9 of London’s Best Natural Wine Bars
Over the last decade, London has become one of the best cities in the world for natural wine bars. One could easily fill out a list of places in east London alone, but we’re going to focus on the most significant bars across town, from places that paved the way to those currently setting the pace.
For the purposes of this article, a natural wine bar is defined as a bar or restaurant where one can consume natural wine (wines made with minimal intervention, low sulphur and usually organic or biodynamic methods) in a convivial environment without having to purchase food. Restaurants without a separate bar area or one where it’s simply a holding pen for guests while tables are turned are not included.
Formerly called Plateau, this ground floor bar just off Carnaby street has been a bastion of French wine for almost as long as we can remember (a good decade). You’ll find a long bar, a thick leather wine list and a constantly changing by-the-glass selection, including daily specials on the chalkboard.
We’ve got fond memories of finding four different wines from leading South African natural wine producer Craig Hawkins when we popped in one summer afternoon… we then spent a good few hours working our way through them. Currently, they’ve got the amazing Roditis from Ktima Ligas on the list, one of our favourite Greek winemakers.
The best spot for drinking here is outside on the pedestrianised pavement area – great for people watching if the weather is on your side.
Antidote, 12A Newburgh Street, W1F 7RR
40 Maltby Street
40 Maltby Street (actually at 37 Maltby Street) is always heaving on a Saturday morning when the nearby market is in full swing. There’s an excellent food menu which boasts, hands down, the best example of English-style ham (served with nose-ripping mustard) in London.
The wine list is also excellent, which one would expect given that they’re the front for natural wine importers Gergovie wines. It’s a small space, though, so be prepared to wait for a spot at one of the high tables. It’s also not the most comfortable, truth be told but the place has something of a cult status among London’s wine drinking community and we guarantee you’ll fall in love with its rough and ready setup like everyone else.
40 Maltby Street, 37 Maltby Street, SE1 3PA
The Remedy is on the north side of Fitzrovia, right where things start to get a bit desperate if you’re after something decent to eat or drink. It’s quite the saviour, then, and you can drink like a king (or more specifically a 17th Century merchant) without even leaving their Madeira list.
Beyond that magnificent fortified selection, they also have a superb grower Champagne list and it’s pretty inside, with bare brick walls and chalkboards – classic wine bar decor.
The Remedy, 124 Cleveland Street, W1T 6PG
The Winemakers Club
Nestled beneath the arches on Farringdon Street, John Baum (and his adorable dog Galahad) took over this cavernous old Oddbins site a few years back and haven’t looked back. Winemakers has many faces; a wine bar, importer and wine shop (and if you hit up their Deptford satellite, an excellent restaurant).
We love the wines of inimitable character that they import from Hungary from Judit Bott, Pelle Pince and Meinklang – easily on our list of top Hungarian producers.
The Winemakers Club, 41a Farringdon Street, EC4A 4AN
Borough Market may be super busy most of the time but there is always Elliot’s as a refuge. Applying an Antipodean sensibility to the wealth of produce the market is offering, the kitchen quickly acquired a decent reputation. They’ve also been running their exclusively natural wine list for a good few years, however, and that’s the main reason we love them.
We suggest you check out the amphora wines from Bodega de la Estrellas. Amphoras are large, teardrop-shaped clay pots that were buried in the ground by ancient winemakers, and are still used by natural producers today.
Elliot’s Cafe, 12 Stoney Street, SE1 9AD
P Franco single-handedly turned Lower Clapton Road into a natural wine destination. They’ve also managed to pass off a couple of induction hobs as a ‘kitchen’ that attracts a constantly changing roster of guest chefs and earned them a reputation as one of the more exciting restaurants in London. This, with fewer facilities than we had in our student flat.
The place is stacked with fantastic bottles from floor to ceiling and it’s close to the perfect natural wine bar. Last time we were in they had almost every single wine from our favourite Australian producer, James Erskine (Jauma). He makes fantastic Grenache – all purple, juicy, herbal-bramble fruit.
P Franco, 107 Lower Clapton Road, E5 0NP
The Laughing Heart
This is the new kid on the block yet possibly the most serious. Their list is a gigantic tome packed with juicy back vintages of all the top names and cult producers. We suggest you try the Werlitsch, an Austrian producer famed for his weissburgunder (pinot blanc) wines, which are rich and creamy yet mineral and complex.
If you want to eat, Chef Tom Anglesea is bossing it with a daily changing modern British menu. Think iconic Parisian wine bar and restaurant Septime but in London and with a better wine list.
The Laughing Heart, 277 Hackney Road, E2 8NA
161 Food and Drink
Kicking it out in the sticks (well Sydenham Hill) is 161 Food and Drink (know as 161 Kirkdale), again an importer-led affair. Alex and Belinda have a great line in genuinely affordable (not all that common in the natural wine world) small grower French natural gear. Also, their cakes rock.
161 Food and Drink, 161 Kirkdale, SE26 4QJ
Cellar SW4 maintains just about the most exciting Australian and South African natural wine list in London. Keep an eye on their social feeds for news of regular winemaker takeovers, when they basically hand the keys over to whomever they like and leave them to show off their stuff.
Once you’re done soaking in fantastic wine you can get busy soaking it up with one of their cracking toasties. We recommend the French onion soup version.
Cellar SW4, 1 Voltaire Road, SW4 6DQ
Featured image: The Remedy