It’s indisputable that London boasts the best, most exciting drinking scenes in the world – our bars consistently top official lists and it’s easy to see why. Finding a bar to suit your needs, whatever they may be, isn’t difficult. From rooftops overlooking the city, to smoky basements; from wine bars and bars who keep it classic and traditional, to bars that really push the boundaries, London really does have it all. Here are the best bars in London
One for those who enjoy the finer things in life, this bar should go to the top of your list. Guests at this knockout, award-winning establishment can expect a dazzling cocktail menu where each and every option is lovingly crafted with meticulous detail by the bar staff. Innovative cocktails, the Connaught’s signature Martini Trolley and a refined interior, featuring huge mirrors and shimmering walls coated in platinum silver leaf, make this bar the perfect place to bring friends, colleagues or that date you’re trying to impress. And if, like us, you’ve experienced your fair share of boozers you’d rather forget (uni pub crawls, budget holidays, hen dos… the list is too long), see Connaught Bar as a welcome step into a more sophisticated future. We can only hope.
A must for all wine-lovers, Gordon’s is London’s oldest wine bar. With a wine list that is as extensive as it is established, Gordon’s boasts offerings from across the globe, French, Italian and Spanish wines are placed alongside Chilean, Australian and Californian labels, with Organic, Bio-dynamic and vegan wines on offer. Drinks for everyone!
Referring to an old English drink with the same name, Purl, as a bar, has nothing old about it. While it aims to bring back forgotten libations from the prohibition era, the drinks are presented on a multi-sensory level, bringing a new flare and creativity to this London bar-top. Watch as they use fogs, airs, foams and liquid nitrogen to bring the drink to life. One to instagram for sure.
If its drinks with a view you’re after, look no further. A rooftop bar that overlooks St. Paul’s cathedral, you are always guaranteed breath-taking views and a great vibe. A wide range of cocktails, Madison speaks to us on a personal level, with their sharing cocktails ample enough to make an evening catch-up even merrier.
Set at Level 52 of the Shard, the Shangri-la Hotel’s destination bar, is unlike any other. The highest bar in London, GŎNG has unparalleled views of the capital. Offering three lofted areas; a cocktail bar, champagne bar and an infinity pool (yes, really) the bar is one you won’t ever forget. You can order rare and vintage champagne by the glass, as well as a variety of signature cocktails. Luxury at its finest.
Sitting beneath Sosharu is 7 Tales, a bar that is bringing the mischievous nature of late-night Tokyo to London. Neon lights and hip hop beats provide the setting for cocktails which appear deceptively simple, but are full of adventurous flavours. Expect to find the likes of Turnmills Rice Wine which mixes rice-washed gin with Cocchi Americano and sesame.
In the 60s if you were up for a night of hedonism and perhaps a little scandal, then you’d have headed to The Pinstripe Club, but now Disrepute stands in its place. The team behind it are the guys from Sovereign Loss and the Barrio family so embracing London’s current cocktail culture is going to be the order of the day. Housed in a basement and hidden between Carnaby Street and Beak Street, it’s all wood-panelled walls and vaulted ceilings.
Alright, we admit it – we’re suckers for a pretty view. And gazing from the 40th floor of Bishopsgate, in London this as impressive as they come. Once you’ve taken in the skyline, soak up a few drinks: Duck & Waffle’s cocktail menu is as long as the tower is high (alright, maybe not quite that long). No matter how good that view looks when you first arrive, it looks even better after a couple of glasses.
Signature Cocktail: It has to be the Filthy Martini: Bombay Sapphire gin, whole grain mustard & Branston Pickle distillates, dry vermouth, all served over an oyster. Now that’s just dirty.
Long before it won the title of World’s Best Bar at the World’s 50 Best Bars awards, American Bar was one of the most iconic cocktail bars in the world. The longest surviving of the American bars that brought cocktails to London throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the American Bar has been home to legendary head bartenders such as Ada Coleman and Harry Craddock, creator of the famous Savoy Cocktail book. With its live jazz and Art Deco interior it makes for the perfect place for an after dinner drink.
Intimate Old Street bar, The Gibson, is the work of Marian Beke, formerly of Nightjar and it is known for both its adventurous, outrageous and unique cocktails and its cocktail glasses. All of the drinks include vinegar and you’re equally as likely to find a drink served in a ceramic fish as it is an upside down lightbulb.
