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The Best Bars in London: The Dilettante’s Guide to Where to Drink in London Right Now

The Best Bars in London: The Dilettante’s Guide to Where to Drink in London Right Now

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Looking for the best bars in London? Don’t miss this guide – London’s best drinking spots, area by area.

I hate to come across like a braggy-mc-braggface but if there’s one eternal truth, it’s that London knows how to do a good bar. 

Scrap that – it knows how to do an absolutely amazing bar….

You know, the kind that you pop in for a quick one with a friend and end up drinking your way through a large portion of the menu, spending your life savings and waking up with a sore head, fuzzy mouth and fond memories the morning after. 

Drinking my way around the best bars in London is something of a personal forte – from Farringdon to Covent Garden, Shoreditch to Soho and London Bridge, I’ve written so many neighbourhood bar guides that it made sense to do the big one: the best bars in London. 

The bar is high (pun intended), but these are the places where you can always find a delicious drink, stellar service and the kind of atmosphere that puts you at ease. 

Just remember to eat dinner first.

PS – looking for spots with outdoor areas? Check out my guide The Best Outdoors Bars in London.

 

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Best Bars in Central London 

Disrepute 

Disrepute Soho

Soho

My pick of the ever-popular Soho cocktail scene is the glamorous Disrepute. Tucked down a laneway in the heart of Soho, it’s a cocktail lovers’ dream.

The setting is elegant yet unpretentious, while the cocktails are mixed to perfection. 

It’s technically a member’s bar, but walk-ins are welcome.

Address: 4 Kingly Court, Soho W1F 9RR


Upstairs at Rules 

Rules

Covent Garden

Hidden away atop one of London’s oldest and best-respected restaurants, Upstairs at Rules is a serious delight.

The decor here looks a little like stepping into a glasshouse, and then the ah-may-zing cocktail list is the stuff your dreams are made of. It’s straight up one of the prettiest places in London.l

Don’t miss this one if you’re looking for nice bars in central London – she’s pretty fabulous.

Address: 34-35 Maiden Lane, Covent Garden, London WC2E 7LB


Experimental Cocktail Club 

Experimental Cocktail Club

Chinatown

Fair warning: it’s not easy to find this speakeasy-themed bar tucked away in Chinatown. Once you do though – the Experimental Cocktail Club (ECC) is hard to leave.

The cocktails are absolutely fabulous – if you’ve got a favourite then chances are the bartenders can mix it up for you, or take your pick from the seriously good list.

Address: 13a Gerrard St, Chinatown, London W1D 5PS


Oriole 

Oriole

Farringdon

Great bars in London don’t come much more effortlessly cool than Oriole.

From its hidden location and speakeasy vibes, to its utterly fabulous cocktail menu, this is a place for serious drinkers. 

Or anybody who just wants to have a good time in a gorgeous setting – usually with jazz.

Address: E Poultry Ave, Farringdon, London EC1A 9LH


Nine Lives 

Nine Lives

London Bridge

If you like your cocktail bars more on the “community living room” side, then you’ve got to make your way down to Nine Lives.

There are houseplants galore, friendly staff (and regulars) plus great vibes. Don’t worry, the cocktails are awesome as well.

Address: 8 Holyrood St, London SE1 2EL


Milk & Honey 

Milk & Honey

Soho

Prohibition-themed bars are a dime a dozen in London, however Milk & Honey was a trendsetter.

For almost twenty years (a millennia for London bars), they’ve been serving up amazing cocktails in a very lavish interior. 

Note it’s members-only after 11pm.

Address: 61 Poland St, Soho, London W1F 7NU


American Bar at Brasserie Zedel 

Americain Bar Zedel

Soho

Don’t let the name fool you – this top bar in London is actually all about the Parisian chic. Even though it’s got definite opulent vibes, the American Bar at Brasserie Zedel also unpretentious and welcoming.

From fab cocktails and a great wine list, to delish French-inspired small plates, it’s all good in my book.

