It's true - the term 'legend' is banded around way too much, but not in the case of Nightjar. Perfecting an irresistible set-up of innovative and beautiful cocktails tied in with a dazzling programme of live music, this wonderful cocktail bar just shy of Old Street continues to win awards on the world stage. A must feature on any discerning drinker's bucket list.
Best Bars in London 2020
Think of this list as something of a love letter to some of the very best bars, watering holes and hidden cocktail haunts in the city. With amazing new drinking dens opening across London on a weekly basis, we’ve drawn up this shortlist of only the biggest and best places in town, from the weird and wonderful to the world renowned. Read on for DesignMyNight’s complete guide to the best bars in London and get to know the city on an epic, liquid level.
With views over St Paul's Cathedral, a sun-trap terrace and an extensive Champagne list, Madison is a hot rooftop to spend a summer's evening on. Head to the swanky spot for a casual drink and stay for dinner as they offer up fresh seafood and a delicious mix of cocktails.
Aviary is yet another hit from the ETM group, only this time they've gone sky high. Expect all the deliciousness of their previous venues, with sumptuous cocktails and British seasonal plates, only this time they come with a healthy dose of City views and chilled-out-terrace vibes.
Step behind the velvet curtain and take a trip back into the decadent throws of London's Victorian Bath House. Visits made by appointment only, this is an exclusive place to eat and drink in London where you'll experience the finest mixlogy matched with the most incredible plates all in a luxurious setting in Bishopsgate.
68 & Boston brings a simple, unfussy approach to drinking in Soho. Located just moments from theatreland in one of the most sought after districts in London, the ground floor wine bar brings high quality bottles of wine to the fore; available at a flat £20 per bottle. Upstairs is where the focus shifts to mixology, with classic and original tipples served up from 5pm alongside a tasty menu of bar snack bites.
So bear with us a little here; darts is actually really, really fun. Flight Club have breathed a completely fresh lease of life into this age-old classic of a pub game, welcoming you to their super-stylish oches to play interactive games with live-scoring and lots of impressive technology. You game? Good, bring your squad along to Shoreditch or Bloomsbury for lots of competitive socialising, pizzas and drinks!
Nestled in the heart of Shoreditch, Callooh Callay is a quirky, cocktail favourite, where talented bartenders mix up some of the most imaginative cocktails in London. Filled with plush furnitures, decadent colourways and moody lighting this bar packs a punchy atmosphere with plenty of bar areas to mooch around and even some secrets to discover....shh.
LCC is a powerhouse of quirky cocktails and rowdy nights in Shoreditch. One of the best bars in London if you're looking for unadulterated, cocktail-fuelled mayhem, check out this dive bar for off-kilter cocktail creations and a playlist of nothin' but feel-good, sing-along classics. More suited to lively all-nighters than cosy date nights, don't be surprised to find yourself up on the bartop dancing the night away.
The Piano Works is a warehouse space of jazz inspired jubilance where the piano takes centre stage and the entertainment comes from requests made by yours truly. Set in a Victorian listed building, this place is a fusion of industrial underground and classic music. Sit down, stand up, sing, dance and drink at this place.
This literally hidden gem is a chic cocktail bar and dim sum parlour in the heart of Chinatown. If you're lucky enough to find the inconspicuous green door and get in then you'll be able to experience three floors of delicious Asian cocktails and food. With a cool, trendy following this bar is sure to impress and make for a big night out with their late night opening hours.
London has no shortage of cool cocktail venues and eccentric mixologists, but perhaps none more so than those at Purl who take experimental cocktails to a whole new level. This quirky, underground hotspot, complete with cosy alcoves and even a piano, transports you back to a time gone by, into a world filled with different tastes and fragrances, to give you a cocktail experience like no other.
Oriole is an oasis of mystery and magic that transports you to a disconnected outside world. Sister site to the multi-award winning Nightjar, this is a truly vibrant bar of exotic influence and global design. Settle in and explore a cocktail menu comprised of exotic ingredients, take in some live jazz tunes and pick at a food menu offering spices and seasonings gathered from far and near.
The second Bounce site in London brings more of the same playful ping-pong antics to a buzzing location close to Old Street. With 17 tables (including one used for the World Championships Final in Tokyo), there's no better place to get down to some serious competitive socialising with your mates, with cocktails and delicious Italian food to keep you on top form.
If you're all for award-winning drinks, Coupette are serving them. A humble and romantic spot in Bethnal Green, this is a cocktail bar not only made for date nights, but made for those looking to try cocktails with real flair in the city.
After live music, food and cocktails in Shoreditch? Old Street Records throws its hat into the ring with a cutting-edge approach to live music across its two floors. Take in EP launches, new bands and established acts alike in a record-store setting, or make for the intimate basement below where jazz nights and DJ sessions are usually held.
An eclectic literary theme provides an unusual backdrop for cocktails at this popular Clerkenwell watering hole. Hand-crafted pizzas are on call if you're peckish, if not go straight to the cocktail section where a handbook of unique drinks awaits. Bartenders throw house-infused spirits, liqueurs, syrups and bitters together to create masterful cocktails well worth checking out.