Spices, good. Cocktails, great. Spiced cocktails? Amazing! The Trading House harks back to the time of empire, when London was the trading hub of the world. Housed in an enormous, chandeliered former bank with vaulted ceilings and walls decorated with zebra heads, it definitely looks the part: no doubt about it, your date will be impressed. The drinks are even better – the pinches of cardamom, cinnamon and coriander really ‘spice’ things up!
Signature Cocktail: Try the Trader’s Treacle – spiced Jamaican rum with a little bit of Karma and a lot of apple juice.
The Handbook loves a classy cocktail bar. And what could be classier than a fine suit? Located inside a former tailors in Spitalfields, Discount Suit Company bring some made-to-measure quality to east London’s cocktail scene. The seasonal cocktail list features a tempting mix of classics and newcomers, but if you want something more bespoke the talented bar staff are more than able to design it for you. Fix up, look sharp and bring a map – it’s seriously tucked away!
Signature Cocktail: The list constantly changes, but right now the Black Jack is pretty hot: dark rum infused with oak anise, antica forumla, velvet falrnum and angosture bitters.
Yep, that’s right – WC Clapham is inside a former water closet, but ‘WC’ also stands for something much more up The Handbook’s street: wine and charcuterie! Aside from the excellent wine list with both New and Old World wines, the meat and cheese boards are to die for – the bar snacks are by no means optional. Baked mozzarella wrapped in peppered pork shoulder and rocket, yes please!
Signature Cocktail: There’s a decent selection of classics but unless you’re desperate for a Martini, go for the wine.
Going for ‘a swift one’ doesn’t have to mean necking a pint. Inspired by continental culture, where a quick drink in a traditional bar is an after-work ritual, Swift’s upstairs standing bar is perfect for a brief aperitif. But The Handbook is always partial to one or two more, so if you’re anything like us you’ll definitely want to head downstairs to the cocktail lounge. Art deco sofas, live piano music and a Whisky Library all conspire to turn your swift one into a real session.
Signature Cocktail: Sgroppini, hands down – a blend of Prosecco and lemon sorbet. How could you only have one!?
No, this isn’t just a themed cocktail bar – it’s actually within an authentic Victorian bath house. If that makes you think of chilly, windswept corridors, then think again – this place is seriously opulent. Red velvet armchairs, patterned arabesques and elaborately decorated columns make this the perfect place to sip on a stylish cocktail – and they’ve got plenty of those. Oh, and there’s a bathtub full of champagne on ice. Naturally!
Signature Cocktail: Indulge in the Stirred Salted Caramel – Sea Salt & Caramel infused Scotch Whiskey, and ice.
If you love wine then The Remedy is definitely one for you, with a wine list that changes almost weekly you won’t ever get bored of what’s available. They are passionate about wine, working with small producers rather than mass-market wineries. The friendly team host regular wine focussed events and best of all it turns into an underground wine bar by night.
Piano Works is located in Victorian warehouse where two pianists and accompanying musicians perform live from an audience-requested playlist until closing. Drinks include American Iced Tea made with Finlandia vodka, bombay sapphire gin, cointreau, bacardi carta blanca, sauza tequila, cherry maraschino juice, and Dr Pepper, and Necatrine Lynchburg Lemonade made from nectarine infused bourbon and Cointreau, orange bitters and lemonade.
It took owners Eric Yu and Dre Masso a year to find the perfect space in which to open a cocktail bar and it was worth the wait. Opium, situated in the heart of Chinatown, is sprawled over three floors; the multi-roomed venue boasts The Apothecary Bar, where spirits are dispensed into Chinese medicine bottles, and The Tea Parlour where they showcase their love for Chinese Teas and Dim Sum.
Known for having the World’s Best Bartender Ryan Chetiyawardana a.k.a. Mr Lyan, (We aren’t joking, he won World’s Best Bartender at the Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards) the Dandelyan creates a host of concoctions using exotic flavours and unexpected combinations. This season’s cocktail menu, Vices of Botany, is intended to explore the full spectrum of our guilty pleasures, and is divided into four sections: Faith, Lust, Currency and Rock ‘n’ Roll. Drinks include Oyster Lunch, which features Mr Lyan’s Cream-distilled Gin, and an Oak Island Old Fashioned with Bacardi Carta Oro, and raw cacao you have to try. With interiors designed by Tom Dixon, it features an iconic green marble bar, and amazing views over the Thames. Great for evening drinks and the Pink Ambassador seats are crazy comfy to relax in.
