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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This gorgeous Soho restaurant has got the drink credentials to match the food as they've employed cocktail supremo The Talented Mr Fox. The mixology master has put his mark on the list with drinks inspired by the famous faces of Soho; we recommend the Karl Marx, a boozy mix of vodkas, honey, and beer.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Get your fix of delicious drinks at 30 of the capital's chicest hidden bars, all for just £7 a piece, with a ticket to London Cocktail Week. Hit up Homeboy, Opium, Callooh Callay or one of the many other places taking part for a fun seven days of tipples
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This slinky French hideaway in Bethnal Green was recently named as one of the world's best bars, so you know they've got plenty of tricks up their sleeves when it comes to cocktail creation. An evening here will consist of sipping elegant concoctions, paired perfectly with enticing cheeses and charcuterie.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Don't let this Farringdon gem's cool credentials fool you; along with being laid back, it's also one of the best cocktail bars in London. Themed around the 70s and 80s, Coin Laundry is filled with retro touches, including pinball machines and gorgeous tiling, but it's the rose negroni that gets our vote.
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.