Whether they’re sleek, quirky, or uber-cool, these excellent cocktail bars all have one thing in common: they serve frickin’ awesome drinks. Here’s a roundup of 20 of the best cocktail bars in London:
1. The Coral Room, Bloomsbury
Stepping inside The Coral Room is like stepping onto a Wes Anderson film set. No, really. The distinctive and soothing coral-coloured walls provide the perfect Instagram opportunity, and the swish art deco furnishings take you back to a time of decadent debauchery. There’s also a secluded cigar terrace – heated during the winter months – an eclectic cocktail list and ‘the world’s longest list of English sparkling wine’ – sounds pretty good to us.
You’ll find The Coral Room at 16-22 Great Russell Street, Bloomsbury, WC1B 3NN. Nearest station is Tottenham Court Road.
2. 69 Colebrooke Row, Islington
Technically, this bar has no name, only an address, which is how it ended up with the snappy name of 69 Colebrooke Row. Look for the lantern above the door to find your way in. Once inside, you’ll find a cosy interior with a nostalgic jazz vibe – they do live music here – and a menu of inventive drinks (Heather Negroni, anyone?), which definitely makes it worth the hunt.
You’ll find 69 Colebrooke Row at 69 Colebrooke Row, Islington, N1 8AA. Nearest station is Angel.
3. Callooh Callay, Shoreditch
Named after a line from Lewis Carroll’s ‘Jabberwocky‘, the London cocktail bar Callooh Callay has drinks that will make you gyre and gimble in the wabe. The intriguingly-titled ‘(Not A) Hennessey And Coke’ and ‘Crazy Ex’ both catch the eye, whilst the ‘Tomayto Tomahto’ looks strong enough at this Shoreditch joint to take down a frumious Bandersnatch.
You’ll find Callooh Callay at 65 Rivington Street, Shoreditch, EC2A 3AY. Nearest station is Old Street.
4. Lyaness, South Bank
Formerly the home of World’s Best Cocktail Bar Dandelyan, Lyaness sprang to the head of the pride in early 2019. Still sumptuously decorated and wildly inventive, this London cocktail bar builds its cocktails around a series of just five ingredients, with names like ‘Palm Tree Daisy’ and King Monkey Nut.
You’ll find Lyaness at Mondrian London, 20 Upper Ground, SE1 9PD. Nearest stations are Blackfriars and Southwark.
5. Experimental Cocktail Club, Chinatown
Hidden away behind a shabby door in Chinatown, you’ll find a brilliant little London cocktail bar with an ever-changing menu. Because of the experimental nature of their creations – and the complete lack of a website to direct you to – there’s little point recommending something which might be gone in a month. Guess you’ll have to keep visiting the Experimental Cocktail Club then, won’t you?
You’ll find the Experimental Cocktail Club at 13a Gerrard Street, Soho, W1D 5PS. Nearest station is Leicester Square.
6. Ladies & Gents, Kentish Town & Camden
It’s no exaggeration to say that Ladies & Gents is the best thing you’ll find in a former public toilet. They distil their own spirits on site – including the roguish Highwayman Gin – and use ingredients foraged from Kentish Town and Hampstead Heath to create their menu, featuring dangerous delights like the ‘Kamikaze’ and ‘Naked & Famous’. Their tagline is also ‘highballs, hijinks and hanky-panky‘, so you’re in for an interesting night here!
You’ll find Ladies & Gents at 2 Highgate Road, Kentish Town, NW5 1NR. Nearest station is Kentish Town.
7. Fitz’s Bar, Bloomsbury
From the depths of a former toilet to the gilded rooms of Russell Square now, as Fitz’s Bar adds a touch of the opulence to our humble cocktail bars roundup. Inspired by the brilliant works of architect Charles Fitzroy Doll, it’s all silk ceilings, dark wood, and Art Deco fixtures.
. Nearest station is Russell Square.
8. Trailer Happiness, Ladbroke Grove
Rum lovers better head to Portobello Road, because this Tiki-style bar has a lot of it. You’ll also find other spirits infused into Tiki revamps of classic cocktails at Trailer Happiness, but there’s no doubt that rum is the star of the show. Well, what else would it be, hey?!
You’ll find Trailer Happiness at 177 Portobello Road, Notting Hill, W11 2DY. Nearest station is Ladbroke Grove.
9. Happiness Forgets, Hoxton
‘Great cocktails, no wallies‘ is the mantra of Happiness Forgets, and they do both pretty expertly. Though it may look like an unassuming little place, the quality of cocktails routinely earns it a place on the World’s 50 Best Cocktail Bars list, and it cracked the top ten in 2016.
You’ll find Happiness Forgets at 8-9 Hoxton Square, London, N1 6NU. Nearest station is Old Street.
10. Nightjar, Shoreditch
A seemingly endless menu of original cocktails is the major draw here, with influences drawn from all over the world. Nightjar aims for stylish sophistication, and hits it pretty much bang on the mark. Swinging jazz nights influenced by the roaring 1920’s also help to draw in the cool cats. So, strap in and enjoy the ride.
You’ll find Nightjar at 129 City Road, EC1V 1JB. Nearest station is Old Street.
11. The Bloomsbury Club, Bloomsbury
The Bloomsbury Set loved a drink almost as much as they loved a torrid love affair, and this bar pays homage to their lives. As well as describing the cocktails, the menu helpfully tells you which of them were sleeping together (and generally scandalising Edwardian society in doing so too). These are refined drinks served at The Bloomsbury Club, so try not to Woolf them down too quickly.
