Welcome to our Best Bars series, seeking out the finest drinking establishments across all of London.
There’s nothing more luxurious than a glass of fizz or three, but for most of us our bank balances aren’t quite so keen on regular Champagne socialising. While it’s never going to be the cheapest pastime, affordable fizz is out there. Next time you get the craving, avoid high-end hotels and swanky station spots and try a few of these bars that offer cannily chosen fizz at much more palatable prices.
Unless otherwise stated, glass prices mentioned below refer to 125ml serves.
There’s around 30 bottles of fizz on offer at this Parson’s Green bar, the vast majority of which are Champagne. If you can handle the predominance of yummy mummies, you’ll find a light, bright bar with a lovely plant-filled outdoor space. Bucking the trend in the area, it’s pretty good value, too. Lay off the £450 magnum of Dom Perignon 2002 and stick to a Champagne-esque French sparkling for £26 or beginning-of-the-list Champagnes at a little over £30 and you’re laughing.
Cheapest glass: £7. Cheapest bottle: £26.
As the name suggests, this subterranean bar beneath Camino restaurant in Blackfriars leaves Champagne out altogether in favour of the other big ‘C’ of the fizz world. Made in largely the same way as Prosecco and using a method not at all dissimilar to Champagne, this popular Spanish wine is still underrated in the UK. And that’s great, as it means there are bargains to be had. Bottles here start at £25 and only slowly rise, with most hovering somewhere in the low to mid-30s. Even at the bottom level there’s a choice of styles including brut (dry), semi seco (slightly sweeter) and rosat (rosé). It’s a specialist spot, so there are more expensive drinks to be had if you’re in the mood, and at around £40 you’re getting the kind of quality that could easily set you back more than double this if it were real Champers. Food comes in the form of hams, cheeses and tapas from the adjoining restaurant, or you could go for a whole Cava and tapas tasting menu for £45 a person — not bad considering it includes eight (small) glasses of fizz.
Cheapest glass: £5. Cheapest bottle: £25.
This hip Shoreditch pub has a short but surprisingly savvy fizz selection, including the pièce-de-résistance of Prosecco on tap. It may sound strange, but it’s taking off in forward-thinking bars around town and something we reckon we’ll all be drinking a lot more of by the time the year is out. There’s obvious savings to be had in not producing or transporting bottles, and it’s largely for this reason that a glass is just £4.50. The same stuff is available at £29 a bottle, while top English fizz from Chapel Down is a very reasonable £35.
Cheapest glass: £4.50. Cheapest bottle: £29.
Branches of this Spanish mini-chain in Marylebone, Farringdon and Canary Wharf all come with well-stocked bars featuring nine different styles of Cava. Bottle prices start at £25 with five under the £30 mark, while glasses start at £6. Selections of ham, cheese and other classic and creative takes on tapas are also well-priced.
Cheapest glass: £6. Cheapest bottle: £25.
This hip Hackney wine bar has done more than its fair share of leg work in helping make wine cool in the capital, and part of what’s done it (tattooed staff aside) is its low mark-up. The menu changes daily, so it’s hard to be sure what will be available on any given visit, but there’s almost always a few bottles of decently priced fizz on offer. If there’s nothing that catches your eye on the menu, try asking them — there’s usually something they can find. Good value doesn’t always equal affordable, though, so if you’re planning an evening on the fizz you may want to phone ahead to check. Its list currently includes a few vintage Cavas between £36 and £40 and an English sparkling for £47.
Cheapest glass: £7. Cheapest bottle: £36.
Serving Soho glasses of fizz for over 35 years, this institution of a wine bar knows what it’s doing and just keeps doing it. A combination of affordability and variety is key, with Prosecco for under £30 and Australian, Californian and English options (including rosé) firmly under £40. Food is simple British-meets-French fare that is nothing to rave about, but still it manages to hit the spot admirably and cheaply at £11.50 for sausage and mash or the likes. As for pairing Champagne with gravy, we’re not so sure.
Cheapest glass: £5.75. Cheapest bottle: £27.50.
There are now four of these bustling and unpretentious wine bars around London, in Farringdon, Soho, Marylebone and Chiswick. Choice is its real strength, with a wine list that stretches to more than 285 bottles. Among them are a few Proseccos not far off the £25 mark, and a couple of Cavas for just slightly more. If you’re willing to progress in price, there’s also decent value to be had in a good few Champagnes for little over £40. The food offering is another reason to visit: modern, gutsy British food of the sort you’d find in a gastropub is treated as carefully as the wine selection. By-the-glass options and prices vary by the day and by branch, but don’t deviate too much from around £6 for a vintage Cava or Prosecco rising to closer to a tenner for Champagne.
Cheapest glass: £6.50. Cheapest bottle: £24.50.
8 Hoxton Square: This Eastern spin-off of Soho’s 10 Greek Street serves glasses of Prosecco for £3.50 and bottles for £21. A glass of English sparkling comes in at £6.
Albertine: This longstanding Shepherd’s Bush favourite is full of the friendly old-school charm that will make you want to linger. Thankfully, there’s some affordable drinking options for when you do. Prosecco comes in at £27.70, while a bottle of French Cremant de Loire that’s Champagne in everything but official origin is a bargain at £30.50.
Ben’s Canteen: This relaxed all-day Battersea bar and restaurant (which does a bloody good burger, by the way) serves glasses of Cava for £5 a pop during brunch times, from 10am-5pm Saturday and Sundays.
Boqueria: This tapas bar set on Acre Lane midway between Clapham and Brixton serves six types of Cava at the bar, with the most expensive reaching £38. At the other end, you can get a glass for £5 and a bottle for £21.
The Dissenting Academy: This comfy pub in Newington Green serves large 250ml glasses of Prosecco for £3.75.
Mele e Pere: An unlikely drinking spot given it’s a fully-fledged Italian restaurant, but the bar area here is a calm retreat from heaving Soho, and snacks such as deep-fried, chilli-stuffed olives are bar food on a level that few bars can muster. Its affordable fizz offering is centred around glasses of £4 Prosecco on-tap.