Where to Drink in London Right Now
We’ve already established that London pretty much has the best bar scene on the planet, but as residents of London, we understand that you can get spoiled for choice and just end up hitting the same places over and over again. Trust us, power through this list of amazing bars for every occasion, and then see if your horizons aren’t stretched for the better. We'll be updating this roundup seasonally, too -- so bookmarking this page isn't the worst idea.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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