Dry Martini? Cosmopolitan? Three types of rum, a dash of elderflower, pineapple juice topped with a lavender foam? Or perhaps you just want a happy hour mojito?
No matter what your tipple, London has a cocktail bar to quench your thirst. Next time your tastebuds are asking for something more than just a pint or a glass of vino, head to one of our favourite cocktail haunts for a drink with a bit of pizzazz. These are what we think are some of the best cocktail bars in London – but don’t take our word for it, go and try them for yourselves.
Step into a wonderful world of childlike make-believe and fantasy – The Looking Glass will add whimsy and joy to your night on the town. Their newly launched Wonderland cocktail menu (which is more like a story than a menu) takes you on a trip through the looking glass in a time when the White Queen took over the throne and into a magical speakeasy like world of adventure and cocktails.
The cocktail book stars drinks like The White Rabbit (tastes "just like carrots") The Order of the Chrysanthemum, and Drink Me, Eat Me (a fresh take on the classic Bloody Mary) the drinks feature homemade bitters and syrups and designed by Bar Manager, Michele Reina - each drink corresponding to a character in the book. With sharing cocktails, homemade sugar-free vermouth and a selection of over 40 bitters, you won't be dissapointed!
The bar also hosts music nights characterised by "deep underground, funk and vocal sounds" that add to the den like atmosphere. There's a room at the back perfect for large crowds or big bookings.
Address: 49 Hackney Road, Shoreditch, London, E2 7NX
Phone: 020 7613 3936
Please note: there is no alcohol sold on the premises of Bring Your Own Cocktail (BYOC.) What? That makes no sense. However, the reality of it is beautiful – bring your own unopened bottle of spirits and hand it over to the talented mixologists of BYOC. They will supply the mixers, syrups, egg whites and foams to transform that bottle of vodka into an amazing array of elixirs.
The best part is that the cocktails are free – you simply pay £20 per head for two hours at a table to be served as many cocktails as your bottle will deliver. Dark, candle-lit bar is styled with 1920s cool and both the Camden Town and Covent Garden locations have significant waiting lists for its tables. Book now.
Address: BYOC Covent Garden
28 Bedfordbury, Covent Garden, London, WC2N 4BJ
Phone: 0207 240 7810
BYOC Camden Town
9-11 Basement Camden High Street, London NW1 7JE
Phone: 07436 794 965
Bring your most adventurous taste buds to the Nightjar where you will sample some very unique flavour combinations. The drinks menu is divided into eras – pre-Prohibition, prohibition and post-war – or you can select one of the Nightjar signatures. Every drink is mixed with style and you can sip your chosen drink while listening to the smooth tunes of the live jazz bands that play nightly.
Address: 129 City Road, London, EC1V 1JB
For the coolest cocktail club in Soho, don your trendiest evening wear and head to the sophisticated world of Milk and Honey. Open to non-members until 11pm, this desirable drinking den is the place to come if you want to be seen sipping a champagne cocktail or perhaps a quality Armagnac. Membership to Milk and Honey is £400, which gives you the honour of staying until 3am every night and you can visit the New York venue as well. This place is so sought after, they don’t list their address on their website, but luckily we know where they live.
Address: 61 Poland St, London W1F 7NU
Describing itself as ‘the perfect mix of spirit and sophistication’ Dirty Martini a hub of cool vibes, great tunes and some excellent cocktails. While martinis take pride of place on this bar’s menu, their mixologists concoct a wide range of fantastic cocktails, plus there is a great selection of beers and wines. With five locations throughout London, choose a Dirty Martini for a reliably good night out.
158 Bishopsgate, London, EC2M 4LN
11/12 Russell Street , Covent Garden, London, WC2B 5HZ
10c Hanover Square , London, W1S 1JH
1 Lovat Lane , Off Eastcheap, London, EC3R 8DT
130 Wood St, London, EC2V 6DL
If gin is your thing, don’t go past the London Gin Club where you can choose from over 130 types of gin. Located in the heart of Soho, this bar offers table service with a smile and prides itself on serving one of London’s best gin and tonics. For those wanting to sample something a bit different, go for one of the gin tasting menus – they change regularly so you are guaranteed to sample something you haven’t tried before.
