The Old Fashioned is the only good cocktail. Most of the others essentially consist of Um Bongo, crushed ice and vodka. It’s a simple drink – but one that deserves to be taken in its natural habitat. Somewhere with a bit of atmosphere. Somewhere dimly lit. Somewhere quiet. Join us now, as we embark on an ongoing quest to discover the most suitable London environment in which to drink that most masculine of alcoholic beverages.
Imagine a world where you’re best friends with Queens Of The Stone Age front man Joshua Homme. Listen, we don’t know how it happened, but it did. This is where you bring him. Jazzy blues-y music flows from the speakers, green leather-backed booths encircle the place, and you could totally imagine your new rock-star pal moodily chain-smoking at the limply lit bar while saying stuff like “you ain’t a man till you’ve broken an asshole’s nose”.
Escape here from: a commute home that only has an undersized portion of last night’s pesto pasta, a flat Holsten Pils, putting the washing away and reading in bed waiting for you at the other end.
Right in the heart of Jack The Ripper’s old stomping grounds, concealed beneath the floorboards of a cheap tailoring shop, you’ll find this place. Remember that butt-clenching opening scene of Inglourious Basterds, in which enemies of the state are discovered hiding under Christoph Waltz’s Nazi feet? Yeah, that sorta vibe but with more leather chairs, crystal glasses and (much) less machine gun fire and anti-Semitism. Their spesh OF is a smoky, maple syrup concoction, and tastes like delicious pancakes.
Escape here when: the malevolent dictator in your life (everyone has one) is making things difficult.
This 24th floor swank palace is a flame to the blue-suited moths of the City. Lunch-exploiting professionals with their ties hanging out of their pockets get through around 200 classic Old Fashioneds a week here. But you know something they don’t. You, sir, are going to ask for bar manager Tim, and request his off-the-menu Old Fashioned instead. His version uses slightly deeper sugar syrup, and Peychaud’s bitters for a more complex anise taste.
Escape here when: a meeting request pops up in your iCal from Carol in HR, with the subject “Discuss recent company expenses anomalies”.
When you’re propping up a candlelit granite bar 10ft under the oldest whisky shop in the capital, and the brilliantly opinionated and clued-up owner hands you an Old Fashioned using a pokey 53.5% bourbon you’ve never heard of, it’s difficult to avoid the suspicion that the outside world as we know it might just be a massive waste of time. You’re in safe hands here.
Escape here when: you need reminding that the dribbling bilge merchants that fill your social media feeds with poorly written rants inspired by half-read Daily Mail headlines do not make up the entirety of the human race. A chat with owner Simo brings relief that some people, at least, still know what they’re talking about.
Things we learned after a chat with a Ruby’s barman: we need to get our hands on some Indian whiskey called Paul John; El Nino is throwing sea snakes onto dry land; there’s lots of heroin in Great Yarmouth; and Mexican wine is a thing. This little converted Chinese takeaway kitchen is where you want to be if you’re boozing solo and don’t want to sit alone in silence.
Escape here from: the realisation that “getting on the housing ladder” means spaffing £725k on a 4ft kitchen with a toilet next to the sink and a bed on top of the fridge. This place will give you a glimmer of hope that you can make something great within your crumbly four walls.
Words and pictures by Mr Hyde alconaut Chris Sayer
An international festival of light
Dinner in a decommissioned 1967 underground carriage
Half-price brunch and a HUGE fried chicken burger