Raise a glass to the wine bar renaissance
Move over, Aperol bars and gin terraces – Stylist
’s Jenny Tregoning
heralds in the coolest new wave of drinking dens
Return of the grape
Picture the scene: it’s a drizzly Saturday night in 2007 and your parents have got their “glad rags” on because they’re heading out to the local wine bar, while teenage you intends on moping around in your PJs watching High School Musical. Which is to say: wine bars were definitely not the place to be.
But in 2019 the wine bar is very much back. Since Clapton hipster magnet P Franco became the name-drop of choice a couple of years back, wine bars have been shaking off their stuffy image and cool new venues have laid down roots all over the city. Hell, there are three within walking distance of my Leyton flat.
And it’s not just the perky Pét-Nat that’s the draw – laid-back industrial interiors, small plates from the UK’s most exciting chefs, and friendly staff who truly know their stuff have seen us flocking back to the humble grape (that’s another wine bar, by the way) in our droves. Here’s our pick of London’s best wine bars.
Diogenes The Dog, Elephant And Castle
Named after a Greek philosopher, this south London bar aims to upend everything you know about wine. The menu is arranged by ‘tone’ not country, so you’re encouraged to swap your trusty pinot noir for a lesser-known grape from an emerging region such as Texas or Poland. There are regular poetry workshops, jazz nights and LGBTQ+ events, as well as wine-tasting courses, while the bottle shop means you can take your favourite vino home with you. And think about it. Deeply. 96 Rodney Road, SE17
Flor, Borough Market
Lyle’s in Shoreditch was one of just two UK restaurants to make the World’s 50 Best list last month, so all eyes are on the team’s next venture: a wine bar and bakery in Borough Market. Taking inspiration from the low-key drinking establishments of Paris and San Sebastián, you can tuck into cured mangalitsa and comté sandwiches while working through the 100-strong wine list. And the bakery sounds insane: caramel-filled brioche, birch syrup Kouign-amanns and sourdough loaves. Bread and wine elevated to divine status. 1 Bedale Street, SE1
Lady Of The Grapes, Covent Garden
Sometimes we feel like a bit of a broken record here at Stylist but wine-making, like many, many other industries, is dominated by men. So Carole Bryon set up Lady Of The Grapes to redress the balance. The bar champions female vintners, with 80% of the wines on offer made by women (their names are included on the menu for a well-deserved shout-out), and the teeny, candlelit venue has an excellent selection of cheeses – an essential wine accompaniment. 6 Maiden Lane,WC2E
The Drop, Kings Cross
An intimate, bare-brick hideaway in winter, The Drop comes into its own in summer, with space for 50 to perch around barrels while sipping rosé and pretending you’re on the Côte d’Azur. It’s from the brains behind Barrafina and El Pastor, so food is top-rate, while the wine list focuses on low-intervention varieties. We’ve mentioned its themed Drop-In events before (the next is Greek wine on 6 August), but honestly, this place is just so good we couldn’t leave it off the list. Unit 22-24, Bagley Walk Arches, Coal Drops Yard, N1C
If wine isn’t your thing, we’ve got just the ticket for you
Eighty breweries. One East End warehouse. Five hours to taste your way round the world’s best craft beers. From 9-11 August, London Craft Beer Festival returns for its biggest event yet. The entry price includes unlimited samples of brews from the likes of Five Points, Evil Twin and all-female brewing collaborative Mothership, while Hot Chip and Ultimate Power (aka the most fun power ballad night) provide the soundtrack. Keep fuelled with food from London’s finest: Brigadiers, The Palomar and Club Mexicana. From £40, Tobacco Dock, Tobacco Quay, Wapping Lane, E1W ●JT
See the first 3D exhibition from paper-cutter extraordinaire Rob Ryan
You might have previously admired Rob Ryan’s intricate, romantic paper cut-outs on a card, print or even a Stylist front cover. Now, the much-imitated artist is venturing into the world of sculpture. His latest exhibition features just one piece: a bright, greenery spotted geometric model of a volcano, the side of which can be ascended via a set of stairs to peer inside. Just as beautiful as anything he’s made before. Until 28 July; The Old Bank Vault, 283 Hackney Road, E2
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Image credits: Getty; Daniel Ogulewicz
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