Address: In the Basement of Brasserie Zedel, 20 Sherwood St, Soho, London W1F 7ED, UK


Swift Bar 

Swift Bar

Soho

Why choose one amazing bar in London when you can have two? Yup, that’s what’s on offer at Swift Bar.

Upstairs you’ll find a cocktail bar serving up light dishes, while downstairs things are all about the live music (and drinks, of course).

Address: 12 Old Compton St, Soho, London W1D 4TQ


Bar Termini

Bar Termini

Soho

We all love coffee and cocktails – and the fabulous Bar Termini approaches them both with equal care and consideration.

Whether you’re getting a fabulous daiquiri or a perfectly poured latte, you can expect to be seriously impressed.

That is – if you can get a seat. There’s only 25 on offer, so you’ll want to book or go early.

Address: 7 Old Compton St, Soho, London W1D 5JE


Compagnies de Vins Surnaturels 

Compagnie du vins surnaturels

Seven Dials

You don’t need to worry about struggling to find the perfect red at Compagnies de Vins Surnaturels, a gorgeous Parisian-inspired haunt in Neal’s Yard.

There’s an impressive selection of more than 400 wines here. Don’t be worried that it could be all quantity over quality – they’re carefully and expertly selected.

Address: 8-10 Neal’s Yard, London WC2H 9DP


Lyaness 

Cocktail at Lyaness

South Bank

London collectively gasped in horror when it was announced that Lyaness’s predecessor, Dandelyan, was closing down. It had, after all, been named the best bar in the world.

Amazingly, the reinvented Lyaness has managed to outdo it. This is the cocktail bar of all cocktail bars – perfect drinks, perfect decor and perfect service. 

Address: Sea Containers, 20 Upper Ground, South Bank, London SE1 9PD


12th Knot 

12th knot

South Bank

Located upstairs from Lyaness at Sea Containers, 12th Knot has the additional allure of being a rooftop view.

The cocktails are also fabulous, and you can enjoy them while looking out at that iconic London skyline.

Address: Roof Sea Containers, 20 Upper Ground, South Bank, London SE1 9PD


The Parrot 

Holborn

There are few better accompaniments to an epic cocktail than epic live music. And that’s exactly what you’ll find at The Parrot.

The bar is vaguely tropical-themed, although the low lighting is very European. It sounds a bit odd, but trust me, it totally works.

Address: 45 Aldwych, Holborn, London WC2B 4DW


Mr Fogg’s House of Botanicals

Fitzrovia

Spend any time in London and one thing will become abundantly clear: we really love our gin.

Undoubtedly, one of the best places to try some of the capital’s best gin is at the whimsical Mr Fogg’s House of Botanicals.

The drinks list is great and the decor is seriously fabulous – weird and wonderful in equal measure.

Address: 48 Newman St, Fitzrovia, London W1T 1QQ


The Cellar King’s Cross

The Cellar King's Cross

King’s Cross

As a recent addition to the multitude of Central London bars, The Cellar King’s Cross had a lot to live up to. But luckily, it does.

Offering up sustainable wines, ethical coffees, and a delicious array of charcuterie boards, The Cellar proves it’s never too early in the day to have a glass (or two).

The Cellar promises low-fuss, but still manages to look completely cool inside.

Address: 258 Pentonville Rd, London N1 9JY


The Nest

The Nest

Fitzrovia

For unparalleled views across the capital, The Nest inside Treehouse Hotel hits the spot.

Not only is this potentially the most beautiful bar in London, decorated in what can only be described as rustic-chic accents, but whatever time of day you visit, you’re guaranteed incredible 360 views.

With a great selection of wines, beers, and cocktails on offer, make sure you pay a visit to The Nest – you won’t be disappointed.

Address: 14-15 Langham Pl, London W1B 2QS


Tonight Josephine

Waterloo

Tonight Josephine is the ultimate guilty pleasure bar. A vision of pink and glitter, the drinks here are as fun as the decoration. 

A personal favourite is the hibiscus margarita, but the cocktail menu is so heavenly that I could easily recommend them all.

The bar is pretty small, so book in advance to avoid being turned away.