Address: 22 Great Chapel Street, Soho, London, W1F 8FR
Phone: 0207 4942488
This bar is so cool that it technically has no name. Everyone knows it by its address – and clearly they do know about it and it is the place to be seen as it is very difficult to get a seat without booking in advance. The cocktail menu changes seasonally, as does the beautifully presented tapas style food. Visit on a Thursday or Friday to listen to the fabulous tunes of their in-house pianist, Maurice Horhut.
Address: 69 Colebrooke Row, London, N1 8AA
Phone: 07540 528 593
Located in a small Georgian townhouse hotel, this boutique bar is cosy and eclectic with one of the most unusual mixes of country-manse style furniture. The cocktail menu is created by Tony Conigliaro (from 69 Colebrook Row) and is a selection of flavoursome yet tasteful drinks. Choose from the menu of beautifully crafted share plates or you can choose to dine at the Zetter’s French bistro. If you really love the place, why leave? You could stay in one of their 13 luxury rooms.
Address: 49-50 St John's Square , London, EC1V 4JJ
Phone: 020 7324 4545
Speakeasies are all the rage with the hip kids of London, and the Mayor of Scaredy-Cat Town is another dimly-lit bar hidden behind secret doors in Spitalfields. We particularly like the quirky cocktail names of this joint – choose from the Basil-no-Faulty, Mazcallywagg, Me-Ouch or really make it a night to remember with a Berlusconi. The beer menu is also better than most cocktail bars so everyone’s happy.
Address: 12-16 Artillery Lane, London, E1 7LS
Phone: 020 7078 9639
Located in the centre of Shoreditch, Callooh Callay is a welcome landmark in a not-so-attractive part of London. An intriguing mix of Lewis Carroll and 90s mixtapes brings an element of confusion to this bar but try one of their drinks and you’ll be able to look past the décor. Divided into three rooms, you can walk straight in for a drink at the bar, or book a table in the Lounge. The upstairs bar is available for private hire and is the perfect location for a birthday gathering or Christmas do.
Address: 65 Rivington Street, London, EC2A 3AY
Phone: 020 7739 4781
Mark Hix is one of the coolest characters in town and with three locations spread across the city, Mark’s Bars are some of the hippest in London. You’ll feel like you have arrived in New York and are mingling with the elite as you sip a seriously tasty cocktail while reclined on a chesterfield. Head to the Soho and Hixter bars for a game of billiards and what they describe as “historical” cocktails. Let’s just face it – Mark is one cool character and drinking at his bar is the closest we will get to be him.
SOHO – HIX, 66-70 Brewer Street, W1F 9UP
Phone: 020 7292 3518
CITY – Hixter, 9a Devonshire Square EC2M 4AE
Phone: 020 7220 9498
BANKSIDE – 16 Great Guildford Street, SE1 0HS
Phone: 020 7921 9508
Now for something a little bit different – get your rave on and hit Dalston Superstore, famous for one of the best dance floors in London. Upstairs you will find the ramshackle bar serving a simple yet reliable selection of cocktails plus a large range of ales. You can fill your belly with a hearty burger or salad before things get real and you begin your night of dancing to some of London’s hottest underground DJs.
Address: 117 Kingsland High Street, London, E8 2PB
Phone: 0207 254 2273
Don’t worry – this is not a Goth bar and you can come here on days other than Halloween. Satan’s Whiskers is a cocktail of gin, orange and vermouth and this bar’s cocktail knowledge stems far beyond this. Their drinks are unpretentious but delicious and the hip-hop vibe makes a change from the cool alternative music played in so many bars across London.
Address: 343 Cambridge Heath Road , London , E2 9RA
Phone: 020 7739 8362
For something a bit more relaxed and casual, try the Ridley Road Market Bar. A hodge-podge of market stall, DIY store and daggy disco, this is the sort of bar where you’ll unexpectedly bump into someone you know. Their cocktail menu is short but cheap and served in plastic cups without flair or extravagance. You can grab something to eat from the street-food vendors who set up outside. What more could you want?
Address: 49 Ridley Rd , London , E8 2NP
If you’re in London and want cocktails it only makes sense to go to the London Cocktail Club. There are five bars throughout London, each with their own theme and style. Our personal favourites are the Shaftesbury Avenue Tattoo Rum Parlour and the new Grease Monkey Garage in Shoreditch. You can buy a custom cocktail – watch it being made, drink the results and receive a framed photograph of your concoction. The perfect gift for the love of your life or perhaps just yourself – but at £100 a pop, that’s one fancy drink.
Main Image Credit:We The Food Snobs