Raise a glass or two to some of the best bars in the country

THE sophisticated shake and swirl of the cocktail mixer has won a Kenilworth bar a select place in a list of the top watering holes.

And the basement “shabby chic” atmosphere at Wilde’s wine bar and restaurant in the Parade, Leamington, also saw it join the list of the top 50 bars.

It includes 16 of some of the coolest places to be seen in London and was compiled by The Independent.

Darren Insall, co-owner of The Kenilworth cocktail bar and hotel, Warwick Road, said he was “ecstatic” about the listing.

Along with brother Stuart, they opened the 12-bedroom hotel six years ago in a row of 16th century cottages.

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They have 100 cocktails to tempt the palate with and recipes dating from the 1830s to the 1950s. Prices range from £6.50 to £14.

The Kenilworth made the list on the recommendation of Daniel Baernreuther, bar manager at the world-famous American Bar in London’s Savoy hotel.

Darren said: “We are quite well known in the cocktail world and Daniel is a frequent visitor.

“It’s always nice to be judged by your peers – we are overjoyed. We’ve probably got some of the best bar tenders in the country.”

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The “1920s jazz-style bar” caters for 80 people and herbs used in the cocktails are grown on allotments off Rouncil Lane, Kenilworth.

“It’s all table service, no-one stands at the bar, and when it’s full we lock the door until someone leaves and then we let more in,” said Darren.

“Some people said we were mad doing something like this in Kenilworth, but they have been proved totally wrong.

“A cocktail still represents good value for money and you don’t get the hangover using premium brands and fresh produce.”

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At Wilde’s, chef and managing director Christophe Charpentier said: “Most national newspapers are London-centric and seldom venture into the ‘provinces’. So we’re particularly pleased that The Independent has discovered what Warwickshire people have known for nearly 35 years. It’s recognition for the whole team.”

Joint bar manager Julie Spencer said: “We have an ethos here of good food, good drink and good company.

“We have a shabby chic Bohemian atmosphere – you don’t come in for a meal, you come in for the experience.

“It’s French-style food, but it’s not obscure, and the food is locally sourced.

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“Because it’s a basement some think it will be a bit dingy, but it’s not. We have big windows and at night it’s awash with candles.”