Back to Home Page 

Winner of Golden Rum Barrel Awards Best UK Rum Website 2016
Drinkaware - For the facts
 |  |  | 

Recommended Bars
"The hard part about being a bartender is figuring out who is drunk and who is just stupid." - Richard Braunstein
The easiest way to start experiencing various cocktails is in a bar, preferably with a professional bartender. While the idea of a professional bartender may seem obvious, anyone who has experienced a cocktail made by a fully trained bartender will have likely finished the evening having appreciated their abilities and mixing skills and been happy to leave a good tip.
Unlike the US where the vast majority of bartenders I've met have attended Bar School and are licensed to work a bar; know how to "free pour" and can make a great drink, in Britain we have no such formal requirement and as such it is generally the more expensive and exclusive bars whose bar staff not only know how to mix a great drink, but also don't rely on reading the menu in order to make you a cocktail.
In case you're wondering, if they're reading the menu, seriously consider asking for another member of staff, ordering something else or just leave. Based on personal experience, please find below my recommended 'A' List of international "watering holes":
Captain Tony's Saloon - Greene St, Key West, Florida, USA
Not only does Captain Tony's Saloon have an old "Hanging Tree" growing up through the middle of the bar, it also holds the claim to fame that during Ernest Hemingway's stint in Key West, this was the location of the original Sloppy Joe's Bar that he frequented on many an occasion.
The bars eclectic décor of stapled dollar bills, post cards and bras, all hanging from the ceiling offer, an insight to the laid back attitude of the locals and the tourists alike. The atmosphere is enhanced by daily live music and kicking back, drinking frozen Rum Runner's, listening to the local artists and maybe swapping tales with the locals is time well spent.

No Name Pub - Big Pine Key, Florida, USA
With a history dating back to 1931, this quirky out of the way watering hole is worth a visit just so you can say you found it. With friendly staff, expensive décor (thousands and thousands of dollar bills are stapled to the ceiling and walls) and a fantastic food menu, getting lost has never sounded so tempting.
Unless you're lucky enough to live in the Florida Keys, visiting No Name Pub, will be about playing tourist and while it is actually very easy to find, it's amazing how many tourists find it just a bit too far off the beaten track from the Overseas Highway and turn back.
With as many friendly locals as tourists enjoying a relaxed drink from the fairly normal Florida drinks selection, while enjoying their huge gourmet pizzas and finishing with the best Key Lime Pie I've had the pleasure of tasting I cannot give a more heartfelt recommendation than Big Pine Key's oldest bar.
Website : No Name Pub

Wet Willie's - Ocean Drive, South Beach, Miami, Florida, USA
A chain bar with an emphasis on Frozen Cocktails, Wet Willie's certainly has plenty of choice. While the entrance area may make you wonder what you're getting into, the upstairs deck area is a gem to watch over the proceedings of Ocean Drive.
Sticking with the fairly comprehensive selection of Frozen Cocktails, you are actively encouraged to extend it further by mixing different cocktails together to make your perfect blend. Guaranteed to get you on your way to being "three sheets to the wind" is a blend of Attitude Improvement and Call a Cab® - both contain Grain Alcohol of at least 153° and the effects are quick. The key here is experimentation, although the result of too much experimentation may well include memory loss and a pair of sunglasses the following morning...
Website : Wet Willie's
40/30 - 30 St Mary Axe, London, United Kingdom
Judged on its so-so service, overpriced and mediocre drinks selection, boring decor and strict door policy alone, I wouldn't be recommending this bar at all. However, the 40/30 bar on the 40th floor of London's Gherkin building wins its recommendation based solely on the 360° view it offers of London. With no supporting columns or walls to block the view, you can stand in the middle of the simply designed bar and only have your view blocked by other patrons or the weather.
It is of course worth pointing out that the door policy is strict but simple: Tenants of the building or members of the £750 per annum Searcys Club - The Gherkin and their guests are allowed access as well as anyone who can afford to hire the whole bar, which rumour has it starts at a sum of at least £9,000 for an evening with food and drinks being extra.
Over the last few years the bar has continued to hike up its prices and whereas before I was happy to say it offered a reasonably priced range of spirits (served by the 50ml), I don't feel I can say that anymore. While it's certainly no more expensive than some of the overpriced upmarket bars in London, being charged £7.20 for a Bacardi Superior and £2.80 for the mixer is simply beyond a joke.
While the service had improved on my last visit, Searcys management justifies their pricing by pointing out that you get the view and that they are no more expensive than some of the bars in Mayfair, however I personally do not agree with their stance that it is a fair justification for having nearly doubled the price of a rum and Coke in the last couple of years. However, despite the negatives, an invitation to one of the world's more unique bars should not be turned down, if only for the view. PS Don't forget your camera...
However, despite the negatives, an invitation to one of the world's more unique bars should not be turned down, if only for the view. If you are fortunate to go don't forget your camera...
Website : 40/30

