Lonely Planet Writer

How to land yourself a seat in London’s smallest bar

London’s hugeness is one of the more inescapable observations you’ll have if visiting for the first time, but the capital of the UK is, like anywhere else, a sum of its parts. Some of these parts are big and bold, like Westminster Abbey and Canary Wharf, but others are so charmingly diminutive you might just miss them entirely if you don’t look carefully in precisely the right place.

The Brig at the Merchant House. Image by Merchant House

The Brig is one such place, proudly claiming (and we’ve no reason to dispute the claim) to be London’s smallest bar. Occupying a suitably tiny space off an alleyway so narrow you’d be advised to exhale before proceeding along it, the miniature drinking den, whose ceiling and bar are made from old whisky casks, has room for just four guests. And one bartender.

For understandably practical reasons, advanced booking is required, for one-hour time slots at £50 per person. Once confirmed, you’ll receive a 4-digit code to gain access, making it less of a speakeasy and more of a key-in-your-pin-to-enter-easy (which admittedly doesn’t have quite the same ring). Still, in a time when the word ‘secret’ is too often used to describe bars in London which are about as clandestine as the Shard, the Brig is satisfyingly enigmatic – the aforementioned code is essential for access, and the door is completely unmarked and unbranded.

This is arguably the most bespoke drinking experience you can have in the city. You can preselect a music playlist, and advise of your favourite cocktails, which your unshakeably monogamous bartender will whip up as quickly as you can guzzle them. The Brig has been created by its parent bar, Merchant House, just next door, which is perfect for some after-drinks drinks if you’re inspired to keep going.

You can find Merchant House on Well Court, EC4, and specific directions to the door of the Brig will be given upon booking. For other tiny drinking holes, check out The Rake in Borough Market, or The Dove in Hammersmith.

By Will Jones