Some bars were simply made for a nightcap – the type that are all dark and dingy corners with expertly mixed and dangerously strong cocktails behind the bar. And while our after hours plans are being cut to a tame 10pm, there’s no reason why you can’t stop in for a nightcap and relish in the fact you’ll be getting your beauty sleep by 12 midnight.
From sexy hotel bars to rough and ready rock ‘n’ roll joints, here are some of our favourites to end the night on.
Warning: it’s worth booking ahead if you can given the current lockdown measures, even if it does take the magic and spontaneity out of dropping in for “just one more.”
Lyaness, the bar at Bankside’s Sea Containers London, has previously been voted one of the World’s Top 50 Bars and it’s entirely worthy of the appreciation. The bar, that’s decked out in cool blues and Tom Dixon gold touches, is the brainchild of the award-winning Mr Lyan – London’s top mixologist. Expect seriously good cocktails that push the boundaries of booze and mirrored tables just waiting to Instagram your drink on.
Lyaness, 20 Upper Ground, London, UK
If you like your corners dark and your drinks heady, peak behind the heavy velvet curtains of The Gibson for a nightcap you will remember. Cocktails take centerstage here, served up in curious looking vessels and topped with everything from chocolates to dry ice.
Pull up a pew between Thursday and Saturday, between 7.30pm and 9.30pm for some live music, just in time for calling time at 10. Booking is a must – even pre-COVID it was near possible to get a walk-in here.
The Gibson, 44 OLD STREET, London, EC1V 9AQ
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69 Colebrook Row, or the Bar with No Name as it’s otherwise known as, is an Islington institution, serving up some of the finest drinks you’ll find in London since 2009.
It’s part of Tony Conigliaro impressive portfolio of drinking dens – Untitled, Bar Termini, etc – and feels like it’s been plucked from an art house movie scene.
The menu changes with the seasons, but if in doubt order the House Martini – devilishly lethal and utterly delicious.
The Bar With No Name, 69 Colebrooke Row,
London N1 8AA
If you’re looking for wow-factor the Coral Room is your bar. This is one of those places you can quite literally take anyone, from a date to a group of girlfriends (no more than five, please) or even your mum. The service is always friendly, drinks delicious, interiors impeccable and there’s often live jazz to listen to, too.
From a date to a group of girlfriends or even your mum, this is one of those places you can take anyone.
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If sticky floors and leather clad customers, impromptu shots and rock ‘n’ roll tunes are your vibe, make a trip to Upper Street’s Slim Jim’s Liquor Bar.
We’ve never had a bad night in here (or one we can fully remember), but with new 10pm regulations you can indulge in a little pre-watershed hedonism and still be in bed before midnight.
It’s pretty down and dirty so if tame hotel bars are your thing chances are Slim Jim’s won’t be.
Slim Jim’s Liquor Store, 112 Upper Street, Islington, London N1 1QN
After a £15m renovation, iconic Mayfair hotel Flemings looks better than ever and we are thrilled the cosy cocktail bar is back post-lockdown.
Step back into the golden era of the 1930’s with its interiors – think polished rose gold and plush velvet. Take a seat at the bar, order a martini and knock knees for ultimate date night – as long as your drinking partner is within your household of course.
Manetta’s Bar, Flemings Mayfair Hotel, Half Moon Street, London W1J 7BH
There’s no denying it, The Donovan Bar at Brown’s Hotel oozes sophistication and glamour, making it the perfect spot for post-Mayfair dinners.
The bar is named after the famous photographer, Terence Donovan, and the walls are adorned with his works. Plus, the exceptional cocktail menu is named after those he used to photograph.
The drinks hark back to stars and artists from the ’60s and ’70s, such as the “Je T’aime,” inspired by Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg; ‘The Twiggy’ which needs little introduction; and ‘The Biba,’ inspired by the famous fashion boutique of the ’60s and ’70s.
Put on your red shoes and dance the blues at this Bowie themed bar. Ziggy’s at Hotel Café Royal is where David Bowie partied the night away following his last performance as alter ego Ziggy Stardust.
Rockstars Mick Jagger, Lou Reed and Paul McCartney were also in attendance that night making it one of London’s coolest and history-rich bars. A must for music and cocktail fans alike.
68 Regent Street, Piccadilly, W1B 4DY
Just about anyone who’s anyone has nestled into this cosy bar’s nooks, making it one of London’s great institutions.
You can’t usually book but given the new restrictions booking is now a must, which actually makes it far likelier to get a table.
In an ideal world you’d have your nightcap and retire to one of the suites above in the famous five-star hotel, but the tube is just a mere five minutes away too.
Finding this inconspicuous watering hole is the hardest part, but once you’ve located the unmarked black door, made your way down a rickety old staircase and behind a heavy black curtain, you’ll find the closest thing to a speakeasy in Shoreditch.
The bar used to be a former suit tailor’s store room (hence the name), but now plays host to dimly lit cocktails and rough around the edges interiors.
In short: a place that was made for sinking your final drink before home time.
This cosy basement bar on the cusp of Liverpool Street and Moorgate has been one of our hidden secrets for the past four years. but given it’s the perfect nightcap spot, we had to share.
Whisky is their elixir of choice and there’s nothing they don’t know about it – if you know your Islands from Highlands it should be top of your drinking den list.
The interiors are dark, dimly lit and sexy with an impressive carved wood bar that runs the length of the room. Make it your last port of call before a civilised 10pm curfew and sink a few wee drams before closing time.
Black Rock, 9 Christopher Street, London EC2A 2BS
Sandwiched between an off licence and a kebab shop just off Old Street roundabout, you’ll find a big wooden door and inside, Nightjar. It’s one of London’s best-loved secret bars, with potent cocktails and live jazz every evening.
The menu itself is a nod to bygone times with sections labelled Pre-Prohibition, Prohibition and Post-War.
Warning: it’s always busy and there’s a strict if-your-name’s-not-down-you’re-not-coming-in policy so book ahead.
Nightjar, 129 City Road, London EC1V 1JB