Best Cocktail Bars in London
London not only serves some of the best cocktails in the world, but the bars themselves have also become works of art. From flaming creations and themed dens to swanky mixology havens and flairing shows, this here city is full of them. But where exactly are the best cocktail bars in London? In the name of research, we've sipped high and low to bring you a selection of the finest; and here they are.
Last updated on 10th May 2018
Billed as “an oasis of warmth, mystery and magic”, Oriole takes you on a journey to a disconnected outside world. It’s the sister site to the multi award-winning Nightjar so high standards are to be expected; cocktails are laced with ingredients from all corners of the globe and plates are made up using the finest spices and seasonings from near and far. Still not swayed? Oriole rounds things off with an exceptional live music programme, with daily jazz, swing and blues tunes to look forward to.
Fronting a bar well versed in the art of fine mixology, now is your chance to venture behind the velvet ropes and into the decadent overthrows of the Victorian Bath House. With visits made by appointment only, this has to be one of the coolest cocktail bars in London where you can sink into some Victorian inspired luxury whilst supping on libations.
Not only are the illustrated interiors at Dolls House Islington something to muse over, their cocktail list is a London treasure. A North London cocktail bar with talent and tact, Dolls House Islington whips up classic cocktails and quirky favourites in a truly unique London townhouse.
It would be impossible to cite the best cocktail bars in London without mentioning the famously elusive Nightjar Bar in Shoreditch. Candle-lit tables, experimental (and extremely creative) cocktails and a genuine speakeasy feel come as standard here.
An international award winning bar based in Bethnal Green, this incredible cocktail haunt is inspired by the culture and history of New Orleans. Promising delicious Cajun and Creole food, an authentically-inspired drinks list and a cool-as-you-like ambience, Nola is housed in Georgian-era building on Roman Road.
Offering a relaxed and refined atmosphere completely at odds with the frenetic nature of the city, Demon, Wise & Partners rightly takes it’s place as one of the best bars in London. Hiding away beneath The Arbitrager and the city’s towering skyscrapers, track this place down and enjoy an easygoing night of exceptional cocktails, beers, wines and spirits.
Discretely hidden in the heart of China Town, Opium delivers seasonal Oriental themed cocktails, using ingredients sourced locally in Chinatown. Widely considered one of London's best bars (and arguably London's best Oriental cocktail bar), Opium is the perfect place for unique and stunning cocktails in a beautiful setting.
London has its fair share of cocktail bars, but it is lacking one specific type: a venue specialising in The Gibson. With bartenders at the helm with a very steep mixology heritage, The Gibson plans to repopularise the almost forgotten mix in this quirky East London haunt.
Frequently popping up in lists of the best cocktail bars around, including Best Cocktail Menu 2014 at The DesignMyNight Awards, Callooh Callay is easily one of the best spots for cocktails in London. With an eclectic, comic book style list of extraordinary cocktails, and an ever changing menu of wonderfully original names, Kilner Me Softly being a personal favourite, Callooh Callay is a must for any wannabe cocktail aficionado.
Farringdon’s laid-back neighbourhood bar serves comfort food and 70s-inspired cocktails in a welcoming atmosphere. Take a chance on the Blind Date, with its pleasingly sweet mix of infused brandy, lemon, sugar and egg white, or indulge in a luxurious taste of the White Chocolate & Raspberry Bellini if you like the sound of chocolate and raspberry coulis mixed in with prosecco and lemon.
Goat DRINK is a blend of Kensington class and New York charm bringing you a selection of tried and tested experimental cocktail creations reviving forgotten classics with modern, signature twists added. Their death in the afternoon is a cocktail recipe delivering just what it says on the tin with a cheeky splash of absinthe to warm your cockles!
Dirty Martini is a well-established name in the cocktail world. With a smattering of venues all over London, their mixologists have mastered a number of classic recipes and really let their creativity take control, producing an array of intriguing concoctions for adventurous revellers to enjoy. Try their Dirty Martini Bishopsgate and Dirty Martini St Pauls bars for more!
