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.
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.
Throw it back to 1920s Havana and join the fun-loving crew at the notorious Burlock as they churn out rum cocktails in a quirky London setting for the party hardy. Located just moments from Oxford Street, this is one for a fun night out in the West End.
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.
Step off the cobbled streets of East London and into this multi-award-winning cocktail bar permeated by a wonderfully eccentric vibe. Expect punchy cocktails and an eclectic crowd, as well as a hidden bar that you'll find if you venture upstairs.
Aeronaut's quirk comes in the form of the amazing circus performances they showcase. Hosting a whole host of entertainment including swing dancing classes, live music sets, DJs and themed brunches, Aeronaut definitely satisfies that quest for something cool and quirky in Acton.
Based on the HQ of the secret society that ran Victorian London, The Escapologist is part Victorian men's club, part Masonic Lodge; a totally unique drinking den based on the shady exploits of the infamous Baron. Head this way for sharing cocktails and cheese-drenched pizzas in one of the most eye-catching basement bars in town.
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.
Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Bat, how I wonder what you're at. Borrowing its name from the Mad Hatter's poem, Little Bat is a quirky neighbourhood cocktail bar featuring plenty of Wonderland-themed influences. Expect a playful and imaginative ambience complemented by superb cocktails at Callooh Callay's sister site.
Killer cocktails, a cracking bar team and a thriving Shoreditch location... Yep, LCC 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.
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.
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.
Megaro is charming and characterful cocktail bar, sitting below the bustling streets of King's Cross. The venue's expert mixologists have really let their creative side shine, curating a menu of signature creations and spirit infusion. If that wasn't enticing enough, the cinema-style seating and portraits add a bit of quirk.
BYOC Camden is not your average cocktail den; for starters it has an amazing 1920s theme, complete with vintage blackjack tables and roulette, and secondly, you are expected to bring your own bottle of spirit for bartenders to whip into masterpieces.
Swingers is a bar like no other, bringing two 9-hole crazy golf courses, alongside three street food vendors, five cocktail bars and a two-storey clubhouse all for you to hang out in. From date nights to activities with mates, you won't go bored here.
Head north where this fun tiki bar whips up some of the finest cocktails on Upper Street. Most come laced with bespoke rum and fresh ingredients, but if you're looking to kick things up a notch then head to their upstairs Rum Club and try your hand at mixing your own rum.
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 hustle and bustle of the city.
Spread across two floors, Bobby Fitzpatrick is a quirky 70s den of vintage wallpaper, kitsch sofas and signed photographs. There's board games and a quirky cocktail list inspired by Fitzpatrick's great loves, as well as brunch and American deep dish pizzas.
So much more than your average bar, this quirky spot in Tottenham houses a full roller skating rink for when you're looking to get a little active on your next night out. Round up your mates and prepare for diner bites and a skating sesh at this cool North London space.
Get to know some of our city's coolest and quirkiest bars with a little help from London Cocktail Week. For just £15 a wristband, you'll get access to over 250 establishments serving discounted drinks from 1st - 31st October, as well as some amazing events held by the venues themselves.
Inspired by party animal Josephine Bonaparte, Tonight Josephine is a kitsch and fun bar. Our top choice for a girls night out in London, this Instagrammable spot boasts a cracking cocktail menu, as well as neon signs, glittery cocktails and celebrity mugshots.
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.
The Exhibit is Balham's all-in-one social destination. Come for a majestic cocktail or get stuck in at the dinner table, and don't forget they love a big party come Friday Night. There's comedy at the weekends, life drawing classes, art exhibitions and the chance to catch a film in London's smallest independent cinema space.
A characterful den complete with gin, kooky artwork 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.
Combining neon lights, late night karaoke and a cosy and intimate setting, this arty LGBTQ+ friendly bar celebrates creativity and diversity in East London. With delicious drinks and after-party vibes, Village 512 makes for a cool regular haunt.
We Londoners think we've seen everything, but then a bar like Black Rock comes around and puts an 18ft, 185-year-old oak tree trunk in the middle of the bar and we're shocked all over again. The tree trunk acts as an interactive cocktail ageing system, that you can use on their over 250 bottles of different whiskies on display for your pleasure.
Gigi's is an eccentric London DJ bar, live music venue and restaurant in the heart of Hoxton Square. Shoreditch clubbing, dining and drinking can all be enjoyed in this bar's bold and beautiful interiors making it one of the best London late night bars without a doubt.
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.
Opium is a great London speakeasy-style cocktail bar. The bar team deliver themed cocktails, in a discrete and decadent setting. Widely considered one of London's best bars, Opium is a cool and quirky London spot hidden among the bustling streets of Chinatown.
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.
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. It's worth timing your visit to fit with happy hour, where cocktails are just 2 for £10.
Wacky interiors, pretty cocktails and party tunes are all on the menu at Blame Gloria, a cool South London bar and late-night spot. Whether you fancy some happy hour drinks or a wild night of dancing with mates, this Clapham den is ready and waiting to play ball.
Hidden below ground level and coated in Parisian chic, this is the perfect hangout for you and your trendiest of friends. Nestle into plush leather armchairs and admire your sophisticated surroundings as you taste cocktails mixed by the gods and nosh on inventive desserts at Basement Sate.
A hidden treasure marrying inventive cocktails with an eclectic music programme, you don't go forgetting a trip to Apples & Pears in a hurry. The venue's radiant atmosphere makes it perfect for date night or stopping by after work, and with a medley of live acoustic acts and animated DJ nights, we challenge you not to find yourself tapping those toes deep into the night.
Powering up in London Bridge is one unique bar concept from the minds behind Flight Club. Electric Shuffle is a unique technological spin on the classic pastime, with cocktails and boozy brunches at the heart of their sites in London Bridge and Canary Wharf.
One-hundred-and-eiiiiighty! Flight Club breaths a new lease of life into the UK's favourite pub game, welcoming you into their beautifully designed oches to play interactive games. Throw in some real-time scoring (there's not a chalk board in sight) and a dash of competitive spirit and you've got hours of unadulterated fun at one of the most unique bars in London.
Using cutting edge technology, Puttshack has taken mini golf to the next level. Head to this quirky bar in Shepherds Bush and prepare to get your golf on with cocktails, craft beer and an international menu to keep you fuelled.
There's more than a hint of West London suave about this basement bolthole. It's found beneath the Arbitrager, offering a relaxed yet refined atmosphere to the city's after-work crowd. Cross this one off your 'must-visit' list and you'll soon be enjoying a daring and innovative list of signature drinks in one of the hot-to-trot basement bars in London.
The Courtesan is a cool South London bar that welcomes discerning diners and drinkers to sample unusual cocktails and traditional dim sum sharing plates. Settle down with a drink in the gilded Birdcage Bar or get ready for a late night burlesque performance as you wine and dine.
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.
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.