Food & Drink

Where to Drink in London Right Now

Published On 10/23/2017 Published On 10/23/2017
london beverage director
Addie Chin
The Savoy

The Savoy Hotel

Covent Garden

Some might almost say that the art of cocktails and bartending was created at the Savoy in the ‘20s, when some of America’s best stirrers and shakers came over to a land where booze wasn’t illegal. Loaded with two bars -- the monochrome American Bar, which was recently voted the Second Best Bar in the world),and the dark and sultry Beaufort Bar -- this place is the definition of classic; it's no surprise that legends like Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe called this their local.



Housed in the Mondrian Hotel right on the Thames, this super-slick -- but comfortable -- bar from the Mr Lyan crew is perfect for basically everything. Shiny enough to impress, but with the kind of relaxed attitude that’ll make the hours pass with the blink of an eye, the drinks here are frankly world class. And the view of the river with St Paul’s just across the way ain’t bad, either.

Flickr/Ewan Munro

Satan's Whiskers

Bethnal Green

This neighborhood cocktail bar is all about old-school hip-hop and classic cocktails. A perfect date spot, there’s plenty of strange taxidermy around to keep the conversation moving if you need a touch of help, or sit up at the bar to watch the expertly trained bartenders do their thing. Pro tip: Their food menu is totally underrated, so go ahead and order a starter or two.

Addie Chinn

Callooh Callay


There’s much more than meets the eye at this award-winning bar on Rivington St. With a small party bar up front, head through the wardrobe at the back to a ‘70s-inspired lounge that’s great for larger groups to gather. If that’s not enough bang for your... er, pound, they’ve got yet another secret bar hidden upstairs that regularly changes concept and is accessed via a nightly changing door code.

Courtesy of Happiness Forgets

Happiness Forgets


This basement number is understated and charming, and bangs out some of the best cocktails around. Opened by Pegu Club (NYC) trained Alastair Burgess, this has become an East London institution where the drinks are simple, the company friendly, and experience consistently excellent.


69 Colebrooke Row


Drinks wizard/mad scientist Tony C is the brains behind this tiny corner spot, located on a quiet corner on a seemingly random back street. This means that while the drinks look classic, they’re filled with surprises like “dry essence” and “distilled Manhattan.” The whole place feels like some noir hideaway from a 1950s detective flick, which is a definite bonus.

El Camion

Pink Chihuahua


Down a set of set of stairs that look determined to make you fall, this micro land of agave wonder was first set up by the late, great Dick Bradsell (he invented the Espresso Martini), has one of the best tequila collections in town, and has a tendency to get a bit wild. It becomes members-only late, but talk to the guys and sign up, and get ready for many shots, dancing, and probably a few wonderfully bad decisions.

The Ten Bells - Spitalfields

The Ten Bells


With a history dating back to the mid-18th century, this was one of the pubs Jack the Ripper would find his victims, and thus is a frequent stop on tours. Besides its less than sanguine past, inside is beautiful, with original tiling and a great craft beer selection. It’s a solid pub where after-work drinkers spill out into the street from early until late.

The Connaught

The Connaught Bar


This gorgeous hotel bar gets top marks for style and service with their fearless leader, Ago Perrone, residing over their super-striking martini trolley. Every detail is incredibly thought-out, leaving you feeling incredibly looked after and surrounded by swank glamour.

The Hops & Glory

The Hops & Glory


This pub and micro craft brewery sitting on Essex Rd brings an old-school country feel with new-school city sensibilities. Founded by Durham Atkinson, who worked back in the day at cocktail dens Milk & Honey and Happiness Forgets and was Imbibe’s Pub Personality of the Year, H&G is the kind of place to sit back with an easy pint or gather for a good roast. Also, their Christmas holiday sharing feasts are pretty epic where you can get a whole suckling pig to devour with your friends.

Courtesy of Ladies and Gentlemen

Ladies and Gentlemen

Kentish Town

Housed in a former Victorian loo, this chilled-out cocktail bar is a perfect spot for a date or an easy drink when hanging out in North London. Minutes from the tube station and the Forum, the menu changes pretty often and is filled with quirky and unusual drinks that’ll blow your mind, so it’s always a good call.

Courtesy of Bull & Last

The Bull & Last

Hampstead Heath

Situated on the border of Hampstead Heath, this gastropub has long been waving the flag for delicious eats served with a super traditional pub backdrop complete with heavy velvet drapes, ornate wood carvings, ancient taxidermy, detailed wall prints, a warm service style that lacks any airs. Broken into an upstairs proper dining room and a buzzy main space on the ground floor, this dog-friendly spot is perfect for a dedicated Sunday roast sesh.