The cocktails aren't your average tipples at Reverend JW Simpsons, no, they're libations of forages and seasonal ingredients compiled in new and exciting ways. To top things off this basement bar is completely unique with its design, as the former home of a reverend it still features the original floorplan and many of his touches.
Taking its inspiration from the 1920s Havana heydays, Burlock features a selection of more than 200 different types of rum at its cosy set-up in the heart of Mayfair. The rum cocktails are matched by a selection of Cuban and Caribbean food to complete the experience, and the unique happy hour here runs from open until close - so there’s no need to spend big while you’re at it.
Megaro is a basement bar in Kings Cross that's created a reputation for itself thanks to its stunning cocktail menu and quirky decor. The venue's expert mixologists have really let their creative side shine, curating a menu of signature creations and spirit infusion. Why not try the Borsh Mary cocktail, created using the venue's very own homemade hot sauce.
For a cocktail bar with a spicy kick, slip into stylish Indian-inspired cocktail bar, Anise. Their extensive cocktail menu deviates from the norm with some indulgent spices and popular Indian flavours, such as coriander, cardamom and chat masala. The elegant purple glow and candle-lit booths of the decadent drinking den attracts a discerning clientele to match its stylish cocktails and modern Indian bar snacks.
With several diverse space, Hush in Mayfair has everything you need for a night out. Head to their Aviator bar for a night of Pan Am themed fun as bartenders whip up delicious cocktails at this award-winning spot.
A treasure of a King’s Cross cafe, cocktail bar and late night dancing spot, Drink Shop Do carries an awesome list of cocktails fronting an impressive gin selection. Grab a stiff drink and enjoy one of their weekday 'Do's (we’re talking Lego Robots and Musical Bingo) or get started on a big night on the tiles at the weekend; there’s drinking and dancing until 2am.
Offering bold and imaginative cocktails, cosy date night vibes and some of the friendliest service in town, Little Bat is an absolute must if you’re looking for something special around Angel’s Upper Street. A venture brought to London from the same team at Callooh Callay, expect Alice in Wonderland themed quirks and chilled out vibes from this welcoming new neighbourhood haunt.
A refined level of supping awaits as one of the best cocktail bars in Mayfair plays host to a truly unique selection of drinks. A hidden endeavour known for its high-end beverages, expect cocktail theatrics, molecular treats and the best service that cocktails can buy in a truly charming Central London setting.
Boasting two wildly experimental yet undoubtedly delicious cocktail lists, The Four Sisters in Islington is easily one of the best cocktail bars in London. Serving up their own tasty interpretation on classic blends, alongside a selection of unique homemade infusions, the cocktails at The Four Sisters are nothing short of perfection, mixed with high quality spirits, fresh ingredients and under the expert hand of their in-house mixologists.
What do you get when you combine gorgeously bright interiors with an original drinks list? Bourne and Hollingsworth in Fitzrovia, a quirky spot in Central London, the bar specialises in all things quirky, with patched armchairs, colourful wallpaper and tipples that break the mould.
Disrepute is definitely one of the best cocktail bars in London thanks to its wonderful cocktails, fabulous interior and enviable atmosphere. If you want to sip delicious mixed drinks in amazing company, you are in the right place.
Horatio Street Social Club is one of the best cocktail bars in London, boasting a delicious cocktail list curated by their expert mixologists-cum-owners. Both alumni of Callooh Callay, they have extensive knowledge of their craft, and this comes across in the drinks. Meanwhile, at this underground bar you can enjoy a beautiful bar with one of the best atmospheres around.
Fronting an eclectic design that celebrates the literary history of Clerkenwell, this enticing bar is famous for its home-made cocktails. House-infused spirit, liqueurs, syrups and bitters are thrown together with great skill, creating a celebrated menu you just gotta see. Try the Much Ado About Rum and don’t forget there’s hand-crafted pizzas to soak up the booze.
