You know what the best nights really need? It’s not thumping music and frenetic energy. It’s not massive venues full of people jostling each other and spilling drinks as they exclaim ‘BEST NIGHT OF MY LIFE.’ No, we’re getting too old for that. The best nights are spent in cosy surroundings, with delicious drinks, and touches of luxury. And for that I highly recommend a night at Scarfe’s – the legendary Central London cocktail bar, “where paintings and potions meet.”
So, what makes Scarfe’s so cosy? It could be the plush armchairs and sofas, basically begging you to sink in and struggle to keep your eyes open. It could also be the warm touches throughout, with velvet and wood breaking up the doodle-clad marble walls. But, I reckon it’s the books and the roaring fire. They count over 1,000 antique books hand-picked by a Portobello antiques dealer amongst their collection. And they sure do make the place gorgeous.
Don’t for a second think this is some stuffy affair, however, as it’s a spirited, tongue-in-cheek watering hole where staff welcome you with knowledge, passion, and a hefty dose of fun. Music, illustration, and literature pervade every detail, with humour and joy the constant through-line. Adding to the convivial atmosphere is the complimentary live music each night, which keeps the ambience spirited, but also wonderfully cosy.
Oh, and I can’t neglect to mention the doodles can I? Gerald Scarfe’s artwork adorns the marble surfaces throughout the bar – “transforming [the] bar into a living canvas.” His work encompasses the full spectrum of popular culture, from fictional characters such as Walt Disney’s Hercules, to living legends like Elton John, David Attenborough, and beyond. His cartoons have also been printed in The Sunday Times and The New Yorker. Let me tell you this: if you think you don’t know Scarfe’s work, you’ll recognise his unique style as soon as you step foot in the bar!
Gerald Scarfe himself describes the bar as “my personal art gallery, where you can see my life on these walls”.
The drinks at Scarfe’s
The menu at Scarfe’s bar takes the artwork off the walls and on to your tables. Cocktail names draw inspiration from contemporary events and pop culture figures. Among them are the Mai Tai-riffing My Tie, with Appleton 12, Amàrico, Mango and Espelette Pepper, and Clarified Almond, and the Beatles-referencing Let It Bee with Bruichladdich, Italicus, Bee Pollen, and Acorn and Pineapple Soda.
You know you’re in good hands, too, because their Arturo Burzio was recently crowned the ‘elit Vodka Martini Master 2022’. I’ll start with a vodka martini in that case!
The bar has also in the past received such awards as ‘Best International Hotel Bar‘ from the Spirited Awards, Tales of the Cocktail 2020. They also consistently achieve high-ranking spots in lists of top bars nationally and around the world. They probably know what they’re doing then, I reckon.
The rest of the menu
The cocktail selection at Scarfe’s is further complemented by an exhausting list exhaustive list of spirits, wines, liqueurs, non-alcoholic drinks and cocktails, beers, and more. Oh, and cigars, and gifts as well – obviously!
To accompany all that, they also serve a selection of bar snacks and tasty treats. These include Potato Mille-feuille & Caviar Imperial, Wild boar & Black Pudding Scotch Egg, Buttermilk Fried Chicken, and plenty more.
But! Scarfe’s is also hard at work on an all new menu, celebrating ten years of Scarfe’s Bar. Which of Scarfe’s’ works will find their way on to the menu? Which house-favourite cocktails will stick around? And what will be the guiding theme to it all? There’s only one way to find out:
Head on down, sink back in an armchair, drink in the surroundings (and a cocktail or two), and ‘get scarfed’!