Where to Drink Vino in the Big Smoke
I believe it is essential to acknowledge the importance of fierce devotion to drinking less, whilst simultaneously retaining scepticism about the hard reality of successfully committing to it. I have never been one to go cold turkey with attempting to improve any aspect of my life, and I am not about to start with dry January. Over lockdown though, grabbing a chilled bottle of Albariño from the fridge and pouring myself a glass after a stressful day had become mind-numbingly habitual, without even realising it. And during that point in my life, every day was a stressful one.
When I think about the most healthy lifestyle habits I’ve adopted over the last year and the most enjoyable, the crossover area in the Venn diagram with alcohol is fairly small. So whilst I’ve reduced the amount of alcohol I’ve been consuming, I’ve also concluded that living without enjoying a nice Barolo with your steak, or a Negroni night-cap is just not really living at all. So I asked myself, "just because we can, do we really think we should?".
Mindful drinking is certainly important, but all should be had in moderation – not forbidden completely. As such, I’ve since given up going dry – and natty vino is my latest obsession. If I can’t be the epitome of health, making a planet-friendly swap to organic wine on occasion has proved to be the next best option. Organic wine is produced using only certified organic grapes grown without chemical fertilisers and pesticides, making the wine better for the environment, and you. So here are some of my top spots to enjoy both the organic and usual suspects in London town.
For those after some natty wines with great eats on the side – and an option that won’t break the bank
This is by far my favourite wine spot currently; a fusion between a wine bar, incubator kitchen and trendy date night spot – all located below The Hoxton Holborn. With fun events such as orange wine Wednesdays, Rondo La Cave hosts a space where ideas are born and then rolled out permanently to other Hoxton properties around Europe. The food changes on a tri-monthly basis, so get there quick – but it leaves you wanting to keep returning for the new menus. Currently, Detroit-style pizza ‘Four Corners’ is helming the space under the watch of Anthony Falco. You don’t want to miss this. Rondo, The Hoxton, Holborn, 199-206 High Holborn, London, WC1V 7BD, +44 20 7661 3030
For those looking to try something new, or for some stellar wines from people that really know their stuff
If you’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting Noble Rot’s original Bloomsbury location, you’ll discover that these are people who do things correctly. Ask any Londoner what their favourite wine bar is – and Noble Rot will most definitely roll off anyone’s tongue. They serve modern European food with a clever, considered wine list. I’ve been a religious follower of Dan Keeling and Mark Andrew, the brainchildren of Noble Rot, Noble Rot magazine and Keeling Andrew & Co wine importers. This is a must when visiting town, and if you live here, it’ll soon become your regular haunt. Noble Rot, 51 Lamb's Conduit St, London WC1N 3NB, +44 20 7242 8963
Probably the restaurant chain you’ll find me at weekly – if I’m not at the aforementioned …
Cecconi’s is a destination for everyone; a modern-day classic Italian restaurant open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s not pretentious, it’s no-fuss, and I love it to bits. For someone with an endless bucket list of restaurants in a city that has new openings every other second, having a regular haunt is extremely grounding. With four locations (each with distinctively different vibes), Cecconi’s caters to every type of outing – with the underlying Soho House service which everyone has a love-hate relationship with. Enjoy an array of fabulous Italian wines, alongside your classic cocktails and beers. If you’re after something a little stronger, all branches make a wicked Negroni – thank me later. Cecconi's, multiple locations
If you’re looking for a casual eatery with Natural wine and modern small plates
Elliott’s is a sensational little slice of Borough Market, sandwiched between BAO and The Wright Brothers. The first two times I visited were unintentional; I coincidentally got stuck when it was pouring, and I ended up stopping for 4 hours both times. No regrets, obviously. Natural wine, modern small plates & wood-fired pizza are the draws at this trendy farm-to-table eatery, and they offer nearly all of my favourite bottles by the glass. Elliot's Borough Market, 12 Stoney Street, London SE1 9AD, +44 20 7403 7436
Images courtesy of Eva Piskadlo
For those with a penchant for good, honest cooking with a side of funky wine
Iconically housed in Lipton’s former factory, Lyle’s really needs no introduction. With a modern British menu, simplistic setting at an affordable price, Lyle’s has been voted one of the World’s Best Restaurants. This stylish Shoreditch spot serves honest cooking with a great wine list to boot – including both biodynamic and regular wines. Lyle's, Tea Building, 56 Shoreditch High Street, London E1 6JJ, +44 20 3011 5911
Perfect for date night – great food and fabulous wine selection
This classic Londoner favourite supports local artisan farmers and serves up prix-fixe menus, based on what’s freshest. This is the wine bar of your dreams, with fabulous cuvéesm, cocktails, small plates, DJ-ing until 1:00am in the morning, you name it. Check out the downstairs area too whilst you’re at it, you’re in for a treat. The Laughing Heart, 277 Hackney Road, London E2 8NA, +44 20 7686 9535
Images courtesy of Eva Piskadlo
Late summer evenings and wintery early ones are best spent inside or on Milk Beach’s winter terrace
In my humble opinion, Milk Beach is quite possibly the most underrated place in London. But in all ways, it is refreshing that one of my favourite wine bars in London is lesser known, as it remains a secret spot for me (and now you, dear reader!). This idyllic little Australian eatery serves up killer brunch and lunch during the day, transforming into a quaint dinner spot with an organic wine list to boot. They also have wine tasting evenings – none of which I haven’t managed to go along to yet – but I will! Milk Beach, 19-21 Lonsdale Road, London NW6 6RA, +44 20 8144 8277