Found yourself chilling in Balham with some spare time to kill? Well thank goodness for that, as one of South London’s leading cocktail bars is waiting for you to discover it. Pop into Lost & Found where a rich spread of mixed drinks awaits, with live music and a bustling fun-time atmosphere in support. Come between 5 and 8pm for happy hour, and bag yourself a free sharing cocktail if you book a table for over 8 guests.
For a seriously trendy Clerkenwell cocktail bar be sure to stop by 1920's. There's a great range of cocktails to sample - try the refreshing Dolce & Campari, the vodka and caramelised apple infused Apple Crumble, or the Queen Bee - a perfect blend of Jim Beam, Cointreau pineapple and lemon juice. What's more, everything on the list comes your way for just £8.50.
Earth didn't start with Adam and Eve, it started with dessert and cocktails. Heralded for their sweet treats, not only is Basement Sate the front runner for desserts in the city, their cocktails are a sweet smasher too. From their bespoke, speakeasy inspired setting to their hand-made cocktails, this is a neat treat not to be missed.
Looking Glass Cocktail Club has to be one of the best cocktail bars in East London... and all of London, in fact. Incredibly unique cocktails, mesmerising decor and a magical atmosphere make Looking Glass Cocktail Club a real treat for cocktail lovers in the capital.
A quirky haven made for late night boozing and discerning cocktails, The Natural Philosopher is also one of Hackney’s best hidden gems. It’s tucked away behind the facade of a vintage-styled Mac repair shop, impressing with its mix of antique trinkets, raw brickwork and a unique sunken bar area. Head along and enjoy beautifully crafted cocktails in a cool space lit-up by oil lamps.
The team behind The London Cocktail Club are something of legends in the capital's cocktail scene. Their Monument bar is inspired by Britain's most prestigious tailors from the 1970s and features a number of subtle references to artists like Paul Smith and Vivien Westwood. From rotating animal mannequins, all dressed in fresh threads, to pinstripe furniture, this cool and quirky bar is perfect for your next big night out.
Purl is one of London's most imaginative cocktail bars; think nitrogen gas and delicious aromas in the air. With a name derived from an Old English tipple made from gin and ale, Purl sets itself up for unusual drinks and that's exactly what you get.
Created by the successful group behind the Nightjar, Swift is a cocktail bar that's forever changed the way we think of a 'quick drink' between events. Using an arsenal of international spirits, fruits and spices, and promising a quick turn around for each drink, the expert team of mixologists serve both classic and inventive cocktails to its guests. Despite being standing only upstairs, guests can take a load off and unwind in the venue's cosy underground bar.
Barrio is a party group of bars that comes bursting with Latina energy. Shaking up exotic cocktails that go hard on the rum and tequila front, these neighbourhood joints blend Latin flair with fresh cooking and great music. Come for their renowned Amigo Hours, when cocktails are £5, bottled beers are £3 and there’s a fiver off your bottle of wine. Try their Barrio Angel or Barrio Shoreditch branches for more!
The fifth instalment of the London Cocktail Club family is up there with our favourites. Come in, soak up the biker-themed ambience and prepare to make some big decisions at the bar. Cocktails like the ‘Confessions of a Cucumber Salesman’, ‘Brixton Riot’ and ‘Smoking Barrel’ are every shade of delicious, each mixed with the style and substance that makes LCC such a fan favourite.
Perfect for anyone that's bored of brushing elbows and awkwardly bumping into people at packed out bars, The Basement Shoreditch is a venue that combines expertly-made cocktails with attentive hosting and an unbeatable music playlist. Head down, grab a hand-crafted cocktail and watch the hours float by at this fun Old Street spot.
Head over to Camden's BYOC to find a secret drinking den of luscious libations and expert mixology. The bar is a den of 1920s revelries and will let you bring your own bottle of spirit to be whipped into something delicious.
Named as one of the best bars in London, Aviator Bar in Hush is a 60s swinging den. Expect sumptuous furniture, neon signs, a gorgeous colour scheme and out of this world cocktails.
A Farringdon location popular for its house-infused spirits and bespoke cocktails, Barsmith offers among the best value for money around. Cocktails start at £7.95, but come before 10pm and you can pick up 2-4-1. Happy Hour and lasts all day on Saturdays. There’s an ever-evolving list of craft beers, and delicious Neapolitan thin crust pizzas if you fancy a bite to eat.
