Raise a glass of the finest Negronis in town with our bar guide.
Usually, I let “National X Day/Week” pass by unnoticed, because they’re more often than not a flimsy marketing ploy. However, I make exceptions for some, and National Negroni Week is one that’s obviously getting the full Secret London treatment. Regularly vying with espresso martinis for the unofficial right to be known as London’s favourite cocktail, Negronis are a mainstay on cocktail bar menus around the capital (which may have something to do with the fact that it’s three parts alcohol and nothing else).
Few things top the original Negroni – more bitter than me after my latest rent payment, just with a spiral of orange peel – but since the cocktail lends itself to experimentation, there are plenty of winning riffs you’ve got to try. Here are our favourite Negroni bars in London – and after writing this, all I can say is we have a lot to thank Count Camillo Negroni for…
1. Vermuteria, Kings Cross
Where better to start on Negroni Quest 2020 than at a cocktail bar with one of London’s biggest vermouth collections? Vermuteria can serve you aperitifs and digestifs to your heart’s content, and three different Negronis – including one with chamomile-infused Tanqueray gin – should all be considered. You can even trace the origins of the Negroni with a Milano-Torino, the drink which birthed both the Americano and the Negroni.
38/39 Coal Drops Yard, N1C 4DQ. Nearest station is Kings Cross St Pancras.
2. Bar Termini, Soho
Italian style in the heart of Soho. Staying true to the purest definition of a Negroni is a good option here, but Bar Termini aren’t afraid to mix things up with Rosato, Bergamot, and Rhubarb variations. Premade takeaway bottles offer the chance of multiple servings if your own Negroni-making skills aren’t up to scratch.
7 Old Compton Street, Soho, W1D 5JE. Nearest stations are Tottenham Court Road and Leicester Square.
3. Frank’s Cafe, Peckham (summer only)
Frank’s Cafe simply is Negronis. Of course, Frank’s Cafe is simply also rooftop views, art installations, and cracking small plates, but there’s something quintessentially London about standing on the roof of a Peckham car park sipping Negronis and watching the sunset. Really, if you could bottle the London summer, it would taste something like this – and for that, Frank’s Cafe has to make our list.
95A Rye Lane, SE15 4ST. Nearest station is Peckham Rye.
4. Little Mercies, Crouch End
Neighbourhood cocktail bar Little Mercies know exactly what the fine people of Crouch End want: a slowly rotating cast of house Negronis, each with a wickedly inventive twist. They’re currently in the process of developing their winter offering, but a recent Pomegranate Negroni was a standout hit – and you can still buy a bottle of Rhubarb Negroni from their online shop. Much like Pokemon, you’ve really got to catch them all here…
20 Broadway Parade, Crouch End, N8 9DE. Nearest stations are Highgate and Crouch Hill.
5. Gloria, Shoreditch
Fabulously OTT restaurant Gloria aren’t exactly renowned for subtlety, which makes their Montenegroni perhaps the only outlier. The traditional Negroni is given a smoky, fragrant twist with Earl Grey Campari Bitter and Martini Riserva Rubino, for a delicately enjoyable tipple. It’s in stark contrast to their giant pizzas, wheels of cheese, and outrageously gluttonous lemon meringue pies…
54-56 Great Eastern Street, Shoreditch, EC2A 3QR. Nearest stations are Old Street and Shoreditch High Street.
6. London Shuffle Club, Shoreditch
Yes, this is a little bit of a rogue choice, given that the main focus is on low-stakes yet highly competitive shuffleboard action rather than cocktails. However, Secret London’s very own Georgie has pronounced the Knock Off Negroni one of the best cocktails she’s ever had – and whilst it had an abysmal effect on her shuffleboard skills, it’s certainly worth trying.
