The Resident seeks out south east London’s and Brixton’s top 11 cocktail bars for a fun, romantic Valentine’s Day date…
1 House of Tippler, East Dulwich
House of Tippler serves all the classics, plus local staples such as the Lordship Mule or Tippler Martini. For something a little more romantic, try the Metro, with strawberries, passion fruit and vodka, and brought to life with Prosecco, or the E.D Bellini, with peach puree, sparkling elderflower wine and a touch of citrus.
123 Lordship Lane, East Dulwich SE22 8HU; houseoftippler.com
2 214, Bermondsey Street
Tucked away at the end of Bermondsey Street beneath Antico Restaurant, 214 is an intimate and friendly bar serving a delicious array of carefully created cocktails and over 80 varieties of gin. It’s also the home of hand-crafted BTW Tonic Water. Valentine’s Day is on a Sunday this year, which means 214 will be hosting its regular Sunday Social event on the night.
214 Bermondsey Street SE1 3TQ; 214-bermondsey.co.uk
3 Three Eight Four, Brixton
The mixologists at Three Eight Four on Coldharbour Lane use experimental techniques and boutique spirits to create an inventive seasonal cocktail menu alongside popular classics, while the small food plates menu is inspired by a variety of cuisines. Try out Jerry’s Chocolate Orange, a blend of Amarula, creme de cacao, orange, chocolate bitters, milk, cream, chocolate orange.
384 Coldharbour Lane, Brixton SW9 8LF; threeeightfour.com
4 Cooperage, Greenwich
Candlelight, exposed brick and a speakeasy vibe all add to the romantic feel of this Greenwich wine bar. There are big, comfortable leather booths to snuggle into while watching the master cocktail makers create their delicious takes on the classics. The lovingly curated drinks list includes expertly made cocktails using home-infused spirits from old oak barrels kept at the back of the bar.
161 Greenwich High Road, Greenwich SE10 8JA; davy.co.uk/wine-bar/cooperage
5 First Aid Box, Herne Hill
Just opened in Herne Hill, First Aid Box is a quirky take on the traditional cocktail bar with a theme of ‘health, nutrition and doctors orders’. Yes, the drinks are a little gimmicky – think cocktails served with syringes, drip bags, vapours and the like – but it’s fun. Chef Joe Knowlden has created a menu of ceviche, carpaccios, salads and daily special using local suppliers and fresh, locally sourced vegetables
119 Dulwich Road, Herne Hill SE24 0NG; firstaidbox2015.com
6 Communion Bar, Camberwell
Enjoy a baptism of exquisite cocktails at Communion Bar in Camberwell. A celebration of vibrant south London culture, the cocktails mirror the flavours of the community. Get cheeky with a Likkel Rascal (Appleton Rum, Kraken, fresh Jamaican sorrel, pineapple, nutmeg syrup, orange juice and sugar cane) or pay homage to the nurses at King’s College Hospital with a Nurse Pinoy (Crioleo Cacao Elements Eight Rum, Lemon & Calamansi Juice).
29-33 Camberwell Church Street, Camberwell SE5 8TR; communionbar.com
7 Locale, Blackheath
Fancy a romantic meal after your cocktails? Then head to Locale in Blackheath, which offers an impressive range of steak, seafood and homemade pasta dishes. The menu by executive chef Paolo Barone (formerly of the legendary Locanda Locatelli) includes perfect-for-Valentine’s dishes of lobster and Maldon oysters. Enjoy them in one of the cosy booths at the back after sipping a cocktail or two in restaurant’s fabulous bar. The Smoked Cracked Black Pepper and Basil Margarita comes highly recommended…
3 Lawn Terrace, Blackheath Village SE3 9LJ; localerestaurants.com/Blackheath
8 Shrub & Shutter, Brixton
Brixton favourite Shrub & Shutter serves up innovative British cuisine alongside a drinks menu of bespoke and classic cocktails in its bar and restaurant. There are only a few high stools and counters in the front bar, but you’ll find comfier tables and chairs in the more spacious back room where you can linger over the delicious cocktails and bar snacks, all created using local, seasonal and homemade ingredients.
336 Cold Harbour Lane, Brixton SW9 8QH; theshrubandshutter.com
9 LP Bar, New Cross
A vast range of aperitifs, digestifs and cocktails are on offer at the aeronautical-themed LP Bar in New Cross, which also has some great bar snacks. Run by the folk behind The London Particular, the bar works with small, independent suppliers and producers – many from south East London. The decor includes some aeronautical trimmings, but it’s the drinks menu that will really send you soaring with craft beers and a great wine list in the mix.
401 New Cross Road SE14 6LA; thelpbar.co.uk
10 Little Nan’s, Deptford & Catford
Little Nan’s is taking over south east London with its popular, nan-themed bar under the arches at Deptford Market Yard, a brand new saloon bar in Catford, Little Nan’s Tropical Private Hire Den in Nunhead and, just to make sure those east London hipsters don’t miss out, Little Nan’s Rio Bar in Dalston. Enjoy cocktails in teapots, craft lagers, prosecco, lots of lovely cake and chintz, plus references to some of the nation’s TV favourites, like Pat Butcher and Del Boy, dotted around. There’s always a party at nan’s place…
11 Nights & Weekends, Peckham
Nights & Weekends does what it says on the tin and opens only Friday and Saturday 5-10pm and Sunday 10am-3pm. Recently launched by the folk behind Little Bird Gin in the arches under Peckham Rye station, it’s kitsch and cosy. Cocktails are created mainly using Little Bird, a refreshing London Dry gin with notes of pink grapefruit, ginger and citrus established in 2013 and made in south London.
22A Blenheim Grove, Peckham Rye Arches SE15 4QN; @weekendspeckham
Words: Trish Lesslie