You’ll find The Bloomsbury Club at 16-22 Great Russell Street, Bloomsbury, WC1B 3NN. Nearest station is Tottenham Court Road.
12. Iris, City of London
Way up in the tippity top of the Gherkin, Iris opened to Joe Public in Summer 2018 (having previously been a members-only spot) and immediately dazzled us with sweeping panoramic views. Go for the namesake ‘Iris Sunset’ – a delightful concoction of Bombay Sapphire sunset gin, apricot liqueur, lemon and Champagne. Sounds bloody delicious if you ask us.
Level 40, 30 St Mary Axe, City of London, EC3A 8AF. Nearest station is Aldgate.
13. Discount Suit Company, Aldgate
Looks can be deceiving, you know. You’ll find this rundown suit shop particularly ill-fitting if you’re in the market for a three-piece, but if cocktails are the aim, then you’re in luck at the Discount Suit Company. The Nude and Notorious looks short and sharp and damn fine, and the Bad Mama Mama – a delightful mix of rum, pimento, fig, bitters and citrus – is also well worth a try.
You’ll find the Discount Suit Company at 29 Wentworth Street, E1 7TB. Nearest station is Aldgate East.
14. Coupette, Bethnal Green
Another solid addition to this roundup of the best cocktail bars in London. Get ready to find your joie de vivre, because Coupette has a very distinct French influence. French spirits such as Calvados dominate a menu inspired by ‘avant-garde cultural icons‘, and we’ll be eternally grateful for whoever inspired the Champagne Piña Colada.
You’ll find Coupette at 423 Bethnal Green Road, E2 0AN. Nearest station is Bethnal Green.
15. Eve Bar, Strand
Whether you’re a saint or a sinner (and given that you’re this far into a list dedicated to cocktail bars in London, we’d say you’re a glorious sinner!), you’re going to enjoy Eve Bar. With the positively ‘Miltonian Paradise Lost‘ – rum, pandan, banana, ginger, popcorn, and matcha – on the menu, you’ll find yourself in cocktail heaven here.
You’ll find Eve Bar at 34 Southampton Street, WC2E 7HF. Nearest stations are Covent Garden and Charing Cross.
16. Behind This Wall, Hackney
As with many of the city’s best cocktail bars, Behind This Wall doesn’t go out of its way to be found. If you find the dimly-lit stairs on Mare Street and work your way inside, you’ll find a cracking bar with a cobbled-together hi-fi system and pizzas delivered by Yard Sale. Cocktails change all the time here and there is no set menu – plus all cocktails are designed to exclude artificial additives, colours and flavours.
You’ll find Behind This Wall at 411 Mare Street, Hackney, E8 1HY. Nearest station is Hackney Central.
17. Nine Lives, Bermondsey
Pouting defiantly in the direction of ‘you only live once‘, Nine Lives’ tropical-themed bar is lush in every sense of the word. As per their website, they’ve ‘painstakingly given a shit‘ about everything on the menu, so you can bet drinks such as ‘Strawberry Feels’ and ‘Punchline’ will be a special affair. They also have an outdoor terraced area, Nine Lives Alley, which pops up during the Summer months – ideal if the sun’s shining – as well as some killer tacos.
8 Holyrood Street, London Bridge, SE1 2EL. Nearest station is London Bridge.
18. Satan’s Whiskers, Bethnal Green
Number five on 2021’s ‘Top 50 Cocktail Bars’ roundup, Satan’s Whiskers is something of an East London legend. Effortlessly cool and with a killer list of cocktails, this is a great spot to meet a date or if you plan to meet up with some mates. This isn’t a snooty spot either – expect a hip-hop soundtrack, unique taxidermist décor, moody lighting and excellent service.
You’ll find Satan’s Whiskers at 343 Cambridge Heath Rd, London, E2 9RA. Nearest station is Bethnal Green.
19. Swift Soho, Soho
Our penultimate entry on this roundup of the best cocktail bars in London is one of our beloved capital’s favourite, having made number two on 2022’s ‘Top 50 Cocktail Bars’. There are two parts to this London cocktail bar – the upstairs is more of a traditional bar, serving classic – and affordable we might add – cocktails as well as beers and wines. Downstairs at Swift Soho is designed to be more of a cosy and atmospheric whisky den – there’s regular live music playing and over 300 different types of whisky to choose from.
You’ll find Swift Soho at 12 Old Compton Street, London, W1D 4TQ. Nearest station is Tottenham Court Road.
20. The Connaught Bar, Mayfair
Rounding off this list of the best cocktail bars in London is a real winner. No, really – it’s been voted the best cocktail bar in the world for two years running. If you’re planning a visit, you’ll want to make a beeline for the bar’s famed Dry Martini trolley, which designs bespoke riffs on the classic tailored to their guest’s satisfaction. Other great bevvies here include the ‘Magnetum Cocktail’ – a mix of scotch and sherry served in two distinct parts – and the ‘Vintage Negroni’. Naturally.
You’ll find The Connaught Bar at Carlos Place, London, W1K 2AL. Nearest station is Bond Street.
So there you have it – our roundup of 20 of the best cocktail bars in London. So get the glad rags on and we’ll see you there!
Also published on Medium.