The most exciting new bars to visit in December 2023

From an izakaya in Mayfair and an Italian-villa-inspired bar in New York to a library of Cantonese spirits in Hong Kong, these are the best new bars to visit this month

Words by Club Oenologique Editors

New bars December lead

December is generally a busy month, full of Christmas parties and festive drinks. There are plenty of bars opening around the world too, with owners hoping to take advantage of the bustling social scene that develops as work winds down and the holiday approaches.

In London, KOYN welcomes world-leading bartenders from Milan, while over in Hong Kong, a new bar aims to showcase the best Cantonese spirits with its cocktail list. There are dozens of whiskies to be sampled or mixed at Clare Smyth’s Whisky & Seaweed and The Portrait Bar is a luxurious drinking destination in New York’s new Fifth Avenue Hotel.

Read on to discover the most exciting new bars to visit this month.

The best new bars to visit in December 2023

Whisky & Seaweed

London, UK

At Whisky & Seaweed, the cocktail bar attached to three-Michelin star restaurant Core by Clare Smyth, whisky lovers can sip to their hearts’ content. Whether it’s the bar’s signature cocktail, a kelp-infused Whisky Sour, or one of the dozens of world whiskies on the back bar, the focus is clear. Its collection of whiskies covers dozens of Scotches, plus English, Welsh and Irish whiskies, not to mention Japan – and even a couple of Aussie tipples. And as part of Smyth’s Core restaurant, there’s a noteworthy bar menu that includes the restaurant’s much-loved ‘Potato & Roe’.
Open now, corebyclaresmyth.com


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Atelier Coupette

London, UK

Bethnal Green’s Coupette has leapt feet first into Soho with a food, wine and cocktail bar worth making a date for. Skip back to summer with a Truffle Negroni or Spiced Melon Margarita, or embrace the winter with a Smoked Artichoke Manhattan or a miso-washed cherry ice cream float. Coupette’s also a marvellous place for a Calvados – another must-have winter-warmer – and with a dozen behind the bar you’re bound to find one you like.
Open now, coupette.co.uk


Hong Kong

For anyone tempted by a ‘cocktail omakase’, Kinsman is for you. This new Peel Street bar specialises in Cantonese spirits such as moutai, a style of baiju, and Magnolia Lab’s amaro-like botanical infusions. Lesser-known liquors are shaken and stirred into shapes most would recognise – the Espresso Martini, for one – so that drinkers get an education as well as a stylish serve.
Open now, book.bistrochat.com/kinsman


London, UK

KOYN’s izakaya bar serves Japanese twists on everything: from classics like a Midori Margarita and a Yuzu Sake Cosmo to a Hibiscus Negroni and a Smoked Sazerac. Fortnightly residencies keep the bar fresh and created extra interest. On 13 December, Tomasso Cecca from Milan’s Camparino in Galleria will appear as KOYN’s next bar residency, serving aperitivi per tutti from behind the bar.
Open now, koynrestaurants.com

Portrait Bar
(Photo: The Portrait Bar)

The Portrait Bar

New York, US

Now open in The Fifth Avenue Hotel in Manhattan, The Portrait Bar is an old-school, wood-panelled bar inspired by the interiors of Italian villas. Industry veteran Darryl Chan is the bar director, overseeing a list of modern and classic cocktails intended to evoke a sense of place. Choices include a clarified cocktail in the form of the Cebu Island – ‘a modern take on beautiful day at the beach’ – and the Torino, a highball dedicated to Italian aperitivo culture. Snacks are served alongside the drinks and the comté gougères will be hard to resist. If you’re feeling flush, which is likely if you’re staying in the hotel, you can even treat yourself to royal ossetra caviar while admiring the art collection covering the walls of this plush, cosy bar.
Open now, theportraitbar.com

The Royal Cocktail Exchange

London, UK

Two floors of cocktail bar on Windmill Street bring more good drinking to the heart of London. The Royal Cocktail Exchange comes from the brains of the people behind Cocktail Trading Co, and the vibe is fun and inclusive. Sweet twists like a ‘muffin syrup’ for their Whiskey Sour and strawberry sherbert for a Gin Fizz will appeal to casual drinkers as well as connoisseurs.
Open now, royalcocktailexchange.com


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La Suite Bar & Lounge

Hong Kong

La Suite is the bar attached to the contemporary French restaurant Clarence on the 25th floor of H Code in Hong Kong’s Central District. What was a wine bar has been transformed into a speakeasy-style cocktail den with an intimate balcony area offering views of the city skyline. Expect cocktails with French influences, including The Saffron Negroni and ‘Le Smoking’ Old Fashioned.
Open now, clarencehk.com


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Little Lines

London, UK

Round off an afternoon’s Christmas shopping with a visit to Black Lines’ new bar. Housed in Rixo’s store on the King’s Road, this round, palm-bedecked bar will transport you away from the dark, cold streets. The menu shows off Black Lines’ own pre-mixed drinks, just in time for Christmas – so if you’re searching for a stocking filler, it’s a good time to sample their Spicy Margarita, Negroni and their seasonal special ‘Oat Nog’.
Open now, blacklinesdrinks.com