Floridita - Wardour St, London, United Kingdom
This is not only one of my favourite Latino bars in London, it's also one of my favourite restaurants here too. You will pay for the good food, good drinks and quality of service but for an occasional treat it's well worth it.
My first experience of Floridita was a promotional Diner and Cocktail Masterclass (booked through TopTable), where a friend and myself lucked out by being the only two customers that night on the deal. We had a bartender called Oscar for an hour not only showing us how to make the cocktails, but also getting us to make our own.
Starting with a Classic Daiquiri, then a Bramble, a Cube Libre, a Mojito, a Cosmopolitan and something else. We sat down to dinner after an hour of lessons, a drink in each hand and tipsy to say the least. The meal was great and such a good time was had, I'm seriously thinking about arranging the full Cocktail Masterclass for my next birthday.
Website : Floridita

Guanabara - Parker St, London, United Kingdom
Another of my favourite bars here in London, Guanabara provides a lively mix of Brazilian music, drinks and food. Still serving some of the best Caipirinha cocktails in the United Kingdom, the friendly bar staff have a mixed menu to play with. The emphasis is unsurprisingly Brazilian cocktails and shots of Cachaça, but also includes various fruity incantations of the Cuban classic Mojito as well as a surprisingly good Mai Tai.
As best as I am aware, all the staff from the doormen to the waitresses to the bar staff are Brazilian, which I've always found adds to the atmosphere. Having gained many positive reviews in a large number of publications during the past couple of years, my biggest fear was that the customer base would change with a large influx of city types whose interest isn’t the culture of the bar and its origin, but just finding the latest trendy place to get intoxicated at. Fortuantely this doesn't appear to be the case so far.
Music is always Brazilian, but varies from DJ mixed tunes, often accompanied by a live drummer adding his own beat to the track, through to live bands playing Samba, Bosa Nova, Forró and other styles of Brazilian music. Please keep an eye on the “What’s on” section of Guanabara’s website for both ticketed events, as well as closures for private parties.
Website : Guanabara
Trader Vic's - Park Lane, London, UK
Website : Trader Vic's
Trailer Happiness - 177 Portebello Road, London, UK
Trailer Happiness describes itself as a "Cosmopolitan Kitsch Tiki Bar in Notting Hill." Authentic Tiki cocktails are their speciality and along with Trader Vic's they certainly know how to make a proper Mai Tai. Other notable cocktails sampled last night include the Atomic Punch, Cotton Mouth Killer and a flaming Mexican Head Hunter.
For those that maybe prefer their spirits less diluted, you will find one of the better selections of rums in London town, along with the usual suspects of tequila, vodka, gin and other fine spirits. This isn't surprising as Trailer Happiness has been the home of London's Rum Club for several years now and is often frequented by several notable experts in the rum industry.
Of course it wouldn't be good to drink on an empty stomach and the Trailer's kitchen ensures that this isn't the case. Delicious nibbles and finger food are found aplenty and I can highly recommend the aubergine tempura, the mini burgers and the prawns.
Of course, no bar - no matter how Kitsch, would be complete without a good atmosphere. So if it isn't the laid back tunes, the chances are it'll be the friendly bar staff ensuring that you and your friends leave at the end of the night happier than you started the day. So the next time you're out and about in west London, don't just take my word for it but make sure you soak up the atmosphere and cocktails at Trailer Happiness.

Tusk Bar - Palace of the Lost City Hotel, Sun City, South Africa
This hotel bar is exclusive to the guests of Sun City's beautiful Palace of the Lost City Hotel and the emphasis of its decor is on the exquisitely hand-carved teak tusks. While exclusive, the atmosphere is relaxed and the bar even has an outdoors patio area with views overlooking the hotel grounds.
Pricing for the South African population is towards the expensive, but with the current exchange rates available for the South African Rand drinking here is a fairly cheap experience for foreign visitors. The menu is not vast but is pleasant enough with African themed cocktails such as the African Sunset, where Southern Comfort replaces the traditional Tequila in a Tequila Sunrise and the delicious Palace Express, mixing Vodka, Archers Peach Schnapps and Pineapple Juice, topped off with a float of Amaretto.
Website : Tusk Bar