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London Corkers

Updated: Oct 17, 2022

Where can I bring my best bottles in the capital?

There really are two sides of the same coin when it comes to corkage. It’s often about approach; having an older vintage Champagne or top flight Bordeaux flung into the arms of the maitre’d hardly puts the guest in good stead for an evening of exemplary service. From the restaurant’s point of view, if they know their wine list sits quite frankly above average, one should proceed with caution when navigating the process of securing corkage for a dinner or lunch.

Though, I’ve been in the position before, as I’m sure many before me have, where certain bottles in our cellar are reserved for sharing with certain people. I also know precisely where and when I wish for those corks to be popped with said guest(s). Nothing is more annoying than having lugged 750ml of prime grape juice halfway across the capital, or further, to be greeted by a pleasant restaurant manager reminding you that they don’t accept corkage. But it’s an 89 Lafite?!

There’s a simple solution, which is the crux of this article. Ask in advance. Regardless of whether or not the establishment accepts corkage, the courteous thing to do is to ask; explain the situation, explain the bottle, and wait for a response. This may seem patronising and self explanatory, but the lack of understanding plagues so many diners throughout London and beyond that it demands to be addressed. Below are a number of restaurants with superb food, an exceptional ambiance and warming service that if, when asked in advance (and nicely) they accept corkage. But don’t ever expect to be given corkage for free…

Hawksmoor, Various Locations

What is it?

If you fancy a steak in London, and you don’t choose Hawksmoor, what’re you doing?!

What’s the deal?

Over the numerous sites, every single Monday, Hawksmoor allows corkage, for any number of bottles, for a mere £5/bottle across lunch and dinner This is perfect for large group dinners, where lots of bottles are flowing! The rest of the week, corkage is permitted, but it will rise to £25/bottle.

Rochelle Canteen, Shoreditch

What is it? Ever heard of the Henderson’s? Evening Standard Reveller Editor David Ellis calls the family food’s most legendary family, and it’s easy to see why. Margot Henderson, co-owner of Rochelle Canteen takes subtle inspiration from her husband’s iconic St John restaurant. Exceptional and well sourced food, creative dishes and fun at the heart of the Rochelle offering. “There is an infectious sense of culinary pleasure, passion and respect that ripples through the Canteen”...

What’s the deal?

Bring your own bottle on Monday night’s for free, otherwise £6/bottle for still wine, and £8.50 for sparkling wine throughout the week. Easily one of the best bring your own restaurants in London

Sager + Wilde, Paradise Row, Hackney

What is it?

Sager + Wilde is an East London icon, having won numerous awards across its Paradise Row and Hackney Road sites for their innovative and progressive wine list. The pasta is almost as good as the wine list, and the pasta is excellent! Humble and down to earth, you’ll find a lot of natural wine gems as well as traditional favourites.

What’s the deal?

On Mondays, corkage is only £10 per bottle.

La Trompette, Chiswick

What is it? La Trompette is the place to save the good bottles for. With their modest mark-up on an exceptional and versatile list headed up by the knowledgeable Donald Edwards, combined with decadent, traditional dishes by a Marco Pierre White senior chef Rob Weston, expect a truly phenomenal gastronomic experience.

What’s the deal?

Two bottles or one magnum per table, for £30 per bottle.

Minnow, Clapham

What is it?

Minnow calls itself Clapham’s neighbourhood restaurant, and they’ve hit the nail on the head. Laid back and humble, Minnow is a great representation of the London foodie scene, with everything from brunch to banging Sunday roasts.

What’s the deal?

If a Sunday roast with a bottle of red is your thing, then have we got an offer for you. All in for £26 from 4pm every sunday, treat yourself to a roast with all the trimmings, a ‘proper pudding’ and a BYO bottle.

10 Cases, Covent Garden

What is it?

A favourite haunt of die-hard winos, the 10 cases has a modest list, built around a combination of 10 white, 10 red, sparkling, sweet and fortified cases, hence the name! Across from the bistro au vin is the Cave á Vin, a wine shop and bar, serving the same, delightfully simple menu as the Bistro.

What’s the deal?

It's only £15 to drink the wine you purchased from the Cave au Vin, which beats regular restaurant markups!

Andrew Edmunds, Soho

What is it?

One of my favourite haunts, Andrew Edmunds flaunts a Parisian style bistro menu in the heart of Soho, a nod to the area’s illustrious, flamboyant and somewhat sordid past. Candlelit dinners and boozy lunches on handwritten menus, Andrew Edmunds is a London foodie icon.

Though it doesn't offer corkage per se, the wine list has an incredible array of older vintage bottles, bought over a period of 30-40 years en primeur and releasing them from their cellar when ready to drink. I think this should be on this list due to its exceptionally good wine list with very very guest friendly markups. You can pick up some really great value bottles here, along with a tantalisingly good Port and sweet wine list.

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