No doubt you’ve visited the Sky Garden before (if not, you definitely need to), so it won’t be hard to guess why this is on the list. With stunning 360 degree views of London, within a leafy indoor garden, it’s the perfect place to sip on one of their many offerings, whatever the weather. For cold, rainy day days there’s hot cocktails, including De Fine Nutty; Amaretto liqueur, cognac, cinnamon and hot chocolate, and Firework, which features Calvados, pear and violet. Perfect for London in the sunshine are the Sky Bouquet with Ketel One vodka, rhubarb and lychee liqueur, as well as the Maya Kick; Zacapa 23 YRO rum, Cointreau, and fresh fig. Twists on classics include a Dulce Martini you’d regret not trying.
Where else can you drink with real-life flamingos? We don’t think this needs any more to be honest, but nevertheless, The Roof Gardens are always holding events and parties, and have different gardens to visit. Book a table in the Babylon Restaurant for a bird’s eye view of the English Woodland Garden, or pop in for a cocktail on the terrace. Perfect for beautiful weather relaxing.
Milk & Honey is a London institution, with bars on three floors, and a variety of intimate booths, counter and lounge drinking options. A Member’s only club, access to non-members is by reservation only. All glassware is chilled to -40 degrees, and so you know they aren’t messing about when it comes to the quality of their drinks. Choose from a selection of eight cocktail groups, with five choices in each, you’ll need a membership in any hopes of trying them all.
We all know that drinking whisky is supposed to help a cold and that a G&T is a really good way to cure a headache (if it’s of the hangover variety of course) and embracing this is pharmacy based bar, First Aid Box. Found in Herne Hill the bar is from the duo behind drinks consultancy Salts of the Earth and Brixton bar, Shrub & Shutter – Chris Edwards and Dave Tregenza. Rolling with the theme quite heavily, it stays on the side of adventurous rather than novel.
An extensive, and we mean extensive, cocktail menu, Crazy Bear Fitzrovia has sixty-seven drinks on its cocktail menu alone. Choose anything from Crazy Bear Classic, which include a Pisco Sour, to their range of Martinis – we’d recommend the watermelon or goji berry- and a catalogue of exclusive cocktails when a classic just won’t cut it.
Even among London speakeasies, this place is legendary. And it’s with good reason – just entering the place is unforgettable. Everybody knows that fridges lead to good things, but far fewer people know just what goodness lies beyond the ordinary-seeming Smeg fridge door in Spitalfields’ The Breakfast Club. Pull it open and you’ll find a secret tunnel to one of the city’s most breathtaking cocktail bars, which captures the seething, moody atmosphere of the Prohibition. With dazzling cocktails made with big hitters like mezcal, tequila and bourbon, prepare for some big flavours. Here’s to the Mayor.
Signature cocktail: Push the boat out with a Bonfire Banana – lashings of mezcal, banana cream, a whole egg and some smoked banana agave. It’s out there, that’s for sure.
If anyone tries to tell you that Shoreditch isn’t that trendy, take them to Lounge Bohemia. Sneak through a humdrum doorway on Great Eastern Street and you’ll find yourself in a Soviet-era Czech living room. But whereas your average Prague apartment would have little more to offer than beer and vodka, Lounge Bohemia have some serious cocktail-game. Prepare to sip from a perfume bottle or a tube of toothpaste. And to complete the Cold War feel, the mysterious website features only a hastily-scribbled address and telephone number. Never change, Shoreditch. Never change.
Signature Cocktail: For a proper Eastern Bloc rocker, go for the Gypsy Pony, with indescribable rosemary vodka.
A moody, atmospheric bar from the guys that brought you Happiness Forgets, this is a proper US-style speakeasy. But unlike some of Brooklyn’s bars, it’s a chilled out, friendly affair. Don’t worry about booking a table or dressing up – just head inside for some quality cocktails and free pool. And if you didn’t have a reason to go to Stoke Newington, now you do.
Signature Cocktail: It has to be the Penfold Sour – a punchy mix of Kamm & Sons, lime, cane syrup and egg white.
You can’t drink decor. That’s a fact. The guys at High Water know this – that’s why unlike other drinking dens, they’ve put the drinks first. You won’t find kooky memorabilia on their walls. And given that it’s on the down and dirty Kingsland Road in Dalston, it kind of makes sense. Head inside for some proper, well-made cocktails that have seen High Water praised as the ‘Bartender’s Bar’. For true connoisseurs.
Signature Cocktail: High Water’s homespun classic Surface to Air Cocktail is a real hit of tropical flavours, with pineapple, koko kanu, gin and Branca Menta.
