One of the best events in the city this autumn, London Cocktail Week marks its return by turning into London Cocktail Month! Working with some of the best bars in the capital, they'll be offering signature £6 drinks for all wristband wearers.
Cool and Quirky Bars in London
This beaut of a city is fortunate enough to host several of the most unique, weird and wonderful bars in world, ranging from secret speakeasy dens and bars in toilets to rooftop palaces. Whether it's taxidermy or immersive experiences, fire-spitting bartenders or just the downright outrageous - you're spoiled for choice in the capital. So in no particular order (because hey, what's life without a little surprise), here are the best cool and quirky bars in London.
Prepare to don an orange jumpsuit as you become an inmate at these immersive cocktail bars in central and east London. Inspired by America's infamous prison and the Hollywood movies surrounding it, Alcotraz creates tailored cocktails based on your liquor and tastes - just make sure the warden doesn't catch you!
Throwing it back to 1920s Havana, join the fun-loving crew at the notorious Burlock as they churn out rum cocktails in a quirky London setting for the party hardy. Throwback? You bet.
One of Chelsea's most sought after bar experiences, hidden away in the Chelsea Funhouse you'll find The Bletchley - a fully-immersive cocktail bar and a World War Two-inspired escape room. And if that doesn't take your fancy? There's also a stunning journey-inspired restaurant and late-night cocktail lounge paying homage to all things espresso martini.
Sister site to the mighty Nightjar speakeasy, Oriole is a sumptuous space of global influence and exotic design in Smithfield Market. Come for luscious cocktails made up of tastes and flavours from all corners of the globe, equally tasty bites to eat and a live music schedule which spans everything from Cuban Son to West Coast African blues.
Taking residence in Victorian listed basement, The Piano Works is the revival of the loud and vibrant live music bars, where you can dance and party to the sound of a 6 piece band playing your song requests. Taking on a vintage style speakeasy, this House of Song is one of the best hidden gems London has to offer.
With four venues across the city, there's no better NYC-inspired spot to find yourself in than Dirty Bones. From a slick range of delcious American comfort eats, to quirky cocktails to wash them down with, there's a great time guaranteed at any one of these fun London bars.
Inspired by the Wild West, this immersive cocktail bar is one of a kind. Try your hand at card games and solve clues, in the heart of East London. Make sure you've smuggled in your choice of tipple which expert bartenders use to create personalised cocktails based on your own choices and tastes.
From retro wares which include old-fashioned maps and an incredible plant-ridden conservatory, Powder Keg Diplomacy is a vintage watering hole in South London. The Clapham spot serves up delicious cocktails mixed with everything from Earl Grey tea to citrus fruits, there's also a hearty menu if you're peckish.
Contrary to what George Michael says, drinks at this Covent Garden bar are not free. The team behind this bar certainly haven't gone in half-hearted. The venue's full of 500 bird decorations, a lagoon pool-style dance floor, a dazzling selection of colourful flowers and a handful of cabanas spread throughout. With various beach-grill inspired dishes, over 50 cocktails on the menu and some of the city's biggest DJs on the decks, it marries the right amount of quirk with all the things we love about a themed night out in London.
Hop Kingdom is a unique venue in Southwark that acts as a skate park, bar and live music venue. Whether you're looking to book a birthday party, gig, exhibition bands, photo shoots, or anything else that springs to mind, the space is adaptable to any and all occasions.
East London is home to the capital's cool and quirky bars, but it is yet to have one dedicated to the creation of The Gibson. That was, until now, as expert mixologists have been experimenting with the Edwardian recipe to create a cocktail list perfect for the dark, intimate and extravagant Clerkenwell venue.
Modelled on the activity of a 1920s speakeasy, head to this illicit underground haven for a taste of unrivalled vintage glamour. A venue showcasing beautiful performers in full burlesque, come for dinner and a show, with an extensive list of wines and classic cocktails served at the bar of this dazzling burlesque experience in the city.
Ping pong bars are all the rage in London right now, and few do it better than Bounce. A buzzing underground spot made for eating, drinking and playing ping-pong late into the night, the tables here can fit up to 20, and the table service policy means you won't have to ditch your area when ordering in the delicious pizza or a few gin-based cocktails.
Opium is a great London speakeasy style cocktail bar. They deliver seasonal Oriental themed cocktails, in a discrete and decadent setting. Widely considered one of London's best bars, Opium is a cool and quirky London cocktail bar hidden among the bustling streets of China Town.