Futuristic and playful features reign supreme in The Sanderson Hotel Long Bar. Simply overflowing with style and glamour, pull up an eye emblazoned seat and watch the hypnotising craft of the bar experts as they whip up a delectable drink for you to sip on whilst absorbing the electric atmosphere. Alluding to the feel of an 'urban spa' this is one bar to sit back and relax in.
This late night cocktail bar in King's Cross whips up unbeatable cocktails served in mismatched teacups. How quaint! With old-styled decor mixed with a glittery skull head disco ball this place has fun-house vibes aplenty and is the perfect venue for a feel-good fun night out. Expect dessert cocktails, great music, a fun crowd and retro sweets. There is no place like Simmons.
A real north London gem, Homeboy is the Upper Street bar bringing a slice of Ireland to the city. Whether you're a lover of all things whiskey, can't resist a decent pink of Guinness or fancy trying out some traditional bites, this is the place for it.
This is a city cocktail bar with class and style in abundance. Situated beneath The Arbitrager, make yourself at home in these plush, low-lit surroundings and enjoy a few signature cocktails after a long toil in the office. Open weekdays from 5pm til late, ease into a few drinks on a school night before catching the last train home; Demon, Wise & Partners is just a stone's throw from Bank and Liverpool Street.
An underground haven that's good whether you're in need of cocktails, beers, wines or Vietnamese street food, Ruby's is one of the hidden treasures of east London. Prop up the bar for seasonal and innovative drinks or go to the Lounge for something a bit more lively; it's here that the focus is on a wide selection of wines, beers and a carefully curated programme of live music and events.
Mini-motor racing, on-site brewing, immersive team gaming; The Four Thieves really does have it all. A wonderfully buzzing all-rounder that you'll find in Battersea, start with a drink or two in their year-round gin garden before checking in at their enormous games room; packed out with vintage arcade games, ping-pong tables, pool and an impossibly fun sceletrics-styled game in the corner. One of the most fun places for a night out in London.
Crazy Bear is a mish-mashed marvel of random, statement seating, cool features and plush surfaces. From the very first moment you step in you will be impressed with the decor, ambiance and delicious drinks served up. With intimate nooks to book with friends and a buzzing atmosphere, this is an elegant yet bold drinking den with Japanese and Thai cuisine offerings.
Brought to you by the team behind Lima, The Lost Alpaca is a basement bar dedicated to pisco. Whether you're a fan of the Latin American spirit or just fancy a proper cocktail and small plates in vibrant surroundings, you won't be disappointed.
It's cool, it's cute and it serves damn delicious cocktails; Bourne and Hollingsworth in Fitzrovia is one of our favourite basement bars in London. Head to the central venue to flop in an armchair, soak up chilled-out vibes and work your way through an inventive cocktail list.
Seek out this hidden gem in the East End and you'll immediately reap your rewards. Apples & Pears serves up fantastic and innovative cocktails in an energetic setting, evoking an infectious atmosphere that rivals some of London's top Prohibition plots. The eclectic music programme ensures there's always something to keep your toes tapping.
There's quite simply nothing else like Aeronaut in London. Backed up by a consistent stream of 5* reviews (seriously, there's loads of 'em), as well as the DMN public's 'Best All In One Venue' of 2015, this Acton venue turns your standard pub experience upside down. Go for wholesome pub grub and beers brewed on site, with scintillating circus shows that break out into DJ and dancing sessions at the weekend.
Famed for bringing a South American party spirit to the streets of London, Barrio is a party bar in Shoreditch where the good times roll. Amigo Hour serves up £5 cocktails between 4 and 8pm, there's a menu of tacos and nachos if you need a bite to eat and a bustling dancefloor to throw shapes on 'til the early hours.
DSD is one of the most cutesy and unique venues to check out in London. Found just out of harm's way from the main hubbub of King's Cross, this place is charming in everything it does. Head along for cake and cocktails during the day or throw yourself into activities like Lego Robots and Beyonce-themed dance classes. After you've got your 'Do' fix, make for a mighty party in the ex-porn shop basement club.
Not only does Adam Handling cook up a mean dish, but he's got the drinks to match. Nestled below his eponymous Covent Garden restaurant, Eve is the subterranean spot serving up impressive drinks and mouthwatering small plates in the most intimate of settings.
What to do with the former home of Reverend JW Simpson of the Parish of Fitzrovia? Turn it into a bar of course! The spot which was occupied into 1986 is a flash back to the past and still features many quirky bits and bobs; on top of all this, their cocktail list is full of seasonal tipples.
Hoxley and Porter's quirky train-carriage theme is interspersed with retro-chic finishes to the colours of turquoise and teak. The extravagant decor provides a stylish place to sit and sample some of the tasty British menu classics and creative cocktails. Conjuring a modern Oriental edge to its interior, this bar is exotic from drinks to food to feel.
Found in the heart of Hackney, The Last Tuesday Society is a cocktail bar for lovers of all things weird and wonderful. Quirky interiors are dotted with Instagrammable decor (think plush seating and taxidermy) while absinthe and curious concoctions keep you watered.
Black Rock is one of the best bars in London by combining a love of whisky with a cool, minimalist and contemporary drinking space. They offer over 250 bottles of whisky, making it an ideal place for any connoisseurs out there, and their centrepiece of an 18ft, 185-year-old oak tree trunk used as an interactive cocktail ageing system is a something to behold.