Proper Sherry has been enjoying something of a hipster-ish revival in London, partly thanks to a surge in popularity for tapas, its natural partner. Decanter's content director John Stimpfig picks out his top six London bars for you to visit in the run-up to Christmas.
Looking for a different venue for Christmas drinks this year? Sherry fell out of popularity in the 1980s, but it has since become increasingly regarded as one of the world’s most underrated and undervalued fine wines by those in the know.
And the best way by far for Londoners to get a taste for its many charms is to visit one of the growing number of Sherry and tapas bars which have popped up right across the capital.
The best six London Sherry and tapas bars:
Outside it might be grey and cold but walk into the bijou Bar Pepito and you could be in the heart of downtown Jerez. With knowledgable Spanish staff, Sherry-butt tables and pata negra hams hanging from the ceiling, owner Richard Bigg makes sure that drinkers get a truly authentic experience. It has been around since 2010, when Bar Pepito was named Time Out’s Bar of the Year. Biggs keeps the Sherry menu simple and limits it to just 15 Sherries. But they cover all the bases from fino to amontillado and oloroso with some well chosen labels. And you’ll find very good tapas too.
3 Varnishers Yard, London, N1 9DF.
020 7841 7331
Capote y Toros
In stark contrast to Bar Pepito’s small but perfectly formed Sherry menu, Capote y Toros has London’s longest Sherry list with over 100 available by the glass. The idea here is that punters can experiment with a dazzling array of different styles and tapas dishes. The whole ensemble is relaxed, authentic and utterly memorable. You certainly don’t need to be a Sherry expert to enjoy it. Located on the Old Brompton Road, this bar is part of the popular Cambio de Tercio group of restaurants in South Kensington.
157 Old Brompton Road, London, SW6 0LJ
020 7373 0567
Jose, which opened in 2011, is the renowned Spanish chef and restaurateur Jose Piazrro’s first London venture. Inspired by the traditional tapas bars in Andalucia and Barcelona’s Boqueria Market, this intimate, lively and busy bar in trendy Bermondsey should be on every Sherry aficionado’s itinerary. The food is as good as the superbly curated Sherry list and changes daily depending on what fresh ingredients are sourced at the market. It’s also worth noting that you can’t book in advance, so you may have to queue at certain times of the day.
104 Bermondsey Street, London, SE1 3UB
020 7403 4902
Copita is the Spanish name for the traditional Sherry glass and all the Sherries featured on its list are available by the glass in servings of 75ml or 100ml, with by the glass prices beginning at just £3.75. The list includes Sherries from Hidalgo, Regente and one of my favourites Fernando de Castilla. Try the latter’s Fino Amontillado or Palo Cortado or a super sticky Pedro Ximenez. There’s also a good range of Spanish wines to boot. The food menu rotates daily and the no frills décor works for the casual ambience.
27 D’Arblay Street, London, W1F 8EP
020 7287 7797
Rosita and the Sherry Bar
Now in its fourth year, Rosita provides three different Sherry flights to enable novice Sherry drinkers to experiment with its different styles and flavours. In total, it has 20 well-priced Sherries all available by the glass, including a good number made by smaller producers. The Spanish staff, close set tables and marble-topped bar add to the authentic Andalucian experience. And for those who want to learn more, Rosita also organize Sherry tastings.
124 Northcote Road, London, SW11 6QU
020 7998 9093
This brilliant offshoot of the now sadly closed Fino Restaurant first hit London’s Frith Street in Soho in 2007 and has been attracting full houses ever since. Since then, two more locations have followed in Adelaide Street and Covent Garden 2013. The Hart Brothers’ winning formula includes an open kitchen, great sherries and mind-bogglingly good and inventive tapas.
54 Frith Street, London, W1D 4SL
10 Adelaide Street, London, WC2N 4HZ
43 Drury Lane, London, WC2B 5AJ
- After a dinner of Sherry and tapas, head out to one of these wine bars in London to while away the rest of the night.