The Goblet isn’t in the habit of packing a swimsuit to go bar-hopping, which proved a bit of a mistake on a recent visit to Gŏng, the bar at the top of The Shard’s Shangri-La Hotel. Not only is this the highest bar in London – it’s home to the city’s loftiest pool too. As it was, The Goblet had to make do with watching a couple disport themselves against the skyline before heading next door for the main event of the evening: a guest appearance by The Clumsies of Athens.
They may sound like a touring circus act, but The Clumsies are currently one of the world’s most in-demand bar teams – in 2016 they organised pop-ups, guest appearances and bar takeovers in nearly 40 cities. Famed for convivial service and flavours informed by their Greek heritage (think gin, mint and tomato), this likeable duo are at the forefront of a new bar scene without borders, one that’s making it possible to sample the work of award‑winning mixologists across the globe, without even leaving London.
Last year, Gŏng hosted a much Instagrammed pop-up by Joerg Meyer, bartender of the acclaimed Le Lion bar in Hamburg; next month, it will be the turn of Steve Schneider to bring some stateside glamour to the place with a specially created list of cocktails referencing his New York speakeasy, Employees Only.
Another London address that’s recently played host to the cream of the international drinks scene is the bar at The Bloomsbury hotel. In February it had a three-day visitation by New York’s BlackTail, which transformed the deco-style bar into a Prohibition-era Havana drinking den serving rum cocktails. On May 24, the bar was turned over to Sydney’s hip The Baxter Inn – expect a cocktail menu big on whisky with (fingers crossed) their signature Old Fashioned on tap.
The Zetter Townhouse in Clerkenwell is at it too – following a successful bar swap with Bar Trench in Tokyo in 2016, it is now planning a collaboration with Verona’s underground hit The Soda Jerk, for later this year.
In August, two superpowers of mixology are set to come together when Claridge’s Bar hosts a ten-day residency by New York’s The Dead Rabbit, current holders of the top spot in the World’s 50 Best Bars. The two could hardly be more different – one is a five-star-hotel bar in Mayfair, the other a self-styled “Irish taproom” from downtown Manhattan. But it’s that culture clash that’s set to make it exciting. Put a date in your diary now (and just to be on the safe side, bring your swimsuit).