other loves of your life, your friends; we’ve put together a list of our favourite, unique and unmissable cocktail bars in the capital city of London for your delectation. Wine and dine with people you adore – dating or dateless.
For thrills and spills this Valentine’s Day, look no further…
Disrepute (AKA D.R.P)
Why: Disrepute is charming with a slick, sophisticated atmosphere. The vibe is very sixties spy-movie, or rich-villain’s private speakeasy. As if the gorgeous decor wasn’t enough, the drinks in this place are an adventure themselves. You and your date(/s) can have fun ordering from a menu that spins you a story rather than rattles off ingredients – literally. Instead of descriptions, you’ll all be given a choice of short stories of mystery and intrigue to choose from, and voilà, a drink encapsulating that feeling will arrive!
Why: This bar is an immersive fantasy from the entrance onward. Step down through the replica underground station and find a hidden vintage-styled forties dream, with jazz playing and tube carriages making up the seating! The menus are printed as old newspapers, and the drinks are delicious. This is a perfect venue for a romantic date or a group of friends – it’s fascinatingly different and flawlessly themed, and so much fun you’ll be talking about it for weeks.
Why: If you haven’t already seen photos on your Instagram feed of the infamous rainbow egg-toilets and thought “what?“, then hold tight because the rest of Sketch will blow you away. Too beautiful to not be included in this list, Sketch is a veritable wonderland of colour and imagination. Every tiny detail is a feast for the eyes, and their cocktails are feasts for the other senses. On the more expensive end of the scale, and for fair reason, a Valentine’s date spent in one of their walk-in bar rooms that look like the brainchild of a Matisse painting and a Vera Wang perfume advert, is really worth the hype.
The Pink Chihuahua
Why: This basement bar is an explosion of light and colour in keeping with a gorgeous Mexican theme, boasting nightly events such as cocktail tastings, DJ sets, and Pachanga – so this is the place to be if you’re incorporating dancing shoes into your ensemble. With a fantastic range of tequila cocktails, this bar is also blessedly affordable, and is open until late. Ideal for a group visit in the spirit of Galentine’s Day, but also perfect for any outgoing couple who want to Pulp-Fiction it on the dancefloor!
Why: With a classy and comfortable interior, Purl appears neat but unassuming. Little do first-timers know that they’re in the presence of some of “The Most Instagrammable Drinks” in London. No joke. The cocktails here are luxurious and fantastical, served in frothing cauldrons, chemistry beakers, teapots, and miniature UK phone booths. This is the place to go to treat your senses to a seriously unusual date and delight in the inventiveness of your drinks.
Words: Esmeralda Voegele-Downing