Bethnal Green’s Paradise Row is not exactly short of good bars, but in Mother Kelly’s they’ve got a great one. Not only do they serve up quality cocktails, it’s also a ‘tap room’ – meaning there are dozens of quality beers on draught. If you find a fave in one of the rows of refrigerator’s along the side, you can buy a crate or two to take home. With a huge range at hand, there’s something for everyone. Eye-popping graffiti and a pumped-up atmosphere seal the deal.
Signature Cocktail: Forget about cocktails – try your luck with one of the craft ales instead.
Admit it – when sipping on a cocktail, don’t you wish you were really on a beach somewhere? The Handbook does. That’s why we love Trailer Happiness. This intimate Tiki bar is a kitschy tribute to the South Seas. Or the Caribbean. Basically, anywhere that could pass for paradise. Either way, expect tropical bar snacks, exotic cocktails and bartenders who look like they could hula dance at any moment.
Signature Cocktail: Hell in the Pacific – Trinidad Overproof Rum getting it on with Bacardi Ocho, with pomegranate and lime for good measure.
Say what you want about the Victorians – they had some serious style. Head to Powder Keg Diplomacy in Clapham and you’ll see what we mean. Top hats, colonial decor and Alice-in-Wonderland lampshades are all eye-catching, but it’s the cocktails that steal the show. All the ingredients are British, including those on the sumptuous nibbles menu (make sure you try the Ox cheek bites!), so you can feel patriotic while you indulge.
Signature Cocktail: There are so many excellent cocktails with old-fashioned ingredients to choose from, but first and foremost try The Baron’s Boulevard. Cherry and hibiscus-infused Woodford Reserve, with Belsazar sweet Vermouth and Campari.
Forget New York – the Italians are the ininal godfathers of cool. Name after the famous train station, Bar Termini in Soho lets you step into 1950s Rome. They’ve got full-bodied espressos (just £1), proper Italian bar snacks and s selection of authentic Negroni, served in custom-made glasses. It’s intimate, too: just 25 seats make Bar Termini the ideal spot for a date, Italian style.
Signature Cocktail: It’s hard to look beyond those Negronis – so impress the waiter by going for the Superiore, infused with pink peppercorns.
Lucky Claphamites. They’ve got not one but two fabulous Victorian cocktail bars. Inspired by Lewis Carroll – probably the best Victorian to model your bar on – The Walrus room boasts eighteenth century refinement. Taxidermied animals, jars displaying unusual plants and antique microscopes are cheeky nods to the age of scientific discovery. More importantly, it makes The Walrus Room an interesting place to drink, though with cocktails this kooky that’s not strictly necessary.
Signature Cocktail: They’re all pretty sophisticated, but the Bitter Tear takes the biscuit: Bols Genever, rhubarb and rosehip cordial, Campari, Carpano Antica and rhubarb bitters.
The Modern Pantry can whip up some excellent dishes. But their dedicated bar, The Alpha Beta, is a destination in its own right. Climb onto one of the bar stools at the iconic 18-seater horseshoe-shaped bar and enjoy some of acclaimed mixologist Ryan Chetiyawardana’s latest creations. Housed entirely in a Grade II-listed, art deco building, it’s a class act from top to bottom.
Signature Cocktail: A mixture of cream gin with strawberry and cardomom sorbet, grapefruit and tonic, the Sgroppino G&T is an instant classic.
Nightjar: a bar so good, it inspired London’s speakeasy revolution. It’s not hard to see why. This subterranean den of cool buzzes with live jazz, expertly-crafted cocktails and the kind of leather seats you never want to leave. With the drinks menu divided into historical eras, cocktail aficionados will be spoilt for choice – and you can count on Nightjar getting them just right. The original is still one of the best.
Signature Cocktail: So many to choose from, you’ll just have to book a repeat trip – but make sure you try the Ward 8 (a mixture of Bullit Rye, blood orange marmalade, grenadine, fresh lemon, cornichon juice and pickling spices).
Now this is a seriously sexy cocktail bar. Head into the basement of Roka, one of London’s best Japanese restaurants, and you’ll discover the edgy atmospheric Shochu Lounge. Once you take your eyes off the impressive manga graffiti on the walls, taste one of the oriental cocktails. Many are made with ‘shochu’, a distilled version of sake which goes down very nicely.
Signature cocktail: Don’t leave without tasting the Spiced Pear Shochu, which blends pear-infused shochu with Christmas spices.
Mirrored ceilings, antique furniture and award-winning mixologists – sounds good, right? Soho’s Blind Pig is one of those classy bars you wish was at the end of your street. Just like the atmosphere, the drinks are first-rate: a mixture of cocktail classics with little tweaks and unusual new creations. Flick through the beautifully illustrated menu, pick your favourite and let the bartenders do the rest.
