The Best Cocktail Bars In The UK

Thirsty? Drinks maestro Ryan Chetiyawardana has nailed down his selection of the best cocktail bars in the UK.
The Best Bars In The UK
Seed Library is one of the best cocktail bars in the UK. Photography: Caitlin Isola.

My name is Ryan Chetiyawardana but given the difficulty of my surname, I tend to tie all our projects together under the Mr Lyan moniker – a childhood nickname that we've used as a link to the various threads to the company. I've been working in food and drink for over 20 years, and after working through a variety of venues, I started the Mr Lyan company with my sisters to explore how we could innovate within the industry, push the boundaries of where food and drink can operate, and collaborate with various pioneers or creatives.

This is reflected in the work we do in our bars; currently, we have Lyaness and Seed Library in London, Silver Lyan in Washington DC and Super Lyan in Amsterdam, along with Mr Lyan Studio in London, some books, products and a MasterClass series. In all of these spaces, we try and see where we can work with like-minded partners – everything from food scientists in Lyaness, local growers in Amsterdam and DC or music and food partners in Seed Library. We are just about to launch our latest food collab in Seed Library with Ruben of Ruben's Ruebens bringing his smoked wares to the kitchen!

The Best Cocktail Bars In The UK

Bramble Bar, Edinburgh

I'm certainly biased about Bramble Bar as it was so instrumental to my career, but it remains a home away from home whenever I'm back in Edinburgh (my adopted home!). A focus on more than just great cocktails – a balance of warm hospitality, a cosy space and a great upbeat vibe from their amazing music policy has meant that it's always been a global benchmark for what a great bar should be about. As an extra bonus, sister bar Lucky Liquor and pals Bon Vivant as well as a string of great restaurants, are neighbours.

16A Queen Street, Edinburgh, EH2 1JE

Schofield's Bar, Manchester

A considered focus on classics, but with a real sense of playing to the local character (the brothers are native to the city) means Schofield's is not just a great showcase for Manchester and brilliant cocktails, but a demonstration of how there are so many wonderful choices outside capital cities. Plus, being able to order a Guinness alongside a great cocktail is always going to win me over!

3 Little Quay Street Sunlight House, Manchester, M3 3JZ

Milroy's of Soho, London

There are a few bars that manage to balance two styles of character in an awesome way (see Tayer & Elementary's balance of casual drinks in the front and more experimental in the back), and Milroy's in Soho manages to bring the magic of the whisky shop to the front with a bar to enjoy drams or highballs, but has a secret little cocktail bar down the stairs to the back. Of course, they have a focus on great whisky cocktails, but it's a super cute date spot regardless! It's also a wonderful retreat from the noise of Soho.

3 Greek Street, London, W1D 4NX

The Pot Still, Glasgow

Big Frank and team, a Glasgow boozer, and one of the best whisky selections around means The Pot Still is worth a pilgrimage whenever you're in the vicinity. Great hospitality, killer drinks, an unpretentious vibe and a pitch-perfect snack selection make it a perfect vision of a bar.

154 Hope Street, Glasgow, G2 2TH

Connaught Bar, London

The UK does hotel bars better than anywhere in the world, and London covers many of the archetype examples (see Dukes, Claridge's and the Savoy for more), but the Connaught Bar manages to blend that particular mix of five-star service, glamorous setting and luxe detailing in an amazing way. They also don't sit still too, so whilst the Martini trolley remains a fave, there are so many other touch points worth exploring.

The Connaught, 16 Carlos Place, London, W1K 2AL

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