We’ve rounded up some of the best bars in Shoreditch to help you plan your next big night out.
The bar scene in Shoreditch, east London, has become the stuff of legend over the past ten years. Some of the venues below are regularly named among the world’s best cocktail bars, while others offer the outrageous decor and hedonistic vibes that unforgettable nights out are made of. Start your evening at one of these excellent Shoreditch restaurants and end up at one of these snazzy Shoreditch bars.
1. Tonight Josephine
Resplendent in neon, glitter, mirror and chrome, Tonight Josephine’s throwback ’80s vibes make it the perfect Shoreditch bar for a girls’ night out. Better yet, you can grab 3 cocktails for £16 or 6 cocktails for £26 here. 39A Hoxton Square, N1 6NN.
Drawing influences from all over the world, Nightjar has a seemingly endless menu of cocktails. The bar aims for stylish sophistication and hits it pretty much bang on the mark. Swinging jazz nights also help to draw in the cool cats. 129 City Road, EC1V 1JB. Find out more.
Known for some of London’s craziest cocktails, Cocktail Trading Co. is a bubble of Instagrammability. We’re talking drinks served in conch shells, hot air balloons and wellington boots – and that’s only the beginning. There’s also live music on Wednesday evenings, between 8-10pm. 68 Bethnal Green Road, E1 6GQ. Find out more.
“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 cocktails at this Shoreditch bar routinely earns it a