Signature Cocktail: ‘X Marks the Spot’ – a punchy mixture of Chivas Regal, Appleton Signature Blend rum, Lapsang Souchong tea, peat, pistachio, lime and apple. Now that doesn’t just mark the spot, it hits the spot (yeah, we went there!)
Two bars, one home. Upstairs is ‘Boston’, a suave cocktail bar whipping up the classics. Downstairs is ’68’, a polished wine bar serving almost fifty wines by the glass, with bottles available from just £20. Our advice? Don’t head there if you want to stay sober!
Signature Cocktail: If you’re in the mood for something special, try the Squid Ink Martini. Yep, it’s got real squid ink inside, and yes, it’s amazing!
Step off the beaten track and discover Clarendon, a cocktail bar hidden among the houses in residential Pimlico. It’s worth digging out, because the cocktails in the basement bar are all inspired by your favourite flicks. Slurp Slumdog Millionaire, have a tipple of the Titanic or just get drunk on Anchorman. They change theme every few months, so it’s worth heading back even once you’ve tried them all.
Signature Cocktail: Lost in Translation is anything but: delicious Madagascan Vanilla Four Roses Small Batch mixed with Cocchi Torino Vermouth, Earl Grey Sake, Cacao Blanc and Angostura. As good as the film (and less confusing)!
Turns out gin and rum have in common – not just that they both get you tipsy. Merchant House have one of the largest collections of both spirits in London, all housed in an elegant wood-panelled bar that you’d be proud to get sloshed in. History buffs will love the Empire-focused, map-filled menu, bringing the dark past of the drinks to life. And with 600 kinds of rum and gin to choose from, that’s a lot of booze.
Signature Cocktail: With rum instead of whisky, Merchant House’s ‘Empire Old Fashioned’ shakes things up. Better yet, they give you a beer while you wait – after all, crafting a good cocktail takes time.
A former essence factory, The Distillery is now home to gin – litres and litres of gin. Not only will you find plenty of British gin from around the country, there’s also bottle after bottle to discover from around the world. Best of all, they’ve stayed true to their perfume-factory roots – The Distillery’s cocktails feature home-made aromatics, infusions and syrups.
Signature Cocktail: The Distillery Eau de Vie – A blend of gin and dry vermouth infused with seasonal herbs and spices.
We’ve always believed that a stiff drink can work miracles. Tonic & Remedy’s apothecary-themed bar, inside Searcy’s hotel, has the kind of cocktails that can fix you up. Herbs and spices feature in every drink, so it’s bound to do you some good. The experimental mixologists aren’t afraid to give you some tough love, either: some of the creations here really push the boat out, with ingredients like smoked mezcal and velvet falnerum.
Signature Cocktail: The Apple & Rye – Ritten house rye, Olmeca tequila, apple, honey finished with ginger ale.
Pull up a pew at Reverend JW Simpson and enjoy the guilty pleasure of drinking in a former vicarage. Walk down the stained-glass stairway and sink into one of the circles of leather seats, and experience the divine cocktails. And for true believers, there are the ‘Spirited Sermons’ – masterclasses recreating long-forgotten cocktails.
Signature Cocktail: Call us childish, but we couldn’t resist The Missionary: plantain-infused buttered skipper rum, brought to life with vanilla, cherry bark and cocoa bitters. Heaven!
Hidden behind a battered black door in Chinatown is an old fashioned speakeasy. Inside, you’ll find an intimate, cosy bar, with tables crammed in the nooks and crannies. Soak up the cool, laid-back atmosphere while soaking up a few cocktails. Expect big flavours and daredevil mixology – just don’t expect to be able to find it easily…
Signature Cocktail: Go for the the Opium Express. A whirlwind of purple shiso-infused Ketel One, goji liqueur and syrup, dragon fruit, lemon juice and poppy seeds, it’s worth the trek all by itself.
The Handbook has never met Mr. Fogg, but after a couple of drinks in this joint we think we’d like him. Styled in turn-of-the-century decor and stuffed with old fashioned knick knacks (get a load of the penny farthing), it’s one of those places where every corner has a surprise in store. Even the doorman wears a genuine top hat. And the cocktails are just as imaginative as the decor implies – without spoiling too much, one of the drinks is served in a wooden globe.
Signature Cocktail: Each cocktail is so different, you need to try more than just one – but be sure to go for the Coaxer somewhere along the line. Johnnie Walker, fresh lemon juice, fresh egg white, rare powdered cane sugar, and a dash of Creme de Prune.