Courtesy of Sager + Wilde

Sager & Wilde


Built on a deep love of wine, this place opened after a series of pop ups where they would offer ridiculously great wine by the glass, a tradition they keep to this day. This is a place for wine lovers and those who want to know more: The endearing staff will walk you through their regularly changing menu and help broaden your vino horizons one gorgeous sip at a time. Plus their toasties are pretty much perfect.

Loren Reed

Three Sheets


Chilled out with some serious pedigree, this brother-owned spot is the new kid on the block, and is facing some high expectations. Co-owner Max Venning was Tony C’s right-hand man for years at the booze lab, The Drink Factory, that created the insane concoctions over at 69 Colebrooke Row, Bar Termini and the Zetter Townhouses. Although they’ve relaxed some of the science for this venture -- it is Dalston after all -- everyone is very excited to see what they do.

andrew northrop/Thrillist

The Black Heart


Hidden on a back alley behind the World’s End, this dive bar is exactly what you image Camden of olde was like: unpretentious, reasonably priced, generally dark with fairy lights (although it does open up a lot on warm days), and rounded out with a pop-up food kitchen and upstairs venue space. Perfect for dodging tourists and students when you want an easy beer or whiskey.

Courtesy of The Lexington

The Lexington


If you’re into whiskey and good times, this should be your favourite spot. Boasting one of the city's most impressive selections of the brown (and occasionally clear) stuff, they also host several fun quiz nights and DJ jams, and serve up the kind of roast that will cure whatever ails you. It also helps that the space is massive, with chandeliers and overstuffed sofas in the back, and are open till crazy late on the weekends. If you really want to make a full night of it, be sure to check out the gig schedule for upstairs.

Flickr/Garry Knight

The Crobar


Welcome to a land of leather, dyed hair, and black eyeliner. This goth/punk dive bar is a Soho staple where you can drink cheap beer and whiskey till 3am, hear great music (some of it occasionally live in their minuscule back room), and dream about one of the collection of motorcycles parked out front.

The Toucan

The Toucan


This tiny Irish bar is a temple to Guinness, with plenty of old tat along the walls, two different temps of black velvet served, and a historian's knowledge behind the bar. With several different kinds of rare whiskey, plus a few other beer varieties, and even a menu filled with Irish delicacies, this is a good choice any time of day.

Philip Lobban

Gordon's Wine Bar

Covent Garden

Buried deep beneath cobbled streets, a den of liquid wonder lives. With multiple caves and tunnels filled with small candlelit tables and a copious amount of wine which is so damn romantic yet not schmaltzy in the least, it’s no surprise that it’s been trading since 1890 with no chance of slowing down. They’ve got a wide selection of wines and a handful of pub classic snacks, which makes this place easy to lose a couple hours.

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1. The Savoy Hotel Strand, London, WC2R 0EU

Some might almost say that the art of cocktails and bartending was created at the Savoy in the ‘20s, when some of America’s best stirrers and shakers came over to a land where booze wasn’t illegal. Loaded with two bars -- the monochromed American Bar, and the dark and sultry Beaufort Bar -- this place is the definition of classic. It's no surprise that legends like Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe called the Savoy their local.

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2. Dandelyan 20 Upper Ground, London, SE1 9PD

With stunning floor-to-ceiling windows, leather and velvet decor, and deliciously refreshing cocktails, Dandelyan offers you a refined experience. Winner of Tales of a Cocktail's Spirited Awards for Best New International Cocktail Bar, Dandelyan boasts an iconic green marble bar and a dramatic view of the Thames River. Its menu is nature-inspired, featuring local botanicals as the ingredients and in the display.

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3. Satan's Whiskers 343 Cambridge Heath Rd, London, E2 9RA

From the team behind The Hemingway and Hunter S, this occcult-tinged neighborhood watering hole is a trendy and delicious place to lounge with a drink. Dark slatted shutters betray little of the outside, but once you’re in, you’ll find candlelit tables, strange taxidermy, old-school hip-hop, tasty snacks, and mind-blowing drinks. These guys were at Milk & Honey in its heyday and really know their stuff, treating you to a classic-heavy, daily-changing menu filled with drinks you know and drinks you’ll never forget. It's not a huge space, and it's definitely popular, so make sure to get there early for a seat at the bar.

