Smith and Wollensky, The Strand

Five surprisingly upmarket places to watch the 2018 World Cup

Catch all the action in class surrondings. We've found the five best sports bars in the Capital

The World Cup, whether you follow the football or not, provides the perfect excuse – if ever you needed one – for sipping ice-cold beverages in front of the on-screen action.

But there’s a problem: your discerning tastes demand only the finest sports bars, free from the bad behaviour, stale ale and forgettable snacks. Something that can be harder to find than an Englishman with a World Cup winners medal.

Look no further, we’ve searched the Capital for the five best upmarket bars to see you through a glorious summer of sport in style.

The one for those who are as into their food as their football: Brigadiers, Bloomberg Arcade

Five surprisingly upmarket places to watch the 2018 World Cup
Brigadiers in the City

From the team behind Trisha and Gymkhana, and inspired by the bars of India once beloved by military regiments during WWII, Brigadiers opened this month in the City to much fanfare. Surroundings are suitably slick and warren-like in their layout, with everything from the dining room to the two bars and a series of bookable private areas connected via a central pool room.

But it’s the sports shown on screens throughout that make this a surprisingly upmarket perch for football, matched by a kitchen that cooks up the kind of Indian barbecue that could make a grown man weep. A win-win, we say.

The top table

Book the Pot Luck Room, complete with its own entrance and a help-yourself beer station, for a boozy session with friends — concealed away from everyone else, you can cheer as loud as you like (the effort from the England team pending, of course).

What to order during half-time  

The feasting menu is to be cheered at £50 a pop, and includes everything from crowd-pleasing poppadoms and chutneys to whet the appetite through to BBQ butter chicken wings, Afghani lamb kebab skewers and Sikandari kid goat shoulder for the main event. Come hungry.

What to drink when England… shoots and scores! 

Brigadiers Lager and 4th Rifles Pale Ale, both exclusive to the venue, make for serious session pints that can easily be enjoyed for the full 90 minutes; but it’s the Cask Old Fashioned — made from Buffalo Trace, Angostura Bitters, caramel and orange, then hand-pulled via gleaming pump — that really shouts ‘goaaaaal!’

The one for those who like to do it outdoors : The Prince

Five surprisingly upmarket places to watch the 2018 World Cup

Located on Lily road opposite West Brompton tube station The Prince has established itself as a destination befitting London’s biggest beer garden. With three bars and four restaurants, all located under the gloriously decorated pergola you are never short of options to keep you watered and fed during the matches.

If you’re worried that you won’t be able to see all the action in London’s biggest beer garden, don’t be. The large drop down projector screen gives great views anywhere in the garden and even from up on the terrace. So you’ll be able to see every questionable call the ref makes over your cool cocktail.

The top table 

While you can see the screen anywhere it is always a good idea to book in advance. The long tables can accommodate parties of any size but if you want a table close to the screen you might want to head over to the site now and get it booked in before the best tables get snatched up.

What to order during half-time

With four restaurants available there is almost too much choice, with fresh Thai food from the Begging Bowl Canteen, finely fried chicken courtesy of Coqfighter and the sensuous Korean offerings from Foleys. However, our favourite has to be the famous Ari Gold burger from Patty & Bun. A word of warning with this burger, get napkins. You’ll thank us later when your eye is on the game and not on the sauce pouring down your arm on to your new England kit.

What to drink when England…. wins the World Cup! 

The cocktail offering here is off the charts and incredibly speedy from any of the three bars. But such an occasion calls for bubbles and why not have on trend bubbles? With a jeroboam of Mon Rosé de Montrose Rosé, Languedoc for £130. No point in half measures for such a celebration.

The one for those who don’t take their sport too seriously: The London Edition, Fitzrovia

Five surprisingly upmarket places to watch the 2018 World Cup
The Lobby Bar at The London Edition

A high-end hotel doesn’t see like an obvious choice for catching a game, but the London Edition – that slick, Schrager-designed spot in Fitzrovia – has teamed up with Hackney dive bar Bad Sports for a whole host of World Cup action.

It’s all taking place in a downstairs private room-slash-nightclub for the duration of the tournament — starting with Portugal versus Spain on 15th June — during which the takeover will include half-time quizzes and DJs on the decks alongside screenings and a menu of tacos and tequila.