A characterful den lined with an extensive choice of gins, kooky artworks and a snug basement space, Ask For Janice is a popular Farringdon local. Serving brekky and your morning coffee early doors, the venue lays on a choice of locally produced fare throughout the day and offers a livelier vibe later. A must try for any gin aficionado.
Prohibition parties. There's plenty going round, but only a select few come out firing on all cylinders like the Candlelight Club. They'll keep details hush-hush for as long as possible, but we're allowed to tell you that there will be bespoke cocktails, vintage DJs and live jazz bands summoning up the spirit of the 20s long into the night. Braces, fedoras, flapper dresses and feather headdresses are a must!
Peckham Levels' quirkiest bar is Near & Far, a kitsch retro haven with an import/export theme. Come inside and you'll enjoy cocktails and bar snacks created with both locally sourced ingredients and exotic imports, and you can enjoy all this while soaking up the panoramic views of London.
Crazy Bear Fitzrovia is not only one of the best cocktail bars in London but also provides an extremely decadent venue to indulge in a romantic meal. Once you've swept down the luxurious red velvet staircase, you will be dining amongst the sound of chatter and clinking crystal cocktail glasses.
One-hundred-and-eiiiiighty! Flight Club in Shoreditch and Bloomsbury breathes a new lease of life into the UK's favourite pub game, welcoming you into their beautifully designed oches to play interactive and creative games. Throw in some real-time scoring (there's not a chalk board in sight), awesome gameplay animations and a dash of competitive spirit and you've got hours of unadulterated fun at one of the most unique bars in London.
This quirky bar in West London is set to be flat party central outside of your own flat, with fantastic drinks, the coolest vibes, and even delicious, international food for you to tuck into. Expect mischievous mayhem when you visit.
An ideal pitstop whether you're in need of cocktails, beers, wine or food, Ruby's is one of East London's true treasures. Consistently rated as one of the best basement bars in town, head to this Dalston favourite if your idea of a good night features innovative drinks served in an intimate atmosphere. There's also a lovely lounge area to explore, serving a wider choice of beers, wines and Vietnamese street food on the side of a curated programme of live music and events.
The Four Thieves in Battersea has everything you need for a trip to the boozer. From more than 70 gins, a microbrewery on site and enough craft beer to keep you drinking the week's woes away, the fun doesn't stop there. Head upstairs for an incredible games room, filled with car racing, ping pong and virtual reality.
This space-aged bar cum VR arcade is the perfect East London spot for a quirky date or special night out. Strap in and be teleported to an alternative reality, with 16 gaming options, before heading to the bar for a range of futuristic-themed drinks.
The third venue of its kind, Old Street Records brings cutting-edge live music to the masses in the heart of Shoreditch. Head along on any given night and expect to see EP launches, new bands or established acts taking the stage, with intimate jazz nights and DJ sessions usually focused in the basement. It's not exclusively about the music though, with bespoke cocktails and authentic Italian pizzas also well worth checking out.
Found right around the corner from Tower Bridge, Simmons brings affordable drinks to their small but perfectly formed cocktail bar. Featuring quirky decorations (there's an enormous dinosaur's head, for crying out loud) and a friendly ambience, make sure you're in between 4 and 9pm on weekdays if you want to take full advantage of their famous happy hour discounts.
Boasting a DJ booth tucked inside of a vintage piano, cocktails served out of the finest of China, and luxurious seating arrangements, the Arts Theatre Club is certainly in the upper echelon of cool and quirky bars in London. This members-only, Soho speakeasy acts as the perfect, Prohibition-era getaway amidst the modern day hustle and bustle of the city.
There are multi-sensory drinking experiences, and then there is Purl. A speakeasy-styled drinking den located in the heart of Marylebone, the venue's pioneering approach to their cocktails involves utilising aroma, fogs, foams and liquid nitrogen to bring each and every drink to life. Make yourself comfy and indulge in one of these luscious libations – just remember the password for entry (Hair Of The Dog).
Hidden within Merchant House of Bow Lane, this secret bar can be booked for a few hours, where you'll have your own music, a personal bartender and even be able to make your own drinks.
Megaro is charming and characterful cocktail bar, sitting below the bustling streets of Kings Cross. 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. If that wasn't enticing enough, the cinema-style seating and elegant portraits hanging on the walls add a bit of edge and quirk.
