“It looks sorta like an 1980s cocaine den held together with masking tape in here,” says Robin, the towering Scot who hands us White Lyan’s flagship Beeswax Old Fashioned. The USP here, apart from looking like Ike Turner’s basement, is that everything is pre-made, batched up in bottles and ready to hit your hands in seconds. The result is a waxy, soothing and surprisingly incredible Old Fashioned. Even Jay Z (who dropped by recently) couldn’t leave without pocketing a bottle to take home.
Escape here when: even this video can’t raise a smile.
And there it is, right at the top of Artesian’s whisky menu: a measure of Macallan single malt for an eye-watering £115. It’s enough to make you nervous about what you’re almost sure were complimentary crisps. But you’re not here to worry about money. You’re here to slouch back and to watch head bartender Phillip agonise over an ice ball like a scientist splitting atoms, adding specially selected bourbon by the microdrop. If only they could see you now. You’re the king. The king of the universe!
Escape here when: a recent dispute with Parcelforce has been resolved in your favour.
Hidden behind a blindfolded swine doorknocker is this, a dimly lit American-style bolthole. It’s not just the classy speakeasy décor that makes us want to go back however, but the top-drawer bartender chat. Collar Jamie, whose bourbon knowledge is as absorbing as falling down a YouTube wormhole, especially when talking about his personal collection of American whiskies. Fella’s got a 100-year-old bottle of pre-prohibition liquor tucked away that makes absolutely every possession of ours seem like a sad waste of money, time and space.
Escape here when: mid-shopping trip, your other half drops a £195 decorative paper lampshade into the basket and gives you an “Oh, this is happening” look.
If you haven’t picked up Henry Miller’s filthy Tropic Of Cancer by now, you really should, if only to read it here, at London’s oldest French members’ club. You’ll feel like you’re retracing the author’s turbo-drunken stumblings around 1930s Paris. The old, labyrinthine townhouse, once a favourite retreat of Princess Diana, hums with the memories of super exclusive and debauched parties. Luckily the bar’s open to riff raff like us. Good news if you’re up for sampling their French whisky Old Fashioned. Yep, whisky from FRANCE. World’s gone mad. And we like it.
Escape here when: you want to walk in the syphilis-infused footsteps of London’s most intemperate dissolutes.
For a very worthwhile one-off membership fee of £35, you can strut into this cosy, King’s Cross 1970s-style man den and instantly feel like a real-life trouser-splitting Dirk Diggler. From the limestone rock wall to the metal fireplace, this unironically old-school subterranean hideout looks and feels very much like the sort of place a hunky plumber might turn up to service a buxom blonde’s appliances, ifyaknowwhatwemean! Wink wink. (It looks like an old-fashioned adult film set, basically.)
Escape here when: the 21st century just doesn’t cut it.
Words and pictures by Mr Hyde alconaut Chris Sayer. Read Part One of our quest right here
An international festival of light
Dinner in a decommissioned 1967 underground carriage
Half-price brunch and a HUGE fried chicken burger