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4. Callooh Callay 65 Rivington St, London, EC2A 3AY

Craft cocktails and whimsy reign supreme at this award-winning Shoreditch spot. It’s like stepping into the Narnia of nightlife -- guests literally enter through an old Victorian wardrobe -- into a world of mixology-driven drinks like the Pyropia, which features Nori-infused El Jimador tequila, green apple sherbet, lime, and agave. Between the cassette tapes decked along the walls (get it?) to the slick, black leather furniture, the vibe is decidedly trendy. While the mid-century lounge in the back may be secret, the bar itself isn’t: plenty of Londoners come here to party on the weekends, so consider making a reservation.

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5. Happiness Forgets 8-9 Hoxton Square, , London, N1 6NU

Happiness Forgets is subterranean speakeasy that’s also one of the sexiest spots in Shoreditch. Nestled in a discreet basement off Hoxton Square, there's a distinct lack of pretension in this cozy, dimly lit joint: you’ll find friendly banter, expertly mixed cocktails, and a convivial atmosphere evoked by books, liquor bottles, and candles along the shelves. Owned and operated by Alastair Burgess, whose hardcore training at Milk & Honey in London and famed Pegu Club in NYC is a testament to his mixology prowess, the watering hole is frequented by industry folk and locals alike.

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6. 69 Colebrooke Row 69 Colebrooke Row, London, N1 8AA

Officially called "the bar with no name,” this small-but-perfectly-formed space is helmed by Tony Conigliaro, godfather of the London cocktail scene, who’s decked it out with a classic ‘50s-Italian-Riviera feel. The drinks themselves all feel timeless, yet there’s plenty of science going into their creation, with ingredients and methods developed in a lab by Broadway Market, including the Manhattan Steel Corp., a Manhattan twist with "Dry Essence."

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7. Pink Chihuahua 25-27 Brewer St, Soho, W1F 0RR

Pink Chihuahua, located in the basement of Soho’s Mexican cantina El Camion, is an unassuming bar often presided over by bartending legend Dick Bradsell, the mastermind behind the Bramble, Russian Spring Punch, and Vodka Espresso. After having dinner of quesadillas, nachos, mini taco platters, and chipotle and jabanero salsa upstairs, head to the subterranean drinking den for a selection of Mexican beers, margaritas, wine, mezcal, and, perhaps most importantly, tequila-based drinks. Pink Chihuahua is truly loco over tequila, with over 300 bottles in the huge glass cabinet. Painted skeletons gawk at you from the walls they adorn, and bright murals reflect the celebratory, nightly fiesta that takes place at Pink Chihuahua.

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8. The Ten Bells 84 Commercial St, Spitalfields, E1 6LY

Ten Bells is an East London boozy bulwark that’s stood in the middle of Shoreditch since the mid-17th century. Embracing its historical heritage, which notably includes being a favorite haunt of Jack the Ripper, Ten Bells maintains chipped tiles on its floors and battered seats by its bar, complemented by antique newspaper clippings framed on the walls. You’ll find both locals and tourists in this eerie joint, sipping on quality beers, wines, and cocktails like a gin and tonic, martini, sidecar, martini, and cucumber sour. Though often packed, Ten Bells has plenty of breathing room across its three floors.

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9. The Connaught Bar Carlos Place, London, W1K 2AL

Drinking at this elegant hotel bar is a ritzy experience, and though the menu features a unique spin on every classic cocktail, you're here for the martini trolley. All of the bitters and vermouths are made in-house, and once you order your martini, the bartender will wheel the cart over to you and mix it table-side. It's all about details at The Connaught, so take in the mirrors, plush banquettes, and silver accents, and try not to let your tab bring you down.

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10. The Hops & Glory 382 Essex Rd, Islington, London, N1 3PF

Hops & Glory Pub and Dining Room offers a slice of country pub living on Essex Street. The daily changing menu of British fare has both small plates and large plates stocked with local produce, meat from the family owned Walter Rose farm in Wiltshire, and fish fresh from the day boats of Cornwall. Entrees tend to be meat-centric and are definitely meant to keep your bones warm in the chilly British winters, like the Hops & Glory beef burger, with Welsh rarebit and beef dripping chips. While the wooden décor and amber lighting make Hops & Glory excellent for snuggling up, warmer days bring the glass double-doors wide open, with brass fans swiveling from the ceiling. Wash your plates down with the house-made pale ale.

