9 London Bars Embracing New Venue Trends

Food and Drink
September 30, 2019

There are as many food and drink trends as there are tube stations in London – which means bars, pubs and restaurants are pulling out all the stops to give customers more reasons to visit and come back to their venues.

We’ve identified four macro consumer drivers which encapsulate what’s relevant now, and what will happen next, in the world of food and drink as venues seek ever-more creative ways to engage their customers beyond the menu:

  1. DISCOVERY: “I want my everyday life to be made more exciting and surprising. I delight in specialist and thoughtful details, and I’m a connoisseur of the coolest spots in town.”
  2. EXPERIENCE: “I’m less bothered about material things – I crave original, memorable, all-encompassing experiences that I can share with my friends and social network. More is more.”
  3. LIFESTYLE: “I want it all. One venue should fit seamlessly into my life and serve all my needs at once to keep me entertained. I’m busy and value the best of everything under one roof.”
  4. ESCAPISM: “I want to temporarily leave the real world behind. I want to be carefree and be indulged. I live for adventure, the unexpected, and the surreal.”

The Tour

The following nine bars, spaces and restaurants in Shoreditch capture these emerging trends. They offer great inspiration for future-facing brands looking to capture the market and immerse customers in memorable experiences.

  1. Tayēr + Elementary
  2. The Singer Tavern
  3. Platform
  4. Lounge Bohemia
  5. The Green Room
  6. Ninetyeight Bar
  7. Ballie Ballerson
  8. Tonight Josephine
  9. TT Liquor

1. Tayēr + Elementary

Cutting edge mixology made accessible in a steel-clad bar

Why it’s interesting

A minimalist bar and restaurant space targeting affluent diners, with pared-back design and flavour-forward cocktails. There’s no back bar; it’s a modernist kitchen, with clever pre-batch bottles, moveable hexagonal compartments and sleek steel finish. Founded by Alex Kratena (World’s Best Bar) and with Insta-viral food by katsu sandwich supremos TÁ TÁ Eatery, this venue is all about the extravagant understatement: No branding, no garish colours, the concept allows quality ingredients to shine.

What to order: Their daring take on a vodka and ‘Red Bull’ or their one-of-a-kind housemade Aquavit with Mexican mint and yellow Chartreuse.

Key consumer drivers: Discovery and Lifestyle

2. Singer Tavern

A mainstream pub does underground speak-easy with a flourish

Why it’s interesting

The Singer Tavern ticks all the trend-led boxes (cheese plants, a feature ceiling, craft beer) and yet it still feels original. A savvy dual approach makes it a successful day-to-night venue: Upstairs is a light and airy local boozer for the suits of Finsbury Circus, but downstairs is its dark and sultry sister bar. Run by 5cc cocktail bars, it appeals to consumers’ sense of curiosity with low lighting and no signage down the stairs, but it’s accessible and in a commercially astute location too.

What to order: Sample a grown-up bitter aperitivo from their fernet and amaro-inspired menu.

Key consumer drivers: Discovery and Experience

3. Platform

Making gaming less geeky with high-quality pizza and craft beers

Why it’s interesting

Gaming gets a bad rep for being anti-social, but Platform’s video game and e-sports bar and restaurant takes it out of the living room into a cool, social space. Happy Face make the pizza and the minimal but discerning drinks list elevates it further. It’s a grown-up concept for the competitive little kid in us all. Specifically for groups of friends and colleagues, Platform builds relationships through shared food and multi-player games; it is an IRL interface between virtual online gaming and the age-old equation of pizza + beer.

What to order: Specialist Mikkeller Danish beers, like the Sally Monroe Pale Ale.

Key consumer drivers: Experience and Escapism

4. Lounge Bohemia

Molecular cocktails and 70s nostalgia down a hidden staircase

Why it’s interesting

This appointment-only concept is what all speakeasies should be. Tucked behind an ATM on a busy street, Lounge Bohemia has no social media and a minimal website; this exclusivity only adds to the intrigue and draws consumers in. It appeals to visitors’ egos and sense of style. The 70s decor, table service and outlandish cocktails make it feel other worldly: there’s dry ice and plenty of panache.