Address: 111 Waterloo Rd, London SE1 8UL


Flight Club 

Flight Club

Victoria

You can find a couple of Flight Club locations all over London, but the Victoria offering is one of my favourites. 

As one of the most fun bars London has to offer, an evening playing darts and quaffing drinks at Flight Club is a must.

The draw of this bar is definitely the dart boards, but even if you don’t fancy a game, the electric atmosphere and selection of drinks are reason enough to visit. 

Address: 6 Sir Simon Milton Square, London SW1E 5DJ


The Escapologist

Cocktails at The Escapologist

Seven Dials

Located in the bustling Seven Dials, The Escapologist is a quirky bar in London that’s as surreal as it is cool.

When you arrive you’ll soon find yourself transported into a bunker-style room, filled with dark leather sofas and strange artwork adorning the walls.

Drinks-wise, you’ve got everything from classic cocktails, craft beer, and wine to some more unusual mixes – I highly recommend you get the love potion for an ultra-girly drink, complete with a glitter-rimmed glass (who doesn’t love glitter?).

Address: 35 Earlham St, London WC2H 9LD


Best Bars in London: East London 

Nightjar 

Nightjar

Shoreditch

No type of music goes better with cocktails than jazz. Fact. And that’s exactly what’s on offer most nights of the week at Nightjar.

Amongst the speakeasy set, it’s one of the most popular bars in London – for good reason. The cocktail list is super cool, and so is the decor. Go find out what all the fuss is about.

Address: 129 City Rd, Hoxton, London EC1V 1JB


Callooh Callay 

Callooh Callay

Shoreditch

Go down the rabbit hole with this amazing literary themed bar in uber cool Shoreditch.

If the setting isn’t enough to have you totally enamoured, the cocktails at Callooh Callay should do the trick. 

If you’re extra lucky, you might even score an invite to the exclusive upstairs club, JubJub.

Address: 65 Rivington St, Hackney, London EC2A 3AY


Happiness Forgets

Happiness Forgets

Shoreditch

If you want to flex your knowledge of London’s fabulous bar scene, then you’d best get yourself a table at sought-after Happiness Forgets, one of London’s hottest bars.

Tucked away on Hoxton Square, the cocktails here are legendary – meaning tables are scarce. Book ahead and prepare for some seriously epic drinks.

Address: 8-9 Hoxton Square, Hackney, London N1 6NU


Found Shoreditch 

Heaven & Hell at Found Shoreditch

Shoreditch

It’s certainly not the biggest of London’s bars, but it’s perfectly-sized and one of my faves.

Cosy and romantic, Found Shoreditch is one of those places where you can settle in for a romantic date or heart-to-hearts with your best friends.

The fabulous, ever-changing cocktail list is pretty awesome too.

Address: 5 Ravey St, Hackney, London EC2A 4QW


Victorian Bath House 

The City

Us Londoners love a quirky take on the classic London cocktail bar. From parking lots to public loos, we’ve turned all kinds of spaces into drink stops.

One of these is the Victorian Bath House – the hint for its past life is in the name.

The quirk is fun, but what I really love about this place is the excellent cocktail list and overall good vibes.

Address: 7-8 Bishopsgate, London EC2M 3TJ


Old Street Records 

Old Street Records Shoredtich

Shoreditch

This New York-inspired bar is one of my favourites if you’re on the lookout for a way to enjoy great cocktails and save a few pounds.

This is one of my picks for a happy hour in London – they’re 2-4-1 and just as epic as usual.

If you miss the Happy Hour, Old Street Records’ drinks are still worth it at full price.

Address: 350-354 Old St, Hackney, London EC1V 9NQ


The Last Tuesday Society 

Cambridge Heath

If you like your cocktail bars on the quirky side, then prepare to be totally dazzled by The Last Tuesday Society.

Firstly, it’s nestled in the Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities, Fine Art & Natural History. Then there’s the calendar of events, usually of the literary variety. 

Finally, there’s the creative cocktail menu – with the absinthe being a particular highlight.