Radiant with intimacy and tiki flair, it almost seems a shame to lift the lid on this secretive basement bar on Portobello Road. Head inside to uncover a world of exotic drinks, kooky interiors and delightful Dim Sum bites. It's an ideal spot for a date or a catch up with your mate, and cocktails like the Banzai '45, Mr Yellow Belly and Dia De Los Muertos will have you back time and again.
Cirque brings all of the fun of the circus to Old Street. A kooky little space filled with rubix cube stools, zebra taxidermy and dangling airplane models, there's a lot of charm and character to this bustling cocktail bar. Drinks are a tad on the steep side, so it's worth timing your visit to fit with happy hour, where cocktails are 2 for £10 between 4 and 8pm.
With its deep multi-coloured armchairs, bright wall art and list of original and delicious cocktails, Bourne & Hollingsworth is a seriously cool and quirky bar in Central London. The venue has space for 60 people and is perfect for everything from after-work drinks through to birthday party spots.
Killer cocktails, a cracking bar team, a cool as hell Hells Angels atmosphere and a thriving Shoreditch location. Yep, LCC Shoreditch is good to go for a memorable night out in east London. Come in, get comfy on the black leather couches and work your way to the bottom of an expertly mixed drink. Not sure what you fancy? The 'Smoking Barrel' should get you started just right. You're welcome.
Giving it some serious welly in the quirky department is hidden Peckham gem, The Four Quarters. A stand out name on the bars with games scene, not only do they provide top entertainment in the shape of retro games, consoles and arcade machines, there's American bites, cocktails and a secret speakeasy bar in the basement.
Undoubtedly a cool place to drink in London, 68 and Boston is a Soho favourite for vintage wine labels and expert mixology. With decor fitting some suave '70s leanings and colonial vibes this cocktail turn wine bar is a top destination for date night drinks, intimate gatherings and any who consider themselves a connoisseur of concoctions.
Step off the cobbled streets of East London and into this multiple award-winning cocktail bar permeated by a wonderfully eccentric vibe. This Alice In Wonderland themed retreat serves up their famously refreshing and punchy cocktails to an eclectic crowd who are enticed in by the weird and wacky décor. Keep your eyes peeled for the wardrobe that leads to a clandestine dining space and try an alcoholic slushie at the charismatic upstairs bar.
Draped with wicker masks, brass icons and even featuring giant maypoles (Maypole Dancing actively encouraged), Hand of Glory boasts an interior design to behold. Grab one of their rotating 'deadly ciders', sample some home-infused gin and gorge on a plate of fresh, lovingly prepared pub grub.
The Bourne and Hollingsworth Buildings is a quaint bar in North London, based just a short stroll from Angel tube station. With a sleek bar serving all the signature cocktails that have made the B&H name famous over the years, the venue's idyllic greenhouse and airy cafe offer prime spots to unwind in with mates. Soak up all the vintage and carefree vibes at this quirky bar in London.
The Alchemist have quickly built up a reputation for being one of the UK's most exciting bars, serving unique creations from the heart of Old Street that fizz, change colour and come to life right before your eyes. Head to East London this summer to experience the theatrics for yourself.
Cool? Yes. Quirky? Oh most definitely. Expect cocktails, science lab coats and plenty of detention-worthy behaviour at The Schoolhouse. Serving up food from brunch through to dinner and inventive cocktails till late, we sure as hell hope Ofsted don't cotton onto this one.
Soho's suavest secret, hidden below ground level and coated in Parisian chic, is the perfect quirky hangout for you and your trendiest of friends. Nestle into the plushest of leather armchairs and admire your sophisticated surrounds as you taste cocktails mixed by the gods and nosh on the divine of the dinners. You'll never want to leave and, with a late night license, you won't have to for a long while.
Brewpub and circus Big Top all rolled into one Aeronaut space. Fans of the most extravagant and wowing shows of all time, Aeronaut's quirk comes in the form of the amazing circus performances they showcase. Second to this comes their title of Brewpub bringing East End distilery traditions to the West. Hosting a plethora of entertainment nights including swing dancing classes, live music sets, DJs and ariel acrobats, Aeronaut definitely satisfies that quest for something cool and quirky.
Colourful, imaginative and let's face it, a little weird - Adventure Bar Clapham Junction is anything but your average bar. Based within the home of a wacky time traveller, you can expect a Victorian-cum-futuristic decor, peculiar art and plenty of conversation-starting oddities. Quirky cocktails and damn fine nosh await.