They may be one of the best locations for dinner in Shoreditch, but did you know that Jones Family Project were also coming up trumps for cocktails too? Infusions of lavendar, bitters, global spirits and fruit reign supreme as JFP's master mixologists whip up a frenzy of tailored cocktails, hand-made concoctions and blissful treats.
A hidden gem of a London cocktail bar located beneath the Botanist Broadgate, the Soda Room is a sleek hideaway promising good music, cool interiors and excellent cocktails. Head over for a buzzing vibe and affordable-but-interesting cocktails, Monday through to Saturday.
Black Rock isn’t just about serving up whisky straight. With over 250 bottles on display and a commitment to delivering the best blends, they’ve even roped in an 18ft, 185-year-old oak tree trunk that acts as both an interactive cocktail ageing system and a spectacular centrepiece.
Based in Farringdon, Le Bar is a sleek and opulent restaurant bar that couples stunning drinks with seasonal frapas (French tapas) dishes. The restaurant was opened by the same masterminds at the Michelin-starred restaurant Club Gascon and will recreate recipes and flavours from South West France. Best of all, each cocktail created by the experts behind the bar perfectly complement the flavours of every dish served by the kitchen.
This intimate drinking den claims that the “creation and execution of exceptional drinks is our passion”, and who are we to argue? Pop a couple of Hell in the Pacific’s down the hatch and it’ll be hard to counter this claim, and they’re pretty darn serious about the quality of their Dim Sum plates too. A must for all rum aficionados, there’s also soothing DJ sets to enjoy at the end of the week.
Batch is bringing a completely new style to your cocktail drinking; head to Peckham to find this pop-up that's inspired by mythical Christmas monsters, with only the finest spirits used.
Stoke Newington may not be the first place some people think of when it comes to London's best cocktail bars, but they'd be surprised. Hidden and charming, head on down to Victory Mansion for an experience that comes with small plates and cocktails combined.
Tucked away amidst the stately grandeur of the London Edition Hotel is The Punch Room, an exclusive, reservations only drinking den. Come in and get cosy, the oak panelling and majestic sofas evoke a nineteenth century private club feel. A playlist of vintage soul and blues fills the room, while guests enjoy gin-infused punches laced with jasmine tea and oak moss.
Cheap cocktails = substandard quality, right? Wrong. The guys at Simmons offer plenty of delightful options at happily affordable rates. Catch them between happy hour (4-9pm, weekdays) and get two for a tenner, or one of their signature cocktail teapots for just £15. There’s a good choice of wine and beer too, all enjoyed in the comfort of a small but perfectly formed space.
The Karma Sanctum Soho Hotel should be on your list of rooftop restaurants. Their kitchen serves creative and responsibly-sourced dishes, with meat from the best butchers in the city and produce from fresh suppliers, meaning you can hang out in either the covered lounge bar or the inside bar area in style.
London cocktail bars don’t get quirkier than this. Hidden behind shutters is a secret prison, where bribery and contraband rule. You’ll have to smuggle your favourite liquor past the guards and get into the hands of one of the other inmates, who can mix you up something grand. But don’t, under any circumstances, get caught.
The oldest bar on this list, the iconic Portobello Star has been open since a stonking 1740. And by god have they progressed with the times; delicious cocktails paired with homemade fare are the order of the day here. Gin lovers, this one is definitely for you.
Combining the charm of Victorian squalor, with the elegance of grand Gin palaces, The Worship Street Whistling Shop redefines cocktails within the capital. Worship Street Whistling Shop offers up a fantastic Dram Shop for bookings of up to 8 people, where you get your own little shop to drink in and a cupboard packed full of bottles of cocktails for you to sample.
