Shaking up the London bar scene.


Fed up with the smelly carpet and flocked wallpaper down at your local? Not surprising. As the bubbles of mid-Nineties alcopops fizzle out, the cocktail is emerging to claim supremacy in the fashionable drinking hierarchy. Then why not take a leaf out of Delboy's book and see what's in the mix at one of these upmarket cocktail bars over the festive season? We think the experience will leave you in high spirits.

Six Degrees

Whatever you do when you get here, stay on the ground floor (the second-floor venue is a private members' bar for the painfully trendy!). The cocktails are concocted by Dick Bradsell (who's also a "cocktail consultant" for several other bars, including Match), and there are some tasty ones to choose from. With luxury red armchairs, muted music and huge windows which give a great view of Frith Street, this is pretty swish stuff but accessible. Don't expect the open-door policy to last forever as more people realise it exists; but get there now for a specialty cocktail prepared by a master consultant and you won't be disappointed. Location: 56 Frith St, London W1


The Match Bar started off in Clerkenwell and now has its West End branch just off Oxford Circus. Talented bartenders strut their stuff as they prepare a great variety of innovative cocktails; if you're up for trying something new, go for the Match Spring Punch, a champagne-topped long drink, or Brambles made with Bombay Sapphire. There's no door policy whatsoever, so if you're not decked-out in the latest Gucci do not fear; you won't be looked down on by any stony-faced doormen. But take note if you sit on any of their sofas - some of them are worth over 5000! And in a groundbreaking move, you can actually book a table just for drinks. It's a quirky fun venue (and everyone knows that) so get there early if you want a table and waiter service for some of the West End's best cocktails. Location: 37-38 Margaret St, London W1 / Location: 45-47 Clerkenwell Rd, EC1

The Lab

A very funky little place in the heart of London' Soho, this is a great place for some serious cocktail drinking (and a chance of actually sitting down). It might appear to be only for Austin Powers wannabes due to its slightly tongue-in-cheek retro look; but it's fun and classy simultaneously, and you're guaranteed a very good cocktail. The Lab boasts some of the best bartenders in town so it's definitely worth checking out their champagne cocktails; Daiquiris and Caipirinhas, to name only a couple. Great atmosphere to kick-start your night and make sure you include a trip to the funky toilets! Are you feeling horny, baby? Location: 12 Old Compton St, London W1

Cafe Aquarius

This space-age bar is a heady experiment in futuristic, 21st-century kitsch, with its lurid, metallic bucket seats and oversized cartoon spaceman mural. The brightly coloured decor - the exterior is painted red and purple - makes it an excellent party for hedonistic space-cadets. The cocktail range is a particular favourite with the young, fun-loving crowd, who can often be seen stocking up on munchies from the snack menu in an attempt to soak up a bellyful of special-offer Bacardi Breezer. Location: 10 Drummond St, Edinburgh

Reform Restaurant

If the Queen's speech leaves you in a regal frame of mind, then this is the perfect bar to indulge those royal airs and graces - you can even regard your velvet-walled court from an animal-skin throne. Even the loos retain the VIP treatment with a choice of decadent perfumes to freshen up with. The cocktails served here are definitely on the costly side - the price to pay for he chance of bumping into the likes of Brylcreemed icon David Beckham, or sharing a snog (or more) under the mistletoe with White House temptress Monica Lewinsky. Location: Spring Gardens, King St, Manchester


The interior design of Nomad faithfully recreates an atmosphere of a modern North-African club: the walls are coloured in hazy yellows and oranges and gauzy material flows from the ceiling. The unusual decor adds a sultry feel, while in-house DJs provide a clubby ambience from Thursday until Sunday. Cocktails are served by the jugful for those in need of maximum refreshment, while the shooter list features the dubious sounding Flatliner - a lethal mix of Cuervo Gold, Sambucca and Tabasco. Location: 53 Regent West St, Glasgow

Gio's Bar Latino at Tapas Bar

This modern restaurant, located in the "cafe quarter" of Cardiff city centre, caters for fans of the Latin vibe. The drinks menu adds to the international feel, offering a tantalizing range of cocktails selected from around the globe, while the Italian restaurant offers a choice of dishes with a Latin American flavour. Aimed at a slightly older clientele (men should be 25, women 21), there is also an upstairs night-club for those wishing to continue their Christmas party into the wee hours. Location: 11a Mill Lane, Cardiff

-- Published by Virgin.Net, 1999


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