Address: 11 Mare St, London E8 4RP


Ruby’s Bar & Lounge 

Hackney

The stairs down to Ruby’s Bar & Lounge are a little on the rickety side, but trust me – delights wait downstairs.

This bar opened up in 2012 but it looks a lot older, with an eclectic range of antiques.

Of course, the main highlight is the to die for cocktails.

Address: 76 Stoke Newington Rd, Hackney Downs, London N16 7XB


Passione Vino

Shoreditch

Oenophiles (wine lovers), get ready for a serious delight. Passione Vino is legendary amongst the wine-loving crowd in London.

It’s easy to overlook the humble facade, but step inside and lose yourself with over 300 fine wines on offer. They’re predominantly Italian, and all fabulous.

Address: 85 Leonard St, Hackney, London EC2A 4QS


Coupette

Coupette Cocktails

Bethnal Green

Coupette is undeniably one of the best places to drink in London.

As brandy enthusiasts, their menu features an extensive range of drinks that really pack a punch. From heady cocktails to lighter fizzes, you’ll be able to find your perfect tipple here.

Add to that a dimly lit setting that misses the pretentiousness of some of the other bars in London, Coupette is a real winner.

Address: 423 Bethnal Green Rd, London E2 0AN


Boathouse Cafe & Bar

Barking

Located on the River Roading in the east stretches of Barking, Boathouse is a relaxed watering hole where you can grab a chilled pint.

Inside you’ll find lots of quirky decor designed to get you talking, and paired with the delicious bespoke cocktails on offer (courtesy of local legend Derrick), this is the perfect setting for a fun evening with friends.

Address: 80 Abbey Road, The Granary Building, Barking IG11 7BT


Best Bars in London: South London 

Frank’s Cafe at Bold Tendencies

Peckham

There are few better places to enjoy London in the sun than at the breezy Frank’s Cafe at Bold Tendencies.

It’s a not-for-profit arts organisation, and the artsy vibes definitely shine through on the rooftop bar. 

The drinks are good, but what’s particularly awesome here is the atmosphere and sunshine.

Address: Bold Tendencies, 7th-10th Floor Multi Storey Car Park, 95A Rye Ln, London SE15 4ST


Tap & Bottle 

Tap & Bottle

London Bridge

If you’re more about the vino rather than the cocktails, you’d best make a beeline for his amazing London bar.

It boasts a seriously epic wine list including many varieties on tap. Yes, you read that right.

Hey, it works and it’s good for the environment. There’s a reason this place is a favourite amongst wine loving Londoners.

Address: In the Flat Iron Square Building, 64 Union St, London SE1 1SG


Shrub & Shutter 

Brixton

A simple, Scandi-style cocktail bar and cafe is a bit of a juxtaposition against bustling Brixton. However, it totally works.

Unusually for a place that also does excellent food, Shrub & Shutter serves up drinks that can compete with any London cocktail bar.

Perfect when you great drinks and great food in a trendy setting.

Address: 336 Coldharbour Ln, Brixton, London SW9 8QH


No29 Power Station West

N29 Power Station

Battersea

An old power station might not seem like the ideal setting for a great bar in London. However, you can always trust Londoners to take something grunge-y and turn it into something super cool.

In this case, it’s a fabulous cocktail bar and restaurant by the name of No29 Power Station West. With great decor and drinks, it’s a definite winner.

Address: Battersea Power Station, 29 Circus West, London SW11 8NN


Brunswick House & Garden 

Vauxhall

Settings don’t come much more impressive than the elegant Georgian mansion of Brunswick House & Garden.

So, if you’re looking for a very English cocktail experience, you’d best check out the bar inside.

It’s all extremely glamorous and sought-after – so make sure you book ahead to secure a spot.

Address: 30 Wandsworth Road, Vauxhall, London SW8 2LG


Omeara

Flat Iron Square - Omeara

London Bridge

Live music is a key ingredient to any great city, and Omeara is the place to go if you’re looking for it in London.

Many great British artists have gotten their start in this much loved space, and the drinks are pretty damn good too.

