Zena Alkayat, author of guidebook ‘London Villages‘, tells us about her top five bars and pubs in the capital.
Hard to find, good-looking, laid-back and passionate about serving superior thirst-quenchers, J&A is a dream drinking destination. The adjoining café is also open for breakfast, lunch and dinner – go on a warm day and you can pair your pint with a slice of chocolate and Guinness cake in J&A’s sunny courtyard. 4 Sutton Lane, EC1M 5PU.
This hotel bar’s glamorous setting is rendered even more appealing after a few of London’s best cocktails. The Vintage Vesper, with aged vodka, Old Tom gin and lemon peel-infused aperitif wine served in a dinky, ice-cold glass, is a real contender for one of my favourite drinks in London. 10 Berners Street, W1T 3NP.
A blazing fire, loads of British guest ales and ciders, pork pies and scotch eggs, a jobbing pianist and an alfresco courtyard combine to make this the ultimate neighbourhood pub. Brilliantly, there’s a pub dog; even more brilliantly, it’s a girl called Fred. 139 Highgate Road, NW5 1LE.
Sometimes good food is as important as good booze – usually after a bracing stomp across Hampstead Heath. In those moments, only The Bull & Last will do. The ground-floor bar is usually packed with muddy-booted walkers and you’ll have to negotiate a few prams – if it all gets too much, order a superior hamper to take back out into the park. 168 Highgate Road, NW5 1QS.
On an otherwise unlovely stretch of Brixton Road, not far from Oval station, is this often overlooked slice of midcentury Continental style. Ask for a Campari on ice, settle in the corner on a rickety bistro stool and catch up on your Voltaire. 8 Brixton Road, SW9 6BU.
Thirsty? Here’s our list of the 100 best bars and pubs in London