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 23rd February 2017
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.
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.
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 Shoreditch, this incredible cocktail haunt is inspired by the culture and history of New Orleans. Promising a cigar terrace, an authentically-inspired drinks list and a cool-as-you-like ambience, Nola is hidden away above Bedroom Bar on Rivington Street.
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.
Having perfected the making of the Mai Tai in 1944, Trader Vic's is a stalwart on the cocktail scene in London. Renowned for their tropical inspired tipples, taste one of this City's most original Mai Tai blends and be transported straight to an island of Polynesian party vibes. Their Tiki game is strong here - beware.
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.
If you were seeking an absolute gem of a cocktail bar down south, we’ve found your perfect fit. Three Six Six is a wonderfully warm and relaxed place to slope in after work and unwind. Every element of your drink - from the syrups to the garnishes and oils to the extracts - is hand-made, with more than one hundred spirits lining the shelves and sixty cocktails in the ranks.
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.
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.
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 Clapham and Dirty Martini St Pauls bars for more!
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.
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.
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.
A wonderful cocktail bar in London with speakeasy vibes located beneath an Italian restaurant called Antico. Dim lighting, exposed brick work and a wonderful array of spirits, especially Gin, make this a a great choice for cocktails in London.
Keep Tonic & Remedy up your sleeve for those particularly long and stressful days at the office. This is a lovely little spot to rejuvenate and lift those spirits, with a classy mixology team using all kinds of sweet, savoury and bitter ingredients to create a perfect balance of flavours. It’s a contemporary take on the classic apothecary in one of the most eye-catching buildings in Shoreditch.
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.
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!
Bang slap in the middle of London's party capital, Shoreditch, this livewire venue is a haze of polished woods, bright fluorescents and comfy booths for those intimate occasions. With the most innovative of cocktails blended with only the freshest ingredients, this place is a great shout for those boozy beverages.
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.
There’s no ice, no fruit and no bottled brands at White Lyan. Nope, they’re interested only in hand-crafting each and every drink using their own Mr Lyan spirits and fresh ingredients. Picking a favourite is no easy task, but their ‘Moby Dick Sazerac’ or ‘Beeswax Old Fashioned’ would be a good place to start.
A sassy South American plot with antics and a tequila-heavy menu, this cocktail bar in Putney is a homage to all things colourful and cocktails. While you can dabble in burritos and plough your way through nachos, their cocktail menu is a must-try of treats the likes of The Scorpion and Escobar’s Secret.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Housed in a former launderette on Homerton’s Well Street, Machine No. 3 is a kooky little spot catering to east London’s cocktail needs. Raw brickwork, low-lighting and original washing machine covers creates a quirky vibe, as guests line up those Smoky Tommy and Black Feather signatures after a hard day at the office. This is a friendly neighbourhood spot, with DJs and dancing until 1am come the weekend.
An independent neighbourhood cocktail bar in Clapham Junction, Rise 46 is all about the 1920's glitz and glam. Expect live music and a friendly buzz accompanied by quirky tipples in this charming, if not intimate, vintage London bar. Cocktails served with retro sweets? Oh why not.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A delicious dim sum location with slap-up drinks to boot, this cocktail bar in Clapham celebrates all things ornamental and oriental. Paying homage to Sax Rohmer with an inspired cocktail list, not only can you indulge in hand-made treats in a unique archway enviroment, there's dim sum to boot.
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
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.
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!
Swell in the sights, sounds and flavours of Japan as Kouzu boasts some of the most upmarket beverages in the business. A stunning cocktail bar in central London with sophisticated flavours and even more sophisticated guests on its side, Kouzu is a treasure of tasty, if somewhat swanky, tipples.
Located above the Fulham's Goat DRINK, The Chelsea Prayer Room is a secret speakeasy style bar that serves cocktails in London using only unbranded spirits - how mysterious!
Buddha Bar is a subterranean den of creative mixology, Pan-Asian cuisine and avant-garde interiors. Doused in Oriental mystique, this Kensington lair oozes luxuriant style where artisan is the name of the game, East meets West and DJs bring the party vibes late into the night. Sup on tailored tipples and dine in elegance here.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A plush cocktail bar in Mayfair, The Met Bar is a noted destination for those looking for more upmarket drinks in the city. Heralded for their sophisticated interiors, unique selection of bespoke cocktails and upmarket charm, The Met Bar is a special space for those after truly unique drinks 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, creating tailored cocktails of the freshest ingredients and innovation. Experience some liquor laced satisfaction in one of London's under the radar creative haunts.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A hub for inventive craft cocktails and Mexican street food, Viva brings something vibrant and eclectic to the Dalston strip. Stumble across this Stoke Newington Road retreat where you’ll find exceptionally talented mixologists pushing the boundaries as they create different and unique drinks with a Latin influence. The cocktails and food menus change every 3 months or so to keep things fresh and interesting.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ray's bar is cocktail bar in East London that's taken the phrase 'liquid dinner' to a completely different level. The cocktail menu is broken up into starters, main courses and desserts. Think prosecco cocktails to start, followed by a rum main course and a sugary sherry dessert drink. And if things get a bit too hazy, guests can also enjoy a slice of pizza, courtesy of the experts upstairs.