After eating London's finest dishes, it's only natural that you'd get a little thirsty -- and what better way to wash them down than with London's finest cocktails? But in the city that makes the best mixed drinks on the damn planet (seriously), it can be tough to know exactly which ones those are... which is where we come in.
Under My Skin
Artesian (address and info)
Artesian has been having a phenomenal couple of years, winning so many awards that other cocktail bars can only console themselves with a stiff, inferior drink. And when you're dealing with that kind of pedigree, it can be tough to pick a winner from the menu -- but the Under My Skin takes the cake, by blending Chief Gowanus gin, Gran Lusso vermouth, bitters, and leather that you literally breathe while eyeing yourself up in a black mirror.
Robin Hood, Quince of Thieves
The Blind Pig (address and info)
Bar manager Gareth Evans might not wear tight tights, but he certainly gives rich taste buds a run for their money. With Somerset apple brandy, quince liqueur, honey mead, lemon, and even a mini apple bullseye, you will be a merry man indeed.
Word of God
PortSide Parlour (address and info)
Although PP is known for its impressive rum selection, it’s this whiskey-fueled number that really catches attention. With an easy 50/50 split of Bulleit rye and Cynar, just a pinch of salt to mellow it out, and garnished with coronations, it’s a bit sweet, a touch bitter, and packs a major punch.
Welcome to Kentucky, Have a Nice Day
The Cocktail Trading Co. (address and info)
Sure, these guys only opened a minute ago, but we’re going to go on record and say they’re cooking up some of the best juice in town. This award-winning box of noodles is packed with Jim Beam bourbon, yuzu juice, matcha tea, and a ginger & plum infusion, covered in bacon-flavored noodles (shah... they’re actually vegan), and sipped through chopstick-esque straws.
Vermouth? You Can’t Handle Vermouth
City Social (address and info)
Another drink from the mind of Gareth Evans, this time served sitting high up in Tower 42 near Liverpool St. Bulleit rye, Cocchi Vermouth di Torino, Gancia Bianco, Campari, and Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao are stirred down and sipped while staring at a perfect view of the Walkie Talkie, the Cheesegrater, and the Shard.
Night at the Picture House
Belair House (address and info)
If you’re up for venturing South to Dulwich, you’ll be solidly rewarded for your efforts at Belair House. Although masquerading as a carton of salted popcorn, hiding underneath it all is sweet, caffeinated, and punchy dram with Ketel One vodka, Kahlua, orgeat, cream, and popcorn essence.
69 Colebrooke Row (address and info)
It comes as no surprise that drinks legend Tony C has created a masterpiece of a drink. Harnessing one of the oldest recorded scents of frankincense and coupling it with the calming qualities of camomile with the rich depth of Merlet Cognac, it will make you feel like a wise man indeed.
Rhubarb and Custard
Ladies and Gentlemen (address and info)
A recent addition to the budding cocktail scene over in Kentish Town, this former public loo now serves this number; presented in a Bird’s Custard tin, it puts together seasonal rhubarb with a healthy dose of locally made Portobello Road gin.
Discount Suit Company (address and info)
While it might take you a couple tries to find the way into this basement-level drinking den, the Pina Fumada will make it all worth it. Strangely like a piña colada, this mezcal refresher throws in a good dose of Velvet Falernum, pineapple, honey, and lemon.
Gymkhana (address and info)
These guys have way more up their sleeves than just award-winning Indian food. Tucked away downstairs is a swank little bar that has some serious drinks going on. If a G&T and a curry sour (if there was such a thing) had a lovechild filled with Tanqueray gin, tonic syrup, ginger, fresh curry leaf, lemon & egg white, this baby would be it.
Ale of Two Cities
Callooh Callay (address and info)
This is an oldie but a goodie, created by Sean Ware. With 42 Below Feijoa vodka, Punt e Mes, lime and apple juices, nettle cordial, and malt syrup, you’ll feel like you’re drinking beer, but better.
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1. The Blind Pig58 Poland St, Soho
2. PortSide Parlour14 Rivington St, London
3. The Cocktail Trading Co.22 Great Marlborough St, London
4. City SocialTower 42, London
5. Belair HouseGallery Rd, Dulwich, London
6. 69 Colebrooke Row69 Colebrooke Row, London
7. Ladies and Gentlemen2 Highgate Rd, London
8. Discount Suit Company29 Wentworth St, London
9. Gymkhana42 Albemarle Street, London
10. Callooh Callay65 Rivington St, London
Housed upstairs inside Jason Atherton’s Michelin-starred Social Eating House, this SoHo cocktail bar is way more than just a way station. Filled with dark wood, leather booths, and paneled ceilings, this place offers up creative cocktails, frequently with puntastic names and atypical inspirations. The entrance is a little hard to find—you'll need to locate the blindfolded pig doorknocker—but that only adds to the '20s speakeasy vibe of this little club. Signature drinks include the over-the-top Silver Screen, which is comprised of popcorn-infused Buffalo Trace bourbon, a "bespoke-a-cola" reduction, "3D" bitters, and lemon oils, served with a tiny striped bucket of popcorn pinned to the glass.
What started as a pop-up under Broadway Market has turned into a fully fledged cocktail bar on the lower stretch of Rivington Street. PortSide knows a thing or two about concocting quality cocktails, with new ones popping up all the time. With a vaguely nautical theme and a banging soundtrack, the Parlour's a place to pop in for one drink and end up staying all night (well, until midnight, when it closes). Into rum? So are they -- their collection is pretty spot-on.
Ensconced neatly underneath Soho's Central & Co., The Cocktail Trading Company, remarkably, trades in cocktails. This bar features master cocktail crafters who whip up a vast menu of tasty and unique concoctions that are part of an "ongoing experiment," meaning that if you like the look/taste of something you had, enjoy it while you can. It could be gone before you know it.
With delicious and fresh fare from Head Chef Jason Atherton, City Social provides a slick and sophisticated ambience 24 stories above the street.
If you’re up for venturing South to Dulwich, you’ll be solidly rewarded for your efforts at Belair House, which doles out a variety of beers and 'tails, including one that masquerades as a box of popcorn.
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."
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.
When a bar/speakeasy has a name this awesome and an atmosphere to fit it (enter through the dodgy-looking side door into a low-ceilinged, exposed-brickwork, raw-light-bulbed den) there's no reason not to go. But if you need more convincing, simply go and try some of their signature cocktails yourself. You wont' regret it. Try out the “Juan For The Road,” which is made up of mezcal, Cocchi Americano, Suze, citric acid, and grapefruit bitters.
Gymkhana is a cozy, Michelin-starred Indian restaurant in Mayfair. This spot, carefully decorated to evoke the era of British Raj, offers a seasonal, game-heavy menu.
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.