Hidden in the depths of Smithfield Market, Oriole is a den of tropical libations and swinging live music. Inspired by the Pacific, drinks are served in stunning vessels (think shells and elephant-shaped mugs) and are mixed with everything from peanut butter through to banana loaf infusion.
Best Cocktail Bars in London
Not your normal negroni - no, sir - London's best cocktail bars take things to the next level when it comes to mastering mixology. From billows of dry ice through to clouds of smoke, these spots make drinking an art form. Whether you're looking to party, get a bit rowdy with friends, or after a perfect date night drink, we've got the best cocktail bars in London right here.
You're going to need an appointment to get into this luxe little Liverpool Street hideaway. Tucked down some stone steps, a decadent cocktail bar awaits, decorated in gorgeous, golden tiles and velvet furnishings. Grab one of the classic concoctions and take your date night to the next level at this Grade-II listed spot.
Mews Cocktail Bar have joined forces with drinks master Richard Woods to create a classy list that plays on classics. We recommend The Mayfair Tart, a seductive mix of vodka, fresh raspberries, ginger, honey and lime.
The Mai Tai was perfected in 1944 and Trader Vic's is still bringing that gold standard to London to this day. Set in Mayfair, this cocktail bar is a party lair, with weekends marked by sparklers, sharing buckets and a banging playlist.
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.
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, the bar swings to life over the weekend with a regular roster of live music in their basement room.
If you like your London cocktail bars dark, moody and underground, then Demon, Wise & Partners is the place for you. The City bar has 'date night' stamped all over it, with dark leather booths, low-hanging lights, and drinks such as Naked in the Snow, a simple mix of whisky, homemade apple spiced tonic and soda.
Named after a popular mix from the Victorian era, Purl clashes old with new. Tucked away in a Marylebone basement, the space uses inventive and quirky methods when it comes to cocktails, from dry ice through to ice cream infused.
Sure, it might be named after one cocktail, but this Old Street haunt is an incredible lair of crafted drinks. The work of a former Nightjar bartender, The Gibson creates some of the wackiest tipples in London - from dried worms to rare spirits.
A stalwart on the Shoreditch drinking scene, Callooh Callay has been churning out award-winning drinks for more than 10 years. Split into two, the venue has a chilled, 70s-style seating downstairs, while upstairs, the secret Jub Jub room awaits.
With old movie starlets on the walls and copper tones throughout, Megaro Bar is the sort of place that will keep you sipping for hours. And what to sip? Their Prohibition-inspired list of classics is always a good place to start.
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.
Fitz's is a truly unique drinking den that boasts an old school glamour unmatched by any other bar in London. From its lavish furnishings to the expertly-curated menu of high-end cocktails, it's a perfect date night or celebratory location.
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.
Step back to the 1920s with this cocktail bar, hidden behind a plain black door. Once you've slammed the knocker, head in for a decadent watering hole filled with impressive features such as a giant block of ice from which cocktails are created, and red leather furnishings.
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.
With several diverse spaces, 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.
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. What this spot really excels at, however, is Japanese whisky, of which they have London's largest collection.
Favouring the intense and the opulent; The Last Tuesday Society are all about celebrating the strange. In terms of cocktails, this means heady flavours like bitters, chocolate and orange peel. The basement bar is a fabulously shadowy hang out in which to enjoy some hedonistic treasures. Upstairs, a palace of intrigue awaits!
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.
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.
The cocktails aren't your average tipples at Reverend JW Simpson's, 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 floor plan and many of his touches.
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.
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, specialises in all things quirky, with patched armchairs, colourful wallpaper and tipples that break the mould.
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.
Head to the tropics of North London where Laki Kane bring you vibrant interiors and exciting drinks. Eschewing refined sugar, their cocktails keep things fun and organic, while their upstairs Rum Club lets you try your hand at making your very own take on the spirit.
The perfect excuse to dust off some World War Two fancy dress, The Bletchley is an immersive bar experience that will have you playing codebreaker. Solve the puzzles and have your results converted into a stunning cocktail made by their expert bar team.
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.
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.
Don't be fooled by the name; Disrepute is one of London's best cocktail bars. The Soho basement bar has lived one hell of a life, including as the setting for the Profumo Scandal in the 60s. Now, it's just as slinky, with short, sharp concoctions served to punters on long leather sofas.
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 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 connoisseur and like to dabble in fresh, unique tastes then Hide Bar is best.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, with drinks created using ingredients from nearby Borough Markets for some extra zing.
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.
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.
Inspired by Christmas monsters, Batch is one of Peckham's most interesting - and prettiest - cocktail bars. Fir tree branches are strapped to the ceiling, walls are painted with magical murals, and the inventive cocktails largely come in at under a tenner.
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, and if you're peckish - it's part of the award-winning Frog.
Forget sneaking a little hip flask of something when times are hard, BYOC in Camden actively encourage you to bring your own alcohol in. The underground bar is themed around 1920s prohibition, with guests sitting around poker-style tables, in the middle of which is your expert mixologist.
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.
London cocktail bars don't get quirkier than this. Hidden behind shutters is a secret prison, where bribery and contraband rule, Alcotraz is one hell of a drinking experience. 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.
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.
Not only are the illustrated interiors at Upper House something to muse over, their cocktail list is a London treasure. A North London cocktail bar with talent and tact, Upper House whips up classic cocktails and quirky favourites in a truly unique London townhouse.