Five of the Best: British Martini Bars

Toast the latest Bond film in style at our pick of the best places in the UK for the perfect martini, shaken or stirred

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Dukes Bar, Dukes hotel, London

If you downed as many vodka martinis as Dukes has awards for mixing them, you’d be out - permanently. The legendary, long-since retired Gilberto Preti, designed the perfect martini at this clubby old school bar, tucked away in a quiet corner of St.James. Mixed at your table, using iced glasses, with just tiniest splash of vermouth, and filled with Tanqueray, with a twist of lemon slipped gracefully below the surface. Jackets and staying power required. Martinis from £15.

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Address: Dukes Hotel, St.James’s Place, London, SW1A 1NY 0207 491 4840 dukeshotel.com

The Milk Thistle, Bristol

Just one year old, The Milk Thistle is already established as the west country’s premier cocktail speakeasy. With four floors of dark wood Gothic Victorian decor, with stained glass windows, heavy oak architraves, and lit with candles, it is slap bang in the city centre, a short stroll from the docks. The downstairs Parlour Bar, popular with an in-the-know crowd, oozes raffish elegance. Martins from £9.

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Address: The Milk Thistle, Quay Head House, Colston Avenue, Bristol, BS1 1EB 0117 929 4429 milkthistlebristol.com

Peacock Alley, Edinburgh

It’s all in the name. In the shadow of the castle this grand old hotel - recently rebranded a Waldorf Astoria following a £24 million refit - is the place to strut your stuff. Every Waldorf Astoria’s has had a Peacock Alley since the first one opened in New York, in 1931, and the latest doesn’t disappoint. A grand, dressy, opulent stage for people who enjoy their cocktails - prepared at the table by a ‘mixologist’ - as much as they enjoy being seen. Martinis £8.50.

Address: Peacock Alley, Caledonian Hotel, Princes Street, Edinburgh, EH1 2AB 0131 222 8888 waldorfastoria3.hilton.com

Koba, Brighton

There is something intoxicating about the purple velvet and slate walls of this intimate first floor bar at night, one block back from the seafront, close to Brighton’s West Pier. By day, a happening restaurant and cafe downstairs, by night it’s a glitzy, and well dressed hang -out for the city’s fashion folk. Martinis - including the signature drink Turkish Delightini, served with a slice of Turkish Delight - from £7.

Address: Koba, 135 Western Road, Brighton, BN1 2LA 01273 720059 kobauk.com

Corridor, Salford

Manchester keeps getting hipper, and this modern bar that opened four years ago in a former textiles warehouse has played a big part and garnered numerous awards in the process. Just behind Salford’s Lowry Hotel, it is down a narrow street, and still relatively unknown. The soundtrack is jazz funk and 80s soul, and the style minimalist. Martinis £7.

Address: Corridor, 6 Barlow’s Croft, Salford, M3 5DY 0161 832 6699 corridorbar.co.uk

If you're looking for some of the best in our capital, check out our top cocktail bars in London

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