These are the best bars in Britain for martini enthusiasts

From Leeds to London, these are the British cocktail bars to visit if you're looking for a finely-mixed martini...

How do you mix the perfect martini? It’s not a trick question. But it also doesn’t have anything to do with twists or garnishes. Nor does it depend on whether it’s made dirty or dry. And it certainly isn’t determined by your shaking, stirring or straining. No, as any bartender worth their sleeve garters will tell you, the success of a good martini starts and ends with one thing; the quality of your gin.

Because, if you don’t kick off your cocktail with a top-notch tipple, no amount of flavourings, syrups or spins will save it. No added flair or final flourishes will bring it back from the edge — and you’ll be forced to start over. It’s a truth universally understood by bartenders, and that’s why No.3 London Dry Gin called upon the best in the bar community before its first fired up the stills. 

And it was this panel of intoxicating, insightful experts who advised the green-bottled brand to its internationally-renowned reputation. They were adamant that the gin should have an ABV of over 45%, to ensure the fullest flavours held fast in a classic cocktail. So, after blending in citrus and spice, the brand landed at 46% — and the distinctive spirit was born. 

It also mixes the best martinis. And that’s why, whenever Gentleman’s Journal is heading out for a classic cocktail, we’ll ensure the bar stocks No.3 London Dry Gin beforehand. Below, we’ve rounded up ten of Britain’s best martini-drinking destinations, from Leeds to London…

The Aubrey, London

Where is it? The Mandarin Oriental, in London’s salubrious Knightsbridge. Bordering Hyde Park, this decadent drinking den takes its name from Oscar Wilde’s opulent contemporary, illustrator Aubrey Beardsley.

Why is it so good? Because the bar features the first ‘Omakase-style’ drinking experience in London, which means the menu of cocktails can be twisted and tweaked to suit each guest’s exact tastes and preferences.

What should you order? Thanks to the ‘Omakase-style’ service of this inimitable ‘Izakaya’ bar, the bartenders will put an idiosyncratic spin on your No.3 London Dry Gin with just a nudge in the right direction. Top tip: they can work wonders with Japanese pear flavours.

These are the best bars in Britain for martini enthusiasts

The Aubrey, London

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The Domino Club, Leeds

Where is it? In lively Leeds; the Yorkshire city rapidly climbing the cocktail-making ladder. Found in the Grand Arcade, a Grade II listed location, this sultry speakeasy bar is tucked underground, and frequently features live music.

Why is it so good? The whole experience. You enter The Domino by passing through a barbershop, and sneaking down the stairs at the back past a doorman. Inside, it’s exceedingly dark — save for the backlit bar.

What should you order? The ‘Domino Gin Martini’. Specify No.3 London Dry Gin as your spirit of choice, and the bartenders will use this to create their classic cocktail; with French vermouth and a splash of mezcal. £9.50.

These are the best bars in Britain for martini enthusiasts

The Domino Club, Leeds

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Hyde & Co, Bristol

Where is it? Bristol — mere minutes from the southern city’s main museum district. And, while it may be hundreds of miles from the Yorkshire bar above, Hyde & Co shares similar speakeasy characteristics with The Domino Club.

Why is it so good? There’s the low-lit, rich red ambience, and comfy sofas dotted about. But the big draw is the cocktail list. While the classics abound (see below), there are some truly tongue-grabbing twists on traditional serves.

What should you order? Firmly in the bar’s ‘Classics’ section, the gin-based martinis are split into three spirit-soaked bands. Sitting atop the offerings is the No.3 London Dry Gin option, blended with dry vermouth and costing £12.

These are the best bars in Britain for martini enthusiasts

Hyde & Co, Bristol

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Dukes Bar, London

Where is it? Nestled in the heart of historic St. James’s Mayfair, Dukes Bar is utterly classic and hidden down a cul-de-sac by Green Park. Upstairs, you’ll find Dukes Hotel; a series of elegant suites and rooms.

Why is it so good? Because it’s the real deal. It’s the realest deal in the entire capital — perhaps even in Britain. 007 creator Ian Fleming was even a firm fixture in the area, getting his shirts from Turnbull & Asser, aftershave from Floris — and cocktails from Dukes.

What should you order? What else? The Ian Fleming Classic ‘Vesper’ Martini, mixed by barman Alessandro Palazzi using No.3 Gin, Potocki Vodka, Angostura Bitters and Sacred Dukes Exclusive Amber Vermouth. £18.

These are the best bars in Britain for martini enthusiasts

Dukes Bar, London

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Dakota Bar, Manchester

Where is it? On Manchester’s Ducie Street. And this bar, like Dukes Bar above, can be found in a hotel. Dakota Manchester is one of the largest, most luxurious hotels in the city — equal parts glitz and gilded glamour.

Why is it so good? Because it goes above and beyond the standards set for most hotel bars. Plush, darkly lit and with an air of lavish, louche hedonism, it’s got a stellar cocktail menu — and staff who really know their stuff.

What should you order? The standard martini (£14) here is mixed using No.3 (Grey Goose for the vodka option). But there are also Espresso, Passion Fruit or French options — and a mean Aviation, mixed using No.3, Maraschino, Violette and lemon juice.

These are the best bars in Britain for martini enthusiasts

Dakota Bar, Manchester

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Dark Horse, Bath

Where is it? On the Somerset city’s picturesque Kingsmead Square — just a hot stone’s throw from Bath’s famous thermal spas. Relaxed and discerning, the place is panelled with wooden accents and features antique decor. 

