Raising the bar: Five of the nation"s secret drinking dens uncovered

Raising the bar: Five of the nation's secret drinking dens uncovered

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UPDATED:

17:21 GMT, 15 November 2012

Like buried treasure, sometimes the best things in life are worth hunting for.

On a night out, who wants to be elbow-to-cheekbone with every other punter happy to settle for a sub-standard pinot grigio before shuffling onto the dancefloor to make shapes to tired pop

The after dark scene has, of late, evolved into something of an in-the-know, underground society.

But where are these secret bars And what should you order when you find them Let us guide you…

SHHH: The Zetter Townhouse

Feels like home: The Zetter Townhouse's decor aims to recreate the feeling of a living room - with a few quirky additions like stuffed kangaroos

Feels like home: The Zetter Townhouse's decor aims to recreate the feeling of a living room – with a few quirky additions like stuffed kangaroos

The Scoop:
Run by Tony Conigliaro, a barman whose animated eyebrows are as
bewitching as the creatively potent concoctions he mixes, the ZTH (as
it’s known to those in the know), feels like an opulent parlour from
1800.

There are stuffed critters everywhere (even a kangaroo and a cat in a dress), and its fictional owner, Wilhelmina, glares down at you from her portrait as you enter the establishment.

The Tipple: Master at Arms, named for the sailor who was responsible for managing navy rations. It has rum, which sailors drank, and port, which officers drank – so something for everyone.

Where: 49 St John’s Square, London, EC1V 4JJ; www.thezettertownhouse.com

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SHHH: The Nightjar

Nightjar's decor invokes the speak-easy of the 30s, while inviting illicit encounters with its dark corners

Nightjar's decor invokes the speak-easy of the 30s, while inviting illicit encounters with its dark corners

The Scoop: Like all good speakeasies, the Nightjar is anything but easy to find. But well-worth seeking out.

Mark's Bar is an all-zinc affair hidden under the restaurant

Mark's Bar is an all-zinc affair hidden under the restaurant

Put 129 City Road, London, into your
map app and look for a door between a caf and a kafeteria (yes, spelled
with a ‘k’).

Behind a foreboding doorman, there’s retro sounds and
occasional live jazz, illicit drinks and dark nooks for illicit
encounters.

The Tipple: The Aged Pina Colada – the kitsch classic made over thanks to resting for a few months in oak barrels.

Where: 129 City Road, London, EC1V 1JV; www.barnightjar.com

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SHHH: Mark’s Bar

The Scoop: Underneath Mark Hix’s fish restaurant on Brewer Street in Soho is a dark drinking den with a zinc bar and zinc ceilings, Chesterfield chairs and a cocktail list inspired by history’s best beverages. There’s artwork by Tracey Emin in the loos.

The Tipple: Criterion Milk Punch – rum and cognac, infused with pineapple, citrus, spice and milk, then clarified and bottled.

Where: 66-70 Brewer Street, London, W1F 9UP; www.marksbar.co.uk

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SHHH: Pepper

Old style meets new elegance in Edinburgh's Pepper, where the Martini's are renowned by those in-the-know

Old style meets new elegance in Edinburgh's Pepper, where the Martini's are renowned by those in-the-know

The Scoop:
Under the ancient streets of Edinburgh is a cocktail bar that puts
modern twists on the classics. Beneath Steak restaurant, Jason Wright’s
team serves show-stealing drinks to the city’s suave set.

The Tipple: Martinis are the speciality here. Let the knowledgeable team direct your choice and discover something new.

Where: 14 Picardy Place, Edinburgh, EH1 3JT; www.steakedinburgh.com/pepper

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SHHH: Hausbar

The Scoop: Dark, seductive and sexy… Not what you might expect to find underneath the Rajpoot Indian restaurant in Bristol’s cool Clifton neighbourhood, but that’s precisely what Hausbar is.

Hausbar is seductive and sexy- despite it's unusual location

Hausbar is seductive and sexy- despite it's unusual location

Aurelius Barunbarth earned his stripes at some of Berlin and Munich’s best bars before bringing a touch of grown-up prewar glamour to the Bristol scene.

The Tipple: El Presidente – the best you’ll ever taste.

Where: 52 Upper Belgrave Road, Bristol, BS8 2 XP; www.hausbar.co.uk