Imitated by many yet matched by very few, Ruby’s is an absolute gem of a basement bar worth stumbling across in Dalston. The main bar area puts the focus on a seasonal menu of innovative drinks, with table service and an intimate atmosphere well suited to all occasions. The Lounge is the livelier space of the two, with a wide choice of beers, wines from Clapton’s Verden and Vietnamese street food from the Hanoi Kitchen on offer alongside a curated programme of music and live entertainment.
Fresh from a summer residency atop Oval Space's terrace bar, Behind This Wall is a secret little cocktail den that's setting up permanent shop in Hackney. Serving vibrant cocktails that showcase the finest produce of Britain's small batch distilleries, the venue's simple decor clashes nicely with the explosive taste of every drink. Simple yet elegant, this bar never disappoints.
With celeb mugshots, neon signs and bright pink decor, Tonight Josephine will grab you from the moment you descend into the basement. Along with gorgeous interiors, they also have a delicious selection of cocktails.
The illusive Moonshine Saloon is popping up for a few says a week to bring you a rootin tootin good time. Discover their secret bar for a night of cowboys, moonshine, cocktails and sheriffs breathing down your neck.
Industry heavyweights Eric Yu, Luca Cordiglieri and Martin Malley have come together to unveil 68 Boston, a refined drinking spot bringing a specialist blend of wine and cocktails to Soho. Make for the cocktail bar upstairs after work, where expertly-made classics are served alongside cutting-edge originals in an intimate, low-lit space.
Eclipse South Kensington is a classy cocktail bar that was made famous in Barcelona for its famous 'eclipse' watermelon martini, and it's not hard to see why. And alongside this there's a whole arsenal of other indulgent cocktails to its name, you'll be more than spoilt for choice, and then maybe a late night boogie? No problem, head downstairs to a club full of fun-loving party goers strutting their stuff and letting down their hair to the best of House music until the early hours of the morning.
Taking an underground former public conveniences and transforming it into a space of art deco cool and cocktail lounging, the Bermondsey Arts Club is as unique as they come. The bar is where the magic of mixology happens, creating tailored cocktails of the freshest ingredients and innovation. Experience some liquor laced satisfaction in one of London's under the radar creative haunts.
If you love all things whiskey, you might want to head below Blues Kitchen Shoreditch, where you’ll find American bar snacks, a soundtrack by female-fronted RnB singers, and an amazing selection of whiskey-based cocktails.
The Ten Bells is a pillar of Spitalfields boozing, but have you discovered their secret cocktail bar upstairs yet? Under the trusted guidance of renowned head bartender Jerome Slesinski, a talented bar team whip up signature shorty cocktails made with home-infused spirits and a flourish of class. Vintage Chesterfields, mis-matched tables and iconic artworks contribute to the chic ambience.
Hide Bar prides itself on the expression of mixology, taking the cocktail as an art form and looking into its history to develop their craft. You'll find an intimate industrial styled space with a seated only policy making for an intimate cocktail lounge in London. If you fancy yourself as a bit of a cocktail connoissuer or like to dabble in fresh, unique tastes then Hide Bar is best.
From the Parlour to the Decantery, Six Storeys in Soho is a twisty turny vintage bar with six floors on which to have fun. Join in with gin drinking, cocktail sipping and nibbling across the laid-back and seductive venue.
Simmons boast some of the most quirky cocktail spots in London. Step inside to discover intimate spaces adorned with all sorts of unusual ornamentation... and the cocktails are equally eccentric. Have your long island iced tea served up in a teapot as you spend the night mingling with a crowd of partygoers. Try their Camden and Fitzrovia branches for more quirky cocktail cavorting.
Owing to some of the most innovate mixology in the business, WM Barker & Co has done well to preserve its secretive nature being nestled under Bishopsgate. Their bar is well versed in the art of manipulating unusual ingredients to create drinks that are ultimately original and stylish. That paired with its old world style interiors makes this place one cool cocktail bar in London.
Purple bar is a stunning and impressive cocktail bar with a fantastic reputation in London. The cocktail list focuses on the age-old classic, the Martini. There are few places in London likely to deliver a more expertly prepared cocktails than Purple bar.
