A few years ago, going for a drink in London meant stumbling into an old-man boozer or an outdated wine bar. But now the speakeasy, a different breed of bar based around atmospheric drinking dens of Prohibition America, have swept the city by storm, bringing formidable cocktails and an unbeatable array of spirits to the table. Here are 8 of London’s best speakeasies:

5CC

City-Style Wine Bar With a Twist

Hidden away under the old Harrild & Sons pub on Blackfriars Road, 5CC is centred around a glowing bar stocked with every spirit imaginable (there are over eighty kinds of whisky alone). Cocktails such as the P-daq, made with creamy pistacchio, are seriously impressive.

Where: 26 Farringdon Street, Farringdon, EC4A 4AB
Website: www.5cc-london.com

Barts

Authentic Speakeasy with Crazy Decor

Disguised in a block of flats in Chelsea, Barts is a real riot of cocktails and absurd design. Find the cartoon wallpaper, ring the bell and head inside for an Abstinence Cocktail – Campari, absinthe bitters and gin.

Where: Chelsea Cloisters, 87 Sloane Avenue, Chelsea, SW3 3DW
Website: www.barts-london.com

Evans & Peel Detective Agency

A Hard-Boiled Noir-Themed Bar

We’d forgive you for thinking that Evans & Peel was actually a real detective agency. Based around the crime novels of the ’30s and ’40s a la Raymond Chandler, the attention to detail here is really special – a bookshelf leads through to the bar, bottles have to be drunk out of American brown paper bags, and cigar boxes filled with cocktails.

Where: 310c Earls Court Road, Kensington, SW5 9BA
Website: www.evansandpeel.com

69 Colebrooke Row

Back-to-Basics Cocktail Cathedral

If all the drama and secrecy isn’t your thing, 69 Coleman Row – a bar so unpretentious it doesn’t even have a name – is the one for you. The focus is on the drinks, with world-class mixologists rustling up a seasonal menu of cocktails. Just be sure to book in advance.

Where: 69 Colebrooke Row, Islington, N1 8AA
Website: www.69colebrookerow.com

BYOC

Casino-Themed Bar With Your Very Own Mixologists

It’s your 1930s Prohibition-themed casino bar, but with an intriguing twist – you bring a bottle of your own spirit, settle down to a table and watch your very own mixologist create bespoke cocktails based on your tipple of choice.

Where: 9-11 Basement, Camden High Street, Camden, NW1 7JE
Website: www.byoc.co.uk

The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town

Dramatic Fun House of Booze

Already a legendary drinking hole, The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town has a whole mythology of its own. Ask to ‘see the mayor’ in The Breakfast Club, and you’ll be led through a retro ’50s style Smeg fridge and into a whole new world of speakeasy. Have a dance, enjoy the drinks, and sneak out through the hidden exit through the toilets.

Where: 12-16 Artillery Lane, Shoreditch, E1 7LS
Website: www.themayorofscaredycattown.com

Worship Street Whistling Shop

Victorian-Themed Speakeasy

With its late-Victorian theme more reminiscent of Jack the Ripper than Al Capone, the Worship Street Whistling Shop isn’t your usual Prohibition speakeasy. Cocktails inspired by nineteenth-century drinking trends – old-timey flavours like rhubarb, marmalade and forgotten Sarsaparilla make delicious cameos – prove worthy treats.

Where: 69 Worship Street, Shoreditch, EC2A 2DU
Website: www.whistlingshop.com

Cartizze

High Class, Moody Underground Bar

From old classics such as the Sicilian Gimlet to big bold newcomers (the Olive Oil Gin Fizz is unbelievable), the cocktails here are the main draw, but it’s the decor of fireplaces-and-marble that make you want to stay. And a steady flow of funk and soul seals the deal.

Where: 4 Lancashire Court, Mayfair, W1S 1EY
Website: www.cartizzebar.com