‘Tis the season for long-awaited catch-ups with pals, and why not push the boat out by heading somewhere a bit fancy?
After all, you’ve probably been planning this in the group chat since June.
So why not treat your friends to Manhattans at a Brummie restaurant known for its New York charm, or spend the evening at a star-studded spot in Piccadilly.
Here are some of the best cocktail bars and restaurants around the UK from St Andrews in Scotland to London’s Mayfair.
MiMi Mei Fair, Mayfair
Let yourself be transported to 1920s Shanghai at this beautiful Georgian townhouse. Think colourful, hand-painted chinoiserie wallpaper and lacquered red cabinets and booths.
The food is just as fancy — crispy soft-shelled crab, caramelised crispy Mandarin beef and the shiniest roasted Peking duck.
Start with cocktails in the cute basement Moon Bar and work up an appetite.
Not strictly new but revived after it was thought to have closed for good during the pandemic, this iconic brasserie was originally opened by actor Michael Caine and restaurateur Peter Langan in 1976.
Swiftly becoming the place to see and be seen, its diners have included everyone from David Bowie to Princess Diana.
Today, the famous red neon signs are back on, and under new owners Graziano Arricale and James Hitchen, the classy menu features favourites from platters of fruits de mer to filet mignon.
Isaac’s at The Grand, Birmingham
With its forest-green leather banquettes, polished jade tiles and retro-style brass lighting, this Birmingham neighbourhood restaurant, located within the newly renovated Grand Hotel on Colmore Row, oozes chic New York vibes.
The name is a tribute to the first owner of the hotel, Isaac Horton, who opened this local landmark in 1879. You’ll find classic American comfort food such as hot dogs, cornbread and cheesecake, and brasserie staples like steak tartare and veal Milanese.
18, St Andrews
One of the university town’s finest hotels, Rusacks, has relaunched with a fabulous new rooftop restaurant.
Named after the 18th hole of the Old Course which it overlooks, the elegant, wood-panelled room also offers panoramic views of West Sands Beach.
MasterChef: The Professionals winner Derek Johnstone oversees the kitchen, which showcases seasonal Scottish ingredients cooked on an open-flame robata grill. You’ll find Borders lamb rump, smoked St Andrews Bay lobster and Aberdeen Angus beef.
The Maine, Mayfair
Inspired by a refined New England home, the Maine in Mayfair features several spaces for dining and drinking set over three floors.
Owner Joey Ghazal spent his summers in Maine and Vermont, so the food reflects his holiday memories, from oysters Rockefeller and lobster rolls to New England clam chowder, broiled steak and more.
Choose from the Drawing Room, the Tavern, the Brasserie and the Terrace — all slickly designed and perfect for whiling away an afternoon or evening.