With so many great bars in London, where should Champagne aficionados visit? Expert reviewer Julie Sheppard shares her recommendations...
There’s a sprinkling of celebrity stardust at this bar, where previous regulars include Elizabeth Taylor and Mick Jagger. It’s also the room where Oscar Wilde fell in love with Lord Alfred Douglas. A glittering celebration of elaborate Louis XVI decoration with mirrored walls, this is the place to come for a decadent Champagne afternoon tea. The house pour is Laurent-Perrier – £15 for a glass of Brut NV, £25 for Rosé – alongside vintage cuvées like Dom Pérignon 2006 (£215 a bottle).
The internationally acclaimed American Bar steals the limelight at the Savoy, but savvy Champagne-lovers should visit the seductive Beaufort Bar. Once the hotel’s cabaret stage, where George Gershwin played, today it’s an Art Deco vision in black and gold, with sleek service. The Champagne list is arranged by style from crisp and fresh (Ruinart Blanc de Blancs NV, £26 a glass, £115 a bottle) to rich and characterful (Pol Roger’s Cuvée Winston Churchill 2002, £90/£385). There’s also an eye-catching selection of Louis Roederer cuvées in large formats, up to the nine-litre Salamanazar.
This bijou bar is a hidden gem, concealed behind a velvet curtain, and with space for just 25 people (note that reservations aren’t taken). Blue leather banquettes, bronze mirrored tables and Baccarat crystal create a sumptuous setting for Champagne and caviar. Pair Imperial Oscietra with a glass of Krug Grand Cuvée NV (£65) or Billecart-Salmon’s Cuvée Nicholas Francois 2002 (£295 a bottle). Cocktails include the Dickens Noir, a twist on a French 75 made with Laurent-Perrier La Cuvée. Finally, don’t forget to look up: the large skylight frames a striking sculpture of a diver by artist Sophie Dickens.
One of the classiest places in the capital to toast special occasions, Claridge’s Bar embodies the unique style of the iconic hotel. Designed by David Collins, it’s both small enough to be intimate but large enough to be deliciously buzzy. The Champagne list is a who’s who of producers, ranging from grand marques such as Veuve Clicquot to smaller names like Bruno Paillard. Big spenders can splash out on coveted older vintages, including Cristal 2002 at £690 and Salon 1971 for a cool £5,800. Cocktails include The Flapper, a signature mix of Champagne, fresh strawberries and crème de cassis.
Putting the ‘chic’ in Sheekey, this popular Theatreland bar boasts a brightly coloured terrace that’s ideal for alfresco bubbles on summer days. Inside, the marble-topped horseshoe bar is surrounded by black-and-white prints of screen and stage stars hung on glossy wood-panelled walls. Top Le Mesnil producer Delamotte is the house pour (£15 per glass/£75 for a bottle) but other notable labels include Gosset Grand Blanc de Blancs NV (£160 a bottle) and Perrier- Joüet’s elegant Belle Époque (£310). To eat? Sample native oysters, a decadent fruits de mer platter or the classic Sheekey’s fish pie.
Soho institution Kettner’s was opened in 1867 by chef Auguste Kettner and was one of the first restaurants in London to serve French food. Today it’s part of the Soho House Group which has added its signature luxe. The Champagne Bar channels early Art Deco, with a gorgeous walnut bar topped with marble. A generous ice bucket is stacked with bottles for by-the-glass pours (your choice of flute or coupe) including Drappier Zero Dosage (£15 for a flute) and Bollinger Grande Année Rosé (£28 for a coupe).
This smart and airy little bar has an award-winning Champagne list that offers a huge selection. With over 140 different cuvées by the bottle and five more by the glass – including Charles Heidsieck Rosé 2006 (£20) – fizz fans are spoiled for choice. As well as outstanding older vintages, like Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 2000 (£185 per bottle), there’s also a wonderful range of grower Champagnes from lesser-known names like Ambonnay producer Eric Rodez. As you’d expect from the bar at a one-star Michelin restaurant, creative snacks such as crisp cod skin wafers are a cut above.
Julie Sheppard writes about bars, drinks and food for Waitrose Drinks. Time Out Square Meal and Decanter.