“My only regret in life is that I did not drink more Champagne,” is a quote attributed to John Maynard Keynes, and one that I can totally get on board with. It’s luscious stuff; sharp, sweet, and synonymous with decadence, Christmas, birthdays and weddings. Happy times. It’s also pretty good if you’re feeling sad, bored or irritated, and there’s plenty of time for that in London. So, I compiled a list of the best Champagne bars to toast successes, quell fears or drown regrets.
A laid-back, non-pretentious Champagne bar in the heart of the city with a smoking terrace and excellent Champagnes on offer at reasonable prices? Yes indeed. Champagne Cult is just a small walk from Liverpool Street and if asked to describe the atmosphere, I’d have to say ‘louche’. The owner decorated the bar herself and also makes the bread on the menu; her background includes interior design and, incongruously, the military. When it comes to prices, P Louis Martin is just £10.50 a glass, £45 a bottle. Champagne cocktails are around £11.
This is a great place for pretty much any social excursion; expect post-work drinks crowds and the odd first date. It’s also ideal for a lunch meeting; just make sure you get any business out of the way before the bubbles go to your head.
Shopping getting too much for you? Hix, which is snugly nestled in the heart of Selfridges, is the perfect place to relax, unwind and glance nervously at all the bags you seem to have accumulated throughout the day.
The menu has some slightly racy additions; try the Porn Star Martini (a passion fruit martini with a cheeky shot of Champagne on the side), and if you’re hungry, we recommend the Champagne afternoon tea; a selection of sandwiches, cakes and pastries which will set you back a cool £34.75. Perversely, Hix also do a great selection of detox juices, so if you’ve damaged yourself with excess Champagne, this is where you can repair yourself. Accompany your drink with nuts and olives, a plate of oysters, or a simple spot of good old-fashioned people watching.
Yes, it’s inside a station; but don’t be fooled into thinking that Searcys is the usual grubby pre-journey haunt; it’s actually the longest Champagne bar in Europe. Located on the top floor of St Pancras, Searcys Champagne Bar has recently undergone a transformation, and now features even more decadent extras for Champagne-seeking guests.
You can now enjoy heated leather seating, pull curtain blankets around the booth tables to keep warm during chillier months, and even utilise the call button system for when your glasses run a little dry. Top-ups at your fingertips.
The extensive Champagne list accommodates the largest selection of Grand Marque houses in the UK, with 17 styles available by the glass. Hic.
Guess what this place specialises in? This small but perfectly formed deli is cute and quirky in equal measure, and is the perfect place to spend an afternoon chatting with friends and family.
Choose from 16 varieties of vintage Champagne, and don’t panic when it comes to the cheese selection – the staff will help you pick out the perfect accompaniment. Plus, if you love the fizz you’ve been drinking, they’ll be happy to pick out a bottle for you to take home or buy as a girft for a fellow Champagne lover.
The Fromagerie offers more than 50 French soft and hard cheeses, and a wide range of cooked meat, pâtés, ham and sausages. Don’t feel intimidated by all the tasty fizz and food on display; you can attend monthly Champagne and cheese master classes cut through the industry jargon and find out how to marry cheese and Champagne successfully.
Kettner’s is always synonymous with West End glamour – and from the minute you step inside its unassuming doors, you’ll soon see why. Its ornate French décor and luxurious atmosphere impresses without appearing ostentatious and the clientele through the years have included Bing Crosby and Oscar Wilde as previous diners over the years. These visitors have left their mark; the cocktail menu is inspired by the characters of Kettner’s scandalous past, including the signature ‘High and Wilde’ bellini, created in honour of Wilde.
Kettner’s is definitely the place to head to if nothing but full-on hedonism will do. It has one of the most extensive Champagne lists in London, with over one hundred varieties, many from small family growers.
Vicky Anscombe is Editor-in-Chief at Columbus Direct.