Since Callooh Callay opened back in 2008, it has been serving up some of Shoreditch’s and indeed, London’s finest and most creative cocktails. It’s won multiple awards, including being included in Drinks International’s The World’s Best Bar Awards in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2016. If you’re in the know (and now all of you will be) head to the wardrobe at the back of the room and discover the Jubjub Bar. It’s like Narnia and Alice in Wonderland in one.
Signature Cocktail: The menu changes every 6 months, so no signature cocktail to speak of.
You know how things aren’t always quite what they seem? That’s the deal with Milroy’s whisky shop in Soho. That bookshelf in the shop, it’s not a bookshelf. It’s a hidden door and if you go through it you will come across The Vault. A cosy, little, basement bar, is all exposed stone and wood panelling, the perfect place to hide away from Soho with a cocktail or two.
The Fumoir Bar is the sort of place that you want to keep a secret from everyone (although we’ve rather ruined the secret now) they want you to keep it a secret too, you can’t take any photos. Found inside Claridge’s, it has a timeless glamour to it, with deep purple tones and golden tones and an art deco feel to it. Add it to your list of places to go for when you’re trying to seriously impress a date, or want an intimate night cap. There are no reservations either, so you can just drop in.
It’s small, it’s dark, the walls are bare and the lights are hazy red, there’s an air of dive bar, but the cocktails are the work of mixologist and genius, Ryan Chetiyawardana. On the former site of first bar White Lyan, Ryan and his team mix up cocktails such as the Man on Fire a mix of whisky and mezcal. Promoting sustainability they’ve done away with plastic straws, opting for bamboo straws you can take home and making lemon sorbet from left over lemons.
Opening back in 2014 as the second Grind venture, Soho Grind is all about the coffee and juice in the day and the espresso martinis and cocktails at night. Just as we are. They don’t just limit the menu to one standard espresso martini though, oh no, you’ll also find the Hot Flat White Russian with Kahlua, Reyka vodka and milk and the Bulletproof Martini made from bourbon, butterscotch and cacao liqueur. Sure, to give you a caffeine hit.
SignatureCocktail: Grind Espresso Martini – Grind house espresso, Reyka vodka, sugar
Kansas Smitty’s has a limited cocktail menu selection divided between juleps and house cocktails but as the saying goes its quality not quantity. The bar also has a unique draw thanks to their self-titled, jazz and swing band, Kansas Smitty’s, who perform live. We suggest you enjoy Smitty’s julep which is a mix of wild turkey 81 bourbon and Fernet Branca infused with raisin, peach, cassia bark and mint as you watch the house band do their thing.
Cocktail Connoisseur Matt Whiley is the mastermind behind Peg + Patriot (as well as Purl, Worship Street Whistling Shop and the soon to be opened Scout) so you can expect some innovative concoctions wihere the cocltails take inspiration from food like foie gras, beetroot, sweet potato and peanut. The mixology maestro claims that their biggest selling drink at the Bethnal Green venue is their pig’s blood Bloody Mary – not for the faint hearted.
The Worship Street Whistling Shop has featured on the World’s 50 Best Bars list for three consecutive years so it must be doing something right. The Victorian themed bar has a cocktail menu inspired by the elements: earth, wind, fire, water. Unique cocktails include 1691 made with goat’s cheese, Distilled Ketel One, Spiced Raspberry Shrub and Mead Grand Marnier Reduction.
Inventive house cocktails must be the reason that The Shrub and Shutter is Brixton’s best bar as their drinks menu is a one of a kind experience ranging from the relatively normal to just bang out weird, take the ackee and saltfish option for example made with elorado rum, wray and nephew overproof rum, ackee bitters, shallot shrub, tomato consommé, mixed pepper, chilli and saltfish fritter.
Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels in Seven Dials is an eclectic wine bar from the bookings-only group Experimental Cocktail Club. The interiors are reminiscent of a glamorous Parisian boudoir and with over 400 hand-picked wines to choose from you are spoilt for choice. The wines are expectedly international, hailing from all over including the slopes of Etna and the vineyards of Greece and Hungary in addition to France’s less-travelled roads.
Mark’s Bar can be found tucked underneath HIX Soho with dimmed lights, low bar and large chesterfields. The popular Soho bar doesn’t take bookings and usually pretty full but it’s worth the squash to enjoy a more eccentric approach to drinking that only the infamous Mark’s Bar can offer. Widely known as one of the best bars in London, Mark’s has a seasonally changing cocktail list that is full of highly unusual drinks that keeps Londoners coming back for more.