Address: 6 O’Meara St, London SE1 1TE


Lost & Found 

Lost & Found

Balham

This little cocktail bar has oodles of vintage charm, from the old school wallpaper to eclectic mix of gilded frames on the wall.

Lost & Found has a real local feel – if your local serves up really, really freaking good cocktails.

So, if you’re after a great drink in a charming city – this is a great pick.

Address: 10 Bedford Hill, Balham, London SW12 9RG


Little Nans at The Cavendish Arms 

Stockwell

Sometimes it’s just so hard to pick between the good pubs and the good bars in London. For those times, there’s Little Nans at The Cavendish Arms.

The first highlight of this bar is the quirky, eclectic decor. The second is the seriously fabulous drinks, from the great wine list to the oh-so-fab cocktails.

Address: Deptford, London SE8 4BZ


Best Bars in London: North London

Laki Kane

Islington

We might joke, but when it gets down to it – who doesn’t love a tiki bar, really?

For a stylish yet fun take on your traditional tiki experience, there’s Laki Kane in Islington. What’s in a name? Laki Kane means ‘a lucky person’ in Polynesian – you’ll undoubtedly be feeling pretty lucky once you have had some of their delicious cocktails (made only with natural ingredients you know).

Rum is the beverage du jour here, and there are frequent tastings and other events. The rum based cocktails are fab, although there are other options if that’s not your thing.

Address: 144-145 Upper St, Islington, London N1 1QY,


Hoxley & Porter 

Islington

Retro interiors can sometimes get a tad questionable (or totally tacky), but then there’s places like Hoxley & Porter that do them just right.

Effortlessly styled like an early 1900s hideaway, this cocktail bar is a true gem.

Drop by for the beautiful decor, stay for the exceptional drinks.

Address: 153 Upper St, Islington, London N1 1RA


Clerkenwell & Social 

Clerkenwell & Social

Farringdon

If you’re craving something fairly substantial to eat along with your world-class drinks, head on over to Clerkenwell & Social.

Its cocktail list is impressive, with the classics as well as a few more innovative options. They also offer up some great food, including delicious pizzas. Because pizza and cocktails is a winning combination.

Address: 2-5 St John’s Square, Farringdon, London EC1M 4DE


Little Bat

Little Nans

Islington

There’s no need to choose between a cosy night at the pub or a stylish night at a cocktail bar with Little Bat.

Blending the best of London’s drinking scene together, this fabulous little bar is a favourite with visitors and locals. Whether you want a killer martini or a humble pint, they’ve got it on offer – and it’s damn good.

Address: Cocktail Bars, 54 Islington Park St, Islington, London N1 1PX


Bar Liber

Bar Liber

Islington

When it comes to nice bars, London has you covered. Bar Liber is a sophisticated wine bar in St Pauls that impresses – including a few glasses that cost well over £100.

But don’t stress if that’s out of your budget, the rest of the menu features a great selection of reasonably priced wines and cocktails, including a sour pisco punch and their signature Fred (think a red wine slush puppy, for adults).

Address: 274B St Paul’s Rd, London N1 2LJ


Little Mercies

Little mercies

Crouch End

Crouch End’s Little Mercies restaurant and bar is an exciting jaunt and one of the best places to drink in North London. 

Not only do they sell their brilliant drinks online (you might recognise the cheeky emoji packaging), but their ultra-cool bar is the perfect place to relax with a drink.

Little Mercies’ extensive selection of wines, craft beers, and cocktails is rather impressive – there’s even an orange wine on the menu.

Address: 20 Broadway Parade, London N8 9DE


Barrio Angel

Angel

The vibe at Barrio Angel is pure fun.

From the exciting Latin American theme, to the many rum-based cocktails on offer, you’re in for a fun night at this vibrant bar in London.

Make sure you check the calendar in advance as Barrio Angel hosts regular DJ nights and special offer days (including my fave, Pina Colada Wednesday’s). 

Address: 45 Essex Rd, London N1 2SF


Homeboy Bar

Islington

Homeboy is a fun Irish bar in London, serving up award-winning cocktails in a speakeasy setting.