Graphic bar is a spectacular cocktail bar a mere two-minute walk from Piccadilly Circus, Carnaby Street and Regent Street. Renowned for its amazing drinks, this place is perfect for cocktail connoisseurs. It also has a huge selection of gins to choose from, with more than 180 varieties.
Fusing swing music with live jazz bands, Kansas Smitty's is a taste of the good cocktail life in London. Not only host to some of the best Juleps in the business, Kansas Smitty's turns into a roarer on the weekend, boasting the broody basement of good old fashioned jazz clubs in London
This sexy retreat off Exmouth Market is more than a little notorious. A scandal since the early 1900s, come here for burlesque dancers, musicians, performers and excellent cocktails till the early hours of the morning.
Styled as a cosy cafe during the day and a bustling cocktail bar at night, Map Maison is a characterful, colourful spot that's always adapting and changing itself to suit the demands of East London's revellers. The team of expert mixologists, armed with a collection of strange ingredients, fresh fruit liqueurs, flavoursome punches and international spirits, mix and flair together an impressive range of fun concoctions that are sure to leave a lasting impression on you. Grab a strong drink, relax and see where the night takes you at this fun-loving bar.
Make your way down to The Drinking Den, found below the streets of Brick Lane and Eurasian small plates restaurant Hopscotch. At this speakeasy, their drinking philosophy is all about great cocktails made from great booze.
Super secret and only accessible through a fridge door (no, really) if you want to visit the Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town's basement cocktail bar, you're going to have to ask nicely. Head to The Breakfast Club in Shoreditch for a bite to eat beforehand - and if he lets you in - enjoy the Mayor's varied range of quirky and classic cocktails.
Eve has enough delicious cocktails to tempt, well, Eve in the Garden of Eden. A bar built on the ideas of indulgence and hedonism, come here for theatrical cocktails served in luxurious surroundings.
Paying homage to Sax Rohmer with an inspired cocktail list, not only can you indulge in hand-made treats in a unique archway enviroment, Fu Manchu are heralded for their party atmosphere with plenty of DJs and dancing to go around.
Spread across two floors, Scout in East London is changing the way cocktails are made. The venue uses seasonal products to create an ever-changing menu as well as implementing a 'no waste' policy in their use of ingredients.
Nobu isn’t just known for their fantastic array of world-renowned Japanese food. They also boast an excellent selection of signature cocktails, available from the stunning bar area. You can also enjoy these in their gorgeous, intimate outside space.
Run by the masterminds behind the White Lyan in Shoreditch, the Dandelyan is a new hotel cocktail based in Southwark. Sittingt on the ground floor of the Mondrian Hotel, the bar is elegantly decorated and serves stunning, carefully crafted cocktails to all its guests. The drinks menu is split into a number of subsections, named 'cereal', 'vegetal', 'mineral' and 'floral', and each is created using only the freshest fruits available in London.
Fronting mean mixology from world class bartenders and exuding the charm and austerity of a classic Americana watering hole, Cartizze Bar is a staple for creative cocktails and atmospheric drinking. Nestled in Mayfair you'll find crystal-cut glassware, leather textures and a chrome framed bar where you can perch and sup to your liquor loving hearts content.
Fire and Stone is famous in London's foodie scene thanks to its selection of hearty burgers and wide-range of delicious pizzas. To complete the deal, the team behind the venue serve a variety of summer cocktails and summer jugs, ranging from the traditional pitcher of Pimms to a jug of Strawberry Frozé.
With interiors carved from the pristine waterways of the Torne River in Sweden, Ice Bar is the UK’s only permanently frozen cocktail bar. Kit up in thermal capes and gloves and get ready for something spectacular; chilled drinks are served in these unique surroundings in 40-minute time slots. Bring that body temp back to normal with a meal of modern British fare in the stylish restaurant afterwards.
Have you Found it yet? Nope, didn't think so. Meander along the streets of Shoreditch and hidden beneath Casita on Ravey Street you should find a secret hideaway where some of London's best mixologists like to mingle in low lighting. Take up a seat at the bar or in one of the cosy rooms and experience a truly intimate cocktail bar in London.