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11. Ladies and Gentlemen 2 Highgate Rd, London, NW5 1NR

Owned and operated by William Borrell, the producer of craft spirit Vestal Vodka, Ladies and Gentlemen is Kentish Town’s answer to artisanal cocktails. There’s a big focus on neighborhood pride here: everything is locally sourced, from the honey and fruit respectively used for syrups and garnishes to the Highwayman Gin that they make daily in an on-site, 16-litre copper vat. If the elegant presentation of each drink isn’t already enough for you, consider this: this sleek, bright space used to be a public bathroom in the Victorian era.

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12. The Bull & Last 168 Highgate Rd, Hampstead, NW5 1QS

The Bull and Last is an historic Parliament Hill pub housed in a 19th-century coaching inn with both a downstairs bar area and an upstairs dining room. Craft ales are available on tap throughout the day at the bar, complemented by snacks like sweet anchovies and crispy buttermilk chicken. Dog-friendly Bull and Last will even provide marrow bones and pig’s ear to your furry friend. Upstairs, classic British fare is served in a bright, wooden space that’s ideal for both romantic occasions and family meals. On the meat-centric menu are starters, mains, and desserts, ranging from Cornish mackerel with avocado puree, cucumber, pickled radishes, and tempura seaweed to Iberico acorn-fed pork presa, black fig, apple, and hazelnut, and, to sweeten it all up, peanut butter parfait with roast rum banana and peanut brittle.

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13. Sager & Wilde 193 Hackney Rd, London, E2 8JL

Sager & Wilde is a sleek wine bar serving reasonably price drinks by the bottle or glass, and varying day to day. The food menu boasts a rotating set of small plates. Behind the long iron-grate bar sits staff members who clearly know what they’re talking about, so rest assured you’ll get something to your liking. Overflowing with laid-back charm, this is the perfect spot to try wines you’ve never heard of (there's an extensive by-the-glass program) and then end up ordering several bottles worth. Also, the toasted sandwich game here is ace.

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14. Three Sheets 510b Kingsland Road, London, E8 4AB

At Three Sheets London, there’s a tacit understanding that cocktails and coffee are really all you need in life. This neighborhood coffee and cocktail spot is dark, dim, and seductive, and with a petite, seasonal menu, you can tell that the bartenders make each drink with finesse and refinement. Grab your caffeine fix during the day, and then return to the long marble bar in the evening for drinks like the “French 75,” which is made with gin, clarified melom, verjus, moscato, and orange flower, then carbonated and served from a champagne bottle.

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15. The Black Heart 3 Greenland Pl, London, NW1 0AP

At the end of an alley sits The Black Heart, a live music space that’s dark, cavernous, and gritty. Quiet by day and packed by night, The Black Heart offers one of the best beer selections not only in Camden, but also in the whole of London. The walls are plastered with skulls and graffiti, and there’s not a TV in sight, but The Black Heart is excellent for a night of beer, booze, and bands, in no particular order.

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16. The Lexington 96-98 Pentonville Rd, London, N1 9JB

This pub, in all of it’s pre-war smoking room glamour, is all about American cuisine, craft beer, and bourbon. From their award-winning burgers and dogs to popular American microbrews, The Lexington transports you to the States for a night—but like any good English pub, they host a traditional Sunday afternoon roast. Come in Monday nights for an intense round of pop culture trivia and head upstairs for more of an after-hours club scene with dancing and live music.

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17. The Crobar 17 Manette St, London, W1D 4AS

You'll see lots of leather, dyed hair, and black eyeliner at this compact goth/punk dive bar, a Soho staple where you can drink cheap beer and whiskey until 3am, listen to metal on the jukebox and from live bands that occasionally play (and somehow fit) in the tiny back room, and dream about owning one of the motorcycles parked out front.

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18. The Toucan 19 Carlisle St, London, W1V 5RJ

This buzzy Irish bar is a tiny temple to Guinness, serving pints and pints of the beloved black velvet with a historian's knowledge, and sporting countless posters of the Guinness toucan on the walls and stools made to look like Guinness pints at the bar. There are also several different kinds of rare Irish whiskey to explore at this Soho dive, which is nearly always packed with friendly patrons who consider this place church, and even a food menu filled with hearty Irish favorites to help soak up all those suds.

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19. Gordon's Wine Bar 47 Villiers Street, Embankment, WC2N 6NE

Buried deep beneath cobbled streets in Covent Garden, Gordon's Wine Bar is composed of multiple caves and tunnels filled with small candlelit tables and copious bottles of wine, which is somehow more romantic than it is gimmicky. Gordon's has been around since 1890, and is still going strong serving its wide selection of global wines (ranging from red to rosé to vegan) and a handful of snacks, such as cheese plates, a smoked salmon salad, and peppers stuffed with feta cheese.