If you’re a whiskey drinker, this is easily one of the best bars in London (I counted 10 whiskey-based concoctions on their menu!). If not, there’s plenty of cocktails and wines to choose from.

Homeboy also serves up food from Auntie Banh Mi – who knew Irish drinks went so well with Asian sandwiches?

Address: 108 Essex Rd, London N1 8LX


Best Bars in London: West London 

Gin Tonica at The Distillery 

Notting Hill

Too much gin can only be a good thing – and don’t the folks at The Distillery know it. My favourite of their offerings is Gin Tonica, the exceptional bar.

The emphasis is – obviously – on gin – served up in huge, fishbowl glasses popular in the Basque region of Spain.

If you love gin, don’t miss this one.

Address: 186 Portobello Road, London W11 1LA


Trailer Happiness 

Notting Hill

Trailer Happiness

In a world full of sleek, minimalist style decor, sometimes you just need a place that goes all-out on the kitsch.

That place is Trailer Happiness, which is inspired by Polynesia and offers up some seriously good vibes. If you’re looking for a fun spot for a great drink, you can’t go wrong here.

Address: 177 Portobello Rd, Notting Hill, London W11 2DY

Want to know more about Trailer Happiness? Check out our interview with its owner, Sly Augustin!


Vagabond Fulham 

Fulham

Wine lover? Don’t miss Vagabond Fulham, one of the all-around best vino experiences of any bar in London.

Here, you can get a “wine card” that allows you to taste some of the 100+ varieties on offer. Cheese and charcuterie boards are also available. 

There’s a dazzling selection by the glass, so get prepared for a wine masterclass here. 

Address: 18-22 Vanston Pl, Fulham, London SW6 1AX


The Bletchley 

Chelsea

Who doesn’t love a cocktail bar that’s also more than a little theatre and brain tester?

That’s what’s on offer at The Bletchley, one of the best bars in London if you’re on the hunt for something quirky.

It’s an immersive WW2 bar and quite the experience. Hint: don’t drink too much, as you’ll need your wits about you to navigate the cocktail list.

Address: 459 King’s Rd, Chelsea, London SW10 0LJ


No 11 Pimlico Road 

Belgravia

One of the best all-day dining and drinking options in London, this Belgravia bar is light and breezy.

The food is great and so are the drinks (cocktail, wine and craft beer). Best of all, they’re on offer all day at No 11 Pimlico Road – so it’s perfect if you’re on the hunt for a boozy brunch.

Address: 11 Pimlico Rd, Belgravia, London SW1W 8NA


Ricco Lounge

Kensington

Ricco Lounge describes itself as an art-deco lounge for the creative and the cultured, and this Kensington hot spot serves up a delicious selection of cocktails and sharing plates.

The velvet and gold interior is seriously beautiful, providing the perfect backdrop to the cabaret shows and live music performances that play at Ricco Lounge.

Address: 11 Russell Gardens, London W14 8EZ


Bobby Fitzpatrick

West Hampstead

With its retro theme, Bobby Fitzpatrick is a fun London bar serving up some delicious cocktails.

From the garish wallpaper to the brown leather furnishings, this is a bar that really nails the 1970’s style.

The drinks range from classics like Singapore slings and Zombies to the more unusual Enrique the 5th, so there’s something to take everyone’s fancy.

For a fun evening in a relaxed setting, pay a visit to Bobby Fitzpatrick’s charming spot.

Address: 273 W End Ln, London NW6 1QS


Portobello Star

Notting Hill

Portobello Star has a long history in West London. Having been open since 1740, the bar has served up a cheeky drink or two to the likes of both Royals and criminals.

Offerings here include craft beer, house spirits, and classic cocktails. For great 2-4-1 deals, head to Portobello Star during Happy Hour in the week between 4pm – 7pm. You can thank me later.

Address: 171 Portobello Rd, London W11 2DY


Great Bars in London: Final Thoughts 

So, there we are – 54 totally amazing bars in London you can smash over the summer. Drink safely kids, your liver will thank you. 

Any burning suggestions? Drop them in the comments below. 

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