4 Ebor Street, Shoreditch, E1 6AW. Nearest station is Shoreditch High Street.
7. Forza Wine, Peckham
Forza Wine does to Negronis what past geniuses have done to margaritas, rosé, and daiquiris, and freezes them. Forza Wine’s frozen Negronis (or Frogronis, as they call it. Should it be Nefrozis? We’ll leave you to decide) are the greatest of grown-up slushies, and their lovely rooftop bar is a perfect staging for such a champion drink.
133 Rye Lane, Peckham, SE15 4ST. Nearest station is Peckham Rye.
8. Duck and Waffle, Liverpool Street
If, like me, you often find yourself torn between a Negroni and an espresso martini, perchance Duck and Waffle’s Ristretto Negroni will bridge the gap? The sky-high restaurant flavour their cocktail with slow drip coffee, giving it the whole “wake you up and fuck you up” kick of the beloved espresso martini. Get you a cocktail that can do both…
40th floor, 110 Bishopsgate, EC2N 4AY. Nearest station is Liverpool Street.
9. LINO, Barbican
Another cocktail bar with a quirky history (this one used to be a linoleum factory back in the day, hence the name), LINO make a mean barrel-aged Negroni. They’re not afraid to shake up a classic, too – so keep an eye on the specials if you’re paying a visit.
90 Bartholomew Close, EC1A 7EB. Nearest station is Barbican.
10. Mele e Pere, Soho (reopening TBC)
The biggest selection of vermouths in town leads, quite naturally, to a banging Negroni. Mele e Pere describe their house Negroni as “our pride and joy”, and make it with East London Liquor Co gin and a healthy glug of their house blend vermouth. So, in essence, the best of London and Italy!
46 Brewer Street, Soho, W1F 9TF. Nearest station is Piccadilly Circus.
11. Fitz’s Bar, Bloomsbury (reopening TBC)
There’s a lot to like about Fitz’s Bar, from the plush fixtures and upholstery, to the cocktail menu, which is stuffed full of inventive and enticing concoctions. Naturally, we’ve zoomed in on just one – the Vesca Negroni, which is flavoured with woodland strawberry, aloe, and coconut for a truly unique spin on the classic drink. Definitely one for your list once it reopens.
Russell Square, Bloomsbury, WC1B 5BE. Nearest station is Russell Square.
12. Do Not Disturb, City of London (reopening TBC)
Found in the basement of City hotel Vintry & Mercer, Do Not Disturb is currently living up to its name, as they’re still in hibernation as a result of the lockdown. Still, when they’re open, you can pop along for one of London’s best Negronis – barrel-aged in Riesling barrels, it uses Bimber gin, Belsazar Red Vermouth, and Campari to concoct a winner.
20 Garlick Hill, EC4V 2AU. Nearest station is Mansion House.
13. Street Pizza, Camden and City of London
Very much stretching the definition of a cocktail here, but once you’ve drunk your fill of Negronis, you can eat your fill. Yes, really. Street Pizza, which is a Gordon Ramsay project, are perhaps best known for their bottomless pizza feasts – by all means scoff all the slices you can, but save room for dessert, which is a limitless amount of Negroni ice cream. A grown-up dessert to inspire child-like wonder, if ever there was one!
Find them at York & Albany (127-129 Parkway, NW1 7PS) or Bread Street Kitchen (10 Bread Street, EC4M 9AJ).
BONUS OPTION – The Clumsies, Athens
Yes, I’ve gone way off script here, but as Secret London’s editor I hereby bestow upon myself the power to do just that. It’s all for a good cause: to spotlight the very best Negroni – and indeed, cocktail – in the world, in my humble opinion. The Aegean Negroni, which you’ll find at Athenian cocktail bar The Clumsies, combines Tanqueray gin, vermouth, martini bitter, fennel seeds, and diktamus (an aromatic plant native to Crete) for a truly unforgettable drink – and I’m by no means the only one championing it, as The Clumsies is ranked as the sixth best cocktail bar in the world. Whilst getting to Greece is rather tricky right now, you may not actually need to, as they’ve been known to pop up in London from time to time…