Found in Smithfield Market through a subway-style entrance, Oriole has described itself as ‘an oasis of warmth, mystery and magic’ which becomes apparent once through the doors to the exotic Orient themed interior. The contemporary cocktail den’s main attraction is the cocktails who are the star of the show at Oriole, all created with flair and many fusing flavours of sweet and savoury like the Fernworthy; gin, Tasmanian and Madagascan peppercorns, radish, beetroot spirit, champagne and honey.
Located in the luxury 5 star Rosewood Hotel, Scarfes Bar is a unique London bar inspired by the atmosphere of a drawing room and the sophistication of a gentleman’s club. Nods to renowned caricaturist and namesake of the bar, Gerald Scarfe, can be seen throughout the refined lounge where his art is proudly displayed; Gerald described the bar as “my personal art gallery, where you can see my life on walls”. If G&T is your tipple then you’ll be in heaven as there are over 400 gins to choose from as well as 7 tonics.
Escape the crowds of Soho and enter this oak-panelled bar specialising in – you guessed it – punch. Sip on one of thirty specialty punches on offer, including the signature EDITION house punch, gin with jasmine tea and oak moss, while a curated soundtrack including soul and blues, plus impromptu live music, takes your troubles away. Don’t miss the Punch Room’s new tea concept, Scandal Water, inspired by the 19th century afternoon teas of London’s elite, spent divulging scandalous gossip. Pairings of food and boozy tea-based tipples will have you dishing the dirt and finding out the *juicy* gossip in no time.
Difficult though it may be to tire of London’s array of drinking joints, this is your first stop should the issue arise. The 2015 winner of Best International Hotel Bar offers unique drinks designed to push the boundaries and excite guests, within a theatrical art-deco setting. With live nightly performances from up and coming talent plus monthly Cabaret and Burlesque evenings, this renowned bar will lead you through its history with specially designed Character Cocktails for four of the most famous personalities to have stayed at the Savoy. Whether you like a tipple that sizzles and smokes or a cocktail that foams and froths, this one is worth a visit. Don’t mind if we do.
Pick up a prescription and hurry down to Herne Hill for a different kind of doctor’s clinic. Whatever your ailment, the owners of Salts of the Earth drinks company and award-winning restaurant The Shrub & Shutter have got the remedy. The team’s chefs serve up a range of small plates to enjoy alongside cocktails from an extensive menu, divided into Doctor’s Orders and…not the doctor’s orders. What with the impressive array of drinks, you’ll probably need to return a few times, just to be sure. So whether or not you go with good intentions, we won’t judge. After all, you know what they say, a cocktail a day keeps the doctor at bay… And who are we to argue?
Hard day at the office? Monday? Raining? Whatever your excuse, life is hard so there’s always a reason to enjoy a well-earned glass of wine or three in the cosy wine bar that is Hyde Bar, whether or not you are staying at the Royal Park Hotel. Nestle into one of the comfortable sofas around the fireplace or watch the talented bartenders at work as they concoct a delightful selection of cocktails. A range of small sharing plates from Head Chef Matt McKiernan enhances the relaxed atmosphere and pairs perfectly with the drinks menu, featuring a host of premium quality red, white and rosé wines from around the world. Go on, it’s wine o’clock somewhere.
If you love jazz then you’ll love jazz club Ronnie Scott’s. If you’re indifferent about jazz then you’re going to have your mind made up for you by Ronnie Scott’s and if you hate jazz, Ronnie Scott’s will change your mind. This jazz den has long been the home of syncopated rhythm since the 1960s and the recently added bar at Upstairs @ Ronnie’s is a great place to sip and soak up the notes.
ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY! Is the number of calories in a double vodka and coke, or at Flight Club it’s the golden score from three treble twenties. If you ever watched Bullie strutting his stuff on eighties TV gold Bullseye then you will love Flight Club, the perfect place to both enjoy a few rounds of darts, and a few rounds. But it’s not just a bar for wannabe Phil-The-Power-Taylors, Flight Club is a great place to hang out with friends and enjoy the fantastic sharing selections on offer and a full menu of pizzas, buns with fries and salads.
If the idea of whisky on tap gets you pretty excited then Black Rock will rock your world. Seated at a long table, hewn out of a tree trunk, you’re faced with a selection of taps from which to draw a choice of two fantastic whiskies. Away from this very cool touch, the dark underground venue also has a selection of over 250 bottles of whisky categorised by taste. If you’re hungry then don’t worry, either, as there’s whisky appropriate foods to soak up the alcohol, including veggie haggis and scotch eggs. So Don’t delay, get whisky-d away today!
