The Best New Bars Openings: May

From a new spot in Covent Garden celebrating 17th-century England’s love of exploration to an immersive new space in Shepherd’s Bush where you have to solve puzzles in exchange for your drinks, here are the five spots we’ll be drinking in this month.

Rockwell, Covent Garden

Rockwell has opened its doors on Trafalgar Square. Taking inspiration from the 17th and 18th century – an era which brought exotic fauna and travelling menageries to the streets of London – the bar evokes an almost mythical world, with herbaceous plants and vivid artwork capturing the strange and unfamiliar. Among the verdure, the lounge is fringed by large Longifolia Cabana trees and banquettes are upholstered in luxurious fabrics. Heading up the bar is Marco Ercolano, previously at The Rivoli Bar at The Ritz and Mr Fogg’s. Marco’s cocktail list draws influence from the arrival of exotic imports retrieved through culinary exploration alongside traditional English spirits. ‘Fish in Flight’ will feature strawberry-infused whisky with citrus, apple and rhubarb while the ‘Winged Fawn’ will include white port, champagne and watermelon. In addition to his alcoholic serves, Marco’s menu will feature mocktails and low-ABV cocktails, each using produce sourced from Growing Underground, a subterranean farm located 33 metres below the streets of Clapham. 

2 Spring Gardens, Trafalgar Square, SW1A 2TS


The Shouk, City

This month, Farmer J – the restaurant group known for bringing the best of the fields to the City – launched a new bar in its King William Street site. Named The Shouk, the bar is inspired by Tel Aviv’s lively bar scene. Like the restaurant itself, the bar menu focuses on fresh ingredients. We like the sound of the ‘Strawberry Mule’, made with kombucha, vodka, strawberries, basil and ginger  and the ‘Tahini Martini’, a vegan cocktail of tahini, vodka and dates. Farmer J has also created a menu dedicated to gin, offering a selection of innovative twists on gin and tonics. Also on hand will be a selection of plates from the bar’s ‘Graze’ menu. Inspired by Mediterranean flavours, dishes will include grilled chorizo served with yoghurt and chimichurri dip; squid crumbed with a z’atar crust and tahini sauce; and polenta-spiced sweet potatoes.

24-32 King William Street, City, EC4R 9AT


The Wine Parlour, Brixton

Brixton Village has opened the doors to a second outpost of The Wine Parlour. This new addition serves as a one-stop shop for those looking to purchase or sample a wide range of wines, offering customers wine to try on-site, take home or enjoy in the neighbouring BYO restaurants in the market. Encouraging a ‘try before you buy’ culture, the shop’s focus is on sustainable wines and lesser known grapes from small family-run vineyards, many of which source exclusively to The Wine Parlour. Both New World and Old World are represented, with bottles from Greece, Germany, Australia, California and Australia among many others. Craft beers and spirits are also available to purchase. The cosy destination has eight bar seats inside and a further 15 outside around barrels. Customers can expect weekly changing black boards and an uncomplicated menu of wines, beers and spirits. The perfect spot for a relaxing weekday drink.

89 Brixton Village, Brixton, SW9 8PR


Top of the Pop, Tooting

Top of the Pop is a new cocktail bar in Tooting Market. Located above street food spot Poptata, the bar is an all-day hangout featuring high tables with copper-accented stools and communal benches for larger groups, plus industrial-style pink beams and geometric patterned tiles offset by a wall of foliage. Top Of The Pop offers a playful selection of drinks – including a gin and tonic trolley as well as cocktails on tap. The tap bar includes summer favourites such as espresso martinis and Aperol spritzes, while a signature cocktail menu focuses on botanical twists on classic cocktails: a ‘Feisty Sour’ features fortified Amaretto, grapefruit juice, lime juice and smokey syrup while the ‘Girlie Door’ mixes Belvedere vodka with Luxardo Maraschino, pineapple, Belvoir raspberry and rose cordial.

Tooting Market, 20 Totterdown Street, Tooting, SW17 8TA


The Mind Palace, Shepherd’s Bush

The team at escape room Sherlock: The Game Is Now has added a brand-new immersive element: The Mind Palace, a private cocktail club for the curious. Hidden within the walls of the W12 Shopping Centre, guests will be able to reserve a spot at the Sherlock-inspired speakeasy as a standalone experience. Events at the bar include puzzling cocktail hunts, Sherlock screenings and ‘The Case of the Poisoned Chalice’ – where in order to enjoy a cocktail, players will need to solve a number of puzzles to win all the ingredients for a special cocktail, while avoiding being thwarted by Sebastian Moran, Moriarty’s right-hand man. Themed drinks – each inspired by a Sherlock episode – include ‘The Blind Banker’: Absolut Strawberry with earl grey tea and strawberry shrub served in a teapot and ‘The Hounds of Baskerville’: smoked Chivas 12-year with aromatic bitters served on a block of ice.

Secret location in W12 Shopping Centre, Shepherd's Bush, W12 8PP


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