London party

Shot Girl Summer: Your Guide to Hedonism in London


a It-Girl Instagram of the summer? Kate Moss. While the model is apparently very much on the wagon these days, snaps of her 90s heyday have recently gone viral on social media, featuring her equally handsome appearance and cloudy eyes, cigarettes and booze in one hand, either Johnny Depp or Pete Doherty in the other.

And while no one wants another round of troublesome exes, the glorification of Kate’s wild years says one thing: the world finally remembers what it’s like to have fun. Less hot summer for girls, more summer for downcast girls. Here’s where to head to indulge this hedonistic trend.

From bottom to top

Neon Haunt: NQ64 on Berwick Street

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Time to raise a glass to, well, raise a glass. Among old-school places, try Le Beaujolais (WC2H, It’s somewhere for too much wine and pastis and the feeling that Litchfield Street might be an alley in Paris after all. Upstairs is open to everyone, while its notoriously private club downstairs would have served Brad Pitt (unlikely) and Beyoncé (extremely unlikely) – but stranger things have happened. A more modern mantra can be found at Arcade food hall (WC1, It reopened a few months ago with coasters on the central bar proudly bearing the caption ‘bored of wellbeing’. And honestly, now, who isn’t? Probiotic mindfulness can make one. The cocktails, all of around ten, are listed as ideal for ‘the first drink of the day’, an ‘all-day party’ or ‘late night’. In other words, Arcade is set for all hours. Upstairs in Hot Southern Thailand by Luke Farrell Khao Gaeng Square, the Lageritas were the hit, while the £8 Johnnie Walker highball is a bargain. Detention? Never heard of her.

While most London dedicated drinkers shook their last vodka tonics as the millennium approached, one or two survived. Do Gerry’s Club (W1D, 020 7437 4160) in Dean Street really exists, or is it just a drunken example of the Mandela effect? Hard to say, but the set of regulars who go until 3am every night – including journalists, fashionistas and hospitality hoi polloi – swear by the place for its decent drinks at fair prices and great live music. Gerry never existed; you may feel like you’re not doing it the next morning either. Similar is the greek street pillar by Trisha (W1D, @trishas_soho). A more modern way of doing things is at newcomer Suspicious, which is nearly opposite (W1D, The raffish name says it all; the two-story cocktail bar specializes in live music and late nights, and closes at 2:30 a.m. Wednesday through Saturday.

The fact that Bradley’s Spanish Bar (W1T, in Hanway Street is actually a pub that tells you everything you need to know about its confused mind; it closes around midnight but next door is a great underground cocktail bar, Murder Inc (W1T,, where the cocktails are strong, cheap, the staff know their stuff and you always have a good time. Closing is at 2 a.m. on weekends. At the corner of Berwick Street is NQ64, open until 3am (W1F, On the theme of old arcade games, it’s a dizzying journey into its neon lair. After a very, very long night? Canning Town’s BEND (E16, is the only club that stays open reliably and regularly until daybreak. Clubs, however, are a whole different ball game: check out our new guide to the best.

Put on the pomp

Killer: The Lowback

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Going all out doesn’t have to be all Charles Bukowski bars. Hedonism is the pursuit of pleasure, not necessarily overindulgence. Before-dinner martinis have suddenly re-emerged as the drink of the day. The rule about them is quite simple: one is too few, three is too many. At Canary Wharf, under the last Hawksmoor, lower back (E14, is a killer new bar for them, with quality food in the restaurant upstairs. Otherwise, the best ones are found in American bar at the Stafford (SW1A,, which features a new American-inspired menu from executive chef Lisa Goodwin-Allen, or in the unflappable Connaught Bar (W1K,, or the Amaro-Bar (W8, Ask for the Dec’s Martini, named after cocktail titan Declan McGurk. Vodka reliably serves less hangover than gin; drinking less is even better. Mini-martinis are the under-the-counter, off-menu thing in some kind of restaurant by Rita (W1F,, while Tayer + Elementary (EC1V, is famous for its One Sip martinis. They are the ultimate blow.

Alternatively, put a note in the diary for early fall, when a new St-Jean opens at Marylebone Lane (W1U,; it’s Fergus Henderson and Trevor Gulliver’s first new place in seven years and as befits its owners, it embraces a life of good living. Glasses of Fernet Branca can revive even the most tired. The special breakfast will be champagne beignets. Speaking of which, last week Moët & Chandon opened a fizz bar dedicated to Harrods (SW1X,; the room shimmers with golden bubbles in a flute.

Such pomp is essential to living the high life: a hint of fame always helps. Now, the twenty two just off Grovesnor Square (W1K, is the place to be: Jourdan Dunn, Ed Westwick and Rita Ora have all been spotted lately in its blue paneled dining room. The other place that draws the big names is the Pelican at All Saints Road (W11, It’s a classy pub, so indulgence is at your own pace, even when dressing up, but look around – apart from three-star Michelin chef Pierre Koffman, Ellie Goulding and Margot Robbie were Finally, if you’re the type who wants to party but, uh, sleep too, the art of the long lunch is a good thing to master. There’s a comprehensive handy guide here, but if you’re wondering where to start, skip the vegan Honest Burgers – news came yesterday it closed amid low demand – and try the Jackson Boxer spots instead: both orasay and Brunswick House recently hosted parties that spanned an afternoon and evening and rumor has it more may follow. If you’re out late, Boxer’s Chinatown bar Under the stone nest (W1D, is the perfect spot for a stylish nightcap: open until 2am Wednesday-Saturday, it’s like the basement equivalent of Sessions Arts Club, has a live jazz band and serves drinks for £8.50.

Life is a cabaret

High living: Christabel’s

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As the cabaret sector has faltered, stabilizing post-pandemic, the stage lights are shining brighter than ever. At the end of the ladder that widens the eyes, the box in Walker’s Court (W1F, found itself all the rage after hosting the Brits’ after-party: check it out — well, listen, I can’t quite say; find out for yourself. Speaking of decency, there’s an underground bar by that name in theNomadic (WC2E,, where they promise “unscripted surprises” – cabaret drag tends to be the thing. Near Piccadilly Circus, inside Crazy Coqs from the Zedel Brewery (W1F, is launching Halcyon Nights, an up-and-coming ’50s-style glam, hosted by West End star Joanna Woodward next month.

Meanwhile, just off Berkeley Square, Chinese club (W1J, is also relaunching its cabaret act with the aptly named Show Reborn: 23 numbers are played every Wednesday-Saturday until 2am. Wilder, however, is likely to be Christabel’s, under the Windmill Theater (W1T,; it’s promising high-life (starred food, live bands, cigars and champagne), but it’s the burlesque that should make its reputation. There’s also a sense that inhibitions aren’t particularly welcome: former Primal Scream and Oasis manager Alan McGee, a regular at his former Fitzrovia spot, says: “The only difference is that in the 80s , this place would have an orgy. “Maybe be grateful it’s 2022 after all.

That’s not to say, moving away from cabaret, that there aren’t a lot of sex-positive parties. There are quite a few that operate in a queer-friendly way: the biggest evil party right now is Cross (, which is proudly as progressive as it is (consensually) perverted, but check out Oliver Keens’ comprehensive guide to all the fun, including Meat, Thorn, HTBX and HOWL. After all, to destroy a Rita Mae Brown line, the only reason to be alive is to enjoy it.