The top table

Entry is free, but we suggest bagging a £20 ticket in advance — including two tacos, beer and cocktail — to ensure you skip past the velvet ropes with ease. Once inside, slink into the front row of the lounge-style seating — you can’t book specific spots, so get there early to guarantee you’re not stuck at the back.

What to order during half-time

The tiny but mighty menu — just two top-notch ‘cheeseborger’ tacos, Korean-fried chicken wings, truffle and gruyère croquettes, and triple-cooked chips — comes courtesy of celebrity chef Phil Carmichael.

For something more substantial, sneak upstairs after the whistle has blown for supper in the restaurant: Michelin-starred Jason Atherton knows his way around a mac ‘n’ cheese, his served with red-wine braised beef blade. A game of two halves, as it were.

What to drink when England… scores an own goal 

While stiffer and significantly more serious drinks can be ordered in the Lobby Bar, Bad Sport is playing with theirs: signature retro serves include slushy margs and banana daiquiris, fun and primed for Instagram.

The one for those who want a boys’ night: Smith and Wollensky, The Strand

Five surprisingly upmarket places to watch the 2018 World Cup
Smith and Wollensky, The Strand

A grand dame in the Grade II-listed Adelphi Building, Smith and Wollensky is a steak joint spread across two floors with massive, American-style hunks of beef on the menu and strong, Gatsby-era cocktails at the bar.

Just for the World Cup, the giga-restaurant — the brand’s first outside of the US, don’t you know — is showing all the action unfold across three, 55-inch plasmas in the ground-level Adelphi Bar. And with everything designed by interiors kingpin Martin Brudnizki, you can count on it being a pretty swish bar to prop up, too.

The top table 

Ain’t nothing wrong with the bar – see killer design credentials above – but those who prefer to show their support for the beautiful game away from prying eyes should book one of the private rooms downstairs. Treat your team to a night in the Theodore Roosevelt Room, which comes with its own bar staffed with a dedicated barman to cater to every thirsty whim. And by jove, you’ll be thirsty.

What to order during half-time

It would be remiss to ignore the special World Cup offer: £20 for a signature Wollensky burger – topped with crispy smoked bacon and gloriously melted cheese – together with fries (and what fries!) and a cold pint. But more remiss still would be to order this, and this alone: bolster your beef patty with a dozen Carlingford oysters from the à la carte to start, a classic Caesar salad on the side, and a slice of that legendary gigantic chocolate cake for afters.

What to drink when England… loses, miserably

Elaborate, new-fangled cocktails are pretty much on rotation throughout the day at the bar. If you want something Dry enough to wipe any tears away, try the signature vodka or gin martini, a 75ml, US-style pour of Belvedere or Sipsmith – and absolutely lethal.

The one for those who can’t cull their Facebook friends: Greenwood

The Greewood bar, Victoria

‘Premium’ and ‘sports lounge’ don’t often team up. But that’s the name of the game at Greenwood, a truly luxe pub in Victoria that’s bloody well gone and done it. And because it’s from ETM – the hospitality group behind The Botanist in Sloane Square and The Jugged Hare in the City – we’re not a bit surprised.

There’s 19 huge  plasmas, and a self-billed ‘super projector’ scattered across the mezzanine-style space, with a central bar, room to dine, and five areas to book for all manner of sporty shenanigans. It’s so big, in fact, you could invite everyone you know on Facebook to a viewing party, and still have room to floss.

The top table 

There aren’t many places in London large enough to accommodate a sports lounge-within-a-sports lounge, but Greenwood isn’t like other places: its Sports Lounge is a private room that can easily accommodate a squad of 180. So gather for pre-gaming drinks and watch kick-off on one of the seven screens attached to the pitch-green walls. There are shuffleboards, too — you know, in case things take a turn for the catastrophic.

What to order during half-time

Special ‘match day platters’, cheerful at £25 per person, are laden with a winning combo of Korean chicken wings, shrimp and bacon croquettes, crispy squid and chilli beef meatballs. Alternatively, 90-inch pizza platters — containing three varieties topped with fresh Italian ingredients — is a no-brainer.

What to drink when England… goes into extra time 

Play the long game with three generous drinks packages from the private bar — for £95, ‘The Pelé’ gets you 20 bottles of ice-cold Heineken or Sol – none of which will have you KO’d after 90 minutes.

Further Reading