Why is it so good? Because this bijou, boujee bolthole serves a seasonal menu; one that focuses on fresh and local ingredients to ensure both the most sustainable and distinctive drinks for locals and visitors alike. 

What should you order? The Dark Horse’s Dry Martini. Served with an elegant dash of dry vermouth and your choice of either lemon zest, cocktail olive or silverskin onions. Make sure you stipulate No.3 London Dry Gin.

These are the best bars in Britain for martini enthusiasts

Dark Horse, Bath

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Donovan Bar, London

Where is it? Named after the legendary ‘Swinging Sixties’ photographer Terence Donovan, this sophisticated, stylish bar sits on the ground floor of Brown’s Hotel in Mayfair — and has the artist’s black-and-white prints hanging on the walls. 

Why is it so good? Because, with the iconic photographs looking down at you, every sip will be accompanied by a slice of London history — in the svelte shapes of Twiggy, Julie Christie and Jean Shrimpton.

What should you order? We’d go for the ‘Breakfast Martini’. With a hint of citrus and a lingering bittersweet marmalade flavour, this all-day cocktail contains No.3 Gin, Cointreau, lemon juice and orange marmalade. £21.

These are the best bars in Britain for martini enthusiasts

Donovan Bar, London

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The Maven, Leeds

Where is it? Back in Leeds. But, whilst The Domino Club may have been a classically cagey speakeasy, The Maven is shamelessly stylish — and endlessly cool. Think high stools, eccentric touches and fantastic drinks.

Why is it so good? This brashness. Everything is bold — from the decor to the flavours. And the ‘Cocktail Tasting Experience’ is one of the best we’ve ever shaken, stirred and sipped; a chance for the bartenders to really show off.

What should you order? We’d put the ‘tenders to the test; see if they can mix a No.3 special — the ‘Northern Light Martini’. If they need a nudge, it’s 50ml No. 3 London Dry Gin, 15ml Mancino Bianco Vermouth, 5 Dashes of D.O.M Benedictine and 5 Dashes of Peach Liqueur.

These are the best bars in Britain for martini enthusiasts

The Maven, Leeds

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The Daisy at Evelyn’s, Manchester

Where is it? Manchester’s Northern Quarter. A co-working space by day, subterranean cocktail den and edgy wine bar by night, The Daisy brings a hint of Paris’ Pigalle District to the burgeoning British city. 

Why is it so good? It’s got the same deep, cosy sofas of Bristol’s Hyde & Co — but a similar stripped-back cool of The Maven above. Even the cocktails show off this culture-clashing, mish-mashing mix of different delectable influences.

What should you order? Despite some more eyebrow-raising, tastebud-tingling options on the menu, we’d keep things classic; a gin martini — mixed in house with Belsazar White vermouth and a lemon twist to garnish. £9.50.

These are the best bars in Britain for martini enthusiasts

The Daisy at Evelyn’s, Manchester

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Scarfes Bar, London

Where is it? Not far from the art-fuelled bustle of London’s Covent Garden. Sitting on High Holborn, Scarfes Bar is the on-site drinking den for the Rosewood Hotel, and gives off cocktail-fuelled, clubby vibes. 

Why is it so good? There’s live jazz every day of the week. What more could you want? True, the ever-changing cocktail menu is one-of-a-kind — we love the current ‘Off The Wall’ theme — but the music is what really makes it. 

What should you order? The gins here are split into sections, from ‘Peculiar’ to ‘Floral’; ‘Malty’ to ‘Harmonious’. No.3 London Dry Gin falls into the latter category, which makes it ideal for mixing into the bar’s ‘Peach Flower Martini’.

These are the best bars in Britain for martini enthusiasts

Scarfes Bar, London

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The Goring Cocktail Bar

Where is it? By Buckingham Palace, in Belgravia. The Goring is London’s last remaining family-owned luxury hotel, crafted over a century by a single family. And the cocktail bar, opulent and lavishly decorated, is one of the best hotel haunts in the capital. 

Why is it so good? The sheer decadence. From the plush bar stools to the studded leather armchairs, every elegant perch in the place will give you a first class view of the palatial decor — and the signature cocktail list is equally sophisticated. 

What should you order? We’d go for a ‘Vesper Martini’ again. Unlike Dukes’ offering, The Goring uses Kina L’aero d’Or, and serves the classic cocktail shaken not stirred.

These are the best bars in Britain for martini enthusiasts

The Goring Cocktail Bar

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Langan’s Brasserie

Where is it? On Stratton Street, by Green Park station. Langan’s is a time-tested brasserie, originally owned by Michael Caine — and with some of the finest food in the area. There’s also an eight-strong ‘Martini’ section on the bar menu.

Why is it so good? Because No.3 Gin has worked with NUDE contemporary glassware to create the perfect martini glass, and Langan’s (as well as The Goring, The Donovan Bar and Scarfes Bar) is one of the drinking spots to deploy it. 

What should you order? Though you could go for a ‘Lychee Martini’ or a ‘Smokey’, made with a dash of Laphroaig whisky, we’d stick to the classic — served with an olive or lemon twist in the new No.3 glass.

These are the best bars in Britain for martini enthusiasts

Langan’s Brasserie

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