Tooting has been declared one of the top ten places to live in the world by Lonely Planet and we wonder if it was Little Bar that swung it for the South London Northern Line outpost. Little Bar is, you’ll be surprised to hear, may be somewhat diminutive, but it punches well above its weight. The decor is bare brick cool and the food is tapas and there’s a wide selection of beers.
Vive la France! Or, if that’s a little too far, then definitely Vive La Coupette! This little Bethnal Green bar is a great find, a French inspired bar specialising in Calverdos, French cidre and Armanac. With nods to the little bar’s French roots, the counter top is decorated in 10 centimes pieces and the staff are consummately knowledgeable on all things French, this is the perfect French experience this side of la manche. The drinks, and the food, really shine and you can experience drinks often overlooked in the UK, like poire. The French bar snacks are also worth a try.
Signature Cocktails: “Apples”, featuring calvados and house-made sparkling apple juice and “Truffled White Negroni”
The Holborn Dining Room, in the newly self-styled region of ‘Midtown’ London, may be a brasserie not to be missed, but look a bit further and you’ll find a gin bar that it would simply be a crime to pass over! The copper topped bar is a delight to both look at, and partake in. And it’s no wonder, with London’s largest collection of gins, over 500, and over 30 selections of tonic then you would have to work through 14,000 pairings to try everything on offer. Which is a challenge we’d like to take up, please…
Staffed by a bevy of Mixologist Wallahs and Tea Wallahs, The Imperial Durbar is an imperial time warp transporting drinkers back to The Raj with a selection of fantastical drinks, from chai to cocktails. The small Tooting bar is decorated with an eclectic series of mementos harking back to the times when the sun didn’t set on the British Empire. The drinks menu includes classics from yesteryear, and the bar has hooked up with the Indian restaurant next door to do a pretty decent line in ‘tiffin’ too! Fit for a Maharajah!
Signature Cocktail: Definitely try their range of spiced cocktails
Descend into a world of sculduggery and post-war intrigue at Cahoots, the 1940s themed bar in Kingly Court. Decorated as a tube station immediately after the Second World War you need to beat the racketeers and spivs to enjoy a drink of black-market cocktails and drinks in this fabulous drinking den. Accompanied by the soundtrack of the era with live swing and jazz this is a spiffing place to avoid rationing and join in the fun.
Signature Cocktail: Tanqueray No.TEN Station Clock, it serves 8 and COMES IN A CLOCK!
Part houseparty, part restaurant/supper club, part bar and part trespassing in someone else’s flat, The Little Yellow Door is as bizarre as it is brilliant. Set up like a typical London house this place is unlike nearly anywhere else, except perhaps your mates’ place. Aiming to recreate the perfect houseparty the team behind the bar have put together something really quite special that needs to be seen. Sadly, it’s not BYOB!
Describing itself at a ‘Punk Gin Palace’ The London Cocktail club is loud, brash and fun. Decorated with in-your-face graffiti, there’s nothing sniffy about the London Cocktail Club’s approach to cocktails, but there’s a lot of expertise on hand to create you the perfect cocktail. Or don’t even go to the bar, you can ‘phone in’ your order from your table!
Signature Cocktail: Try out the Won Ton Bomb, which includes Jager Red Bull jelly and tabasco
Set within the Langham Hotel Artesian has been named ‘The World’s Best Bar’ for four consecutive years by Drinks International Magazine. Don’t take their word for it, go down to Portland Place to check out London’s largest collection of rums or sample one of their world-beating cocktails. As you would expect from The Langham the surroundings are opulent, but with a quirky twist. Bar snacks, too, are lavish, created in consultation with Michel Roux Jr.
Signature Cocktail: “Camoflage”, a mix of Tanqueray 10, carrot, Americano, kombucha and sandalwood
Based below The Bloomsbury hotel, The Bloomsbury Club Bar is inspired by the golden age of the cocktails – the 1920s and 1930s. Cocktails are named after literary greats such as Virginia Woolf and others belonging to the Bloomsbury Set; whilst the inside of the bar has a distinctive library feel to it. With its twinkling lights, cosy corners and jazz, outside has date night written all over it.
If you like cognacs then The Library Bar at The Lanesborough is where you need to head – they have bottles dating back to the 1770s. Besides cognac, the team have taken classic cocktails and reimagined them, take the St George’s Negroni which is topped with rooibos ice cubes and popping candy. With the feeling of a private members club, the bar is warm and intimate, the sort of place to settle into for a winters evening and set the world to rights.