What to order: ‘Naughty Childhood’ a tasting menu of six theatrical cocktails inspired by sweet treats.

Key consumer drivers: Discovery and Experience

5. The Green Room at The Curtain

Get a taste for the members-only lifestyle in a discreet New York-inspired bar

What it’s interesting

The Green Room is a gateway to The Curtain, Shoreditch’s next-gen member’s club and five-star hotel, as well as being a cool destination in its own right. With marble tables, green velvet seating and polished concrete floors, it’s not going to win on original decor but its exclusive aesthetic meets high-end consumers’ increasing desire to get away from the crowds and live like an A-lister (even if just for one night). Like hot-desk spaces opening up in this area, it’s a great example of a dual use venue that creates revenue day to night.

What to order: The Baby Grand. An indulgent, high-flying cocktail of white rum, tumeric honey and champagne

Key consumer drivers: Discovery and Lifestyle

6. Ninetyeight Bar

A one-of-a-kind tiki bar and underground venue

Why it’s interesting

Cathy has been hosting guests at her bar since before Shoreditch was cool, and it’s still the most original venue on Curtain Road. With an eclectic tiki bar, neon mannequins and a grand piano in a plant-filled atrium, it’s an Instagram sensation without trying too hard. Cocktails are imaginatively served in bespoke glassware with theatre and a sense of humour. Hidden down a spiral staircase and with a maze of rooms stretching to the back of the venue, Ninetyeight Bar appeals to revellers’ sense of discovery and brings in-the-know kudos and authentic kookiness that’s hard to imitate.

What to order: The Curtain Road. A punchy classic cocktail served like a chemistry set.

Key consumer drivers: Discovery and Escapism

7. Ballie Ballerson

A bar filled with balls. What’s not to love?

Why it’s interesting

Taking entertainment to the next level, Ballie Ballerson is the one and only ball pit bar in London. With over one million balls and an impressive cocktail list, this is a full body experience night out. It’s ticketed, and appeals to the generation who are prepared to plan ahead to have a good time. Ballie Ballerson taps into child-like nostalgia whilst still targeting first dates, a mates night out and anyone who wants ‘that’ picture of themselves surrounded by balls, balls, balls.

What to order: You’re A Wizard Harry: A magical smoking potion of rhubarb, rum and lime complete with a red diamond ice cube.

Key consumer drivers: Experience and Escapism

8. Tonight Josephine

Join the ultimate girl gang, and sip a cocktail whilst you’re at it

Why it’s interesting

The sister bar to Blame Gloria and Nikki’s, you could call this a new-feminist bar that targets 20-something women with its unapologetic ‘hot mess’ aesthetic. Only six-months old, Tonight Josephine is totally Insta-ready with kitschy cool bold prints and neon signage. When the drinking culture has historically been so squarely aimed at men, Tonight Josephine is refreshingly permissive, relevant and egalitarian. It’s a bar for people who know what they want, and how to get it.

What to order: A Flaming Zombie: Bacardi Negra Rum, pineapple juice, fire.

Key consumer drivers: Experience and Escapism

9. TT Liquor

A multi-use bar and cinema hidden behind a liquor store

Why it’s interesting

When you want to enjoy the whole night in one venue, TT Liquor is the place to go. It’s a warren of multi-use rooms, with a high-end liquor shop (incredible Vermouth, unusual gins etc), a boutique cinema, a hidden underground bar and a roof terrace – all built into an old police station. Diversification is key to TT Liquor’s success: Movie nights are themed with cocktails to add value to the drinking experience, and workshops in the ‘cocktail classroom’ reinforce their reputation as bartenders in the know

What to order: Figgie Smalls: a short and earthy cocktail of Bushmills, esprit de figues, supermalt and on-trend aquafaba.

Key consumer drivers: Lifestyle and Discovery

If you’re looking to engage your customers in a more creative way through PR, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us or check out our Food & Drink case studies.