Iconic London bar to close in September

Photo: labbaruk.com
Photo: labbaruk.com

It’s the end of an era for LAB Bar in London, as new owners have taken over the iconic bar and have announced that LAB will serve its last drinks this September.

The new owners – Bobby Hiddleston and Mia Johansson, and founders of Speakeasy Entertainment (Nightjar & Oriole), Edmund Weil and Rosie Stimpson – will launch a new bar on the site come this English autumn.

LAB began in 1996 as a training school for bartenders called the London Academy of Bartenders, before beginning its life as a bar in 1999. The bar has been home to many big bartending alum, with names like Dre Masso, Tim Stones, John Gakuru, and the late Gregor de Gruyther (whom invented the storied Nuclear Daiquiri at LAB) all having spent time behind the stick.

Think Spirits’ John Gakuru was the general manager at LAB in the early 2000’s and said that the bar was instrumental not just in building his own career, but the careers of others, too.

“”The news of LAB’s closing is bitter sweet,” he told Australian Bartender. “I’ve had some of the most bi-polar highs and lows of my career in that little Soho den! LAB forced me to step up to the management plate at 23 years old when all I wanted to do was become a better bartender. I didn’t want the responsibility.


“Four and a half years later I was a proud professional and on track for a career that would not have been possible without LAB. The roll call of people who called LAB home, honed their skills and went on to global success reads as the who’s who of the international cocktail world. I’m very, very proud of my 2000 to 2005 tenure at LAB and the life long friends I’ve made will remain exactly that… life long. As the reins of this auspicious den of iniquity are handed over to Bobby and Mia I know that while the venue will change, the heart and soul of everything that LAB was and is, will live on.”

Former LAB bartender and Global Brand Ambassador for Beefeater Tim Stones said: “Lab has been the start of many bartenders’ careers. If you look at the alumnus of the place, it reads like a who’s who of drinks industry legends.

“I was lucky enough to spend the best part of four eye-opening years there and it became a turning point in my career. I still proudly reference it any chance I get, such was its influence. Lab will always be a special place to me and I will be sad to see it go. Having seen the passion and dedication that Bobby and Mia put into their drinks, service and venues I am looking forward to the great things they will do there. I will be among the first through the door.”

The new owners said in a statement that they hope to hold a number of farewell parties for LAB with guest shifts by former bartenders a feature – follow @LABclosingparties on Instagram and @labclosingparty on Twitter to stay updated.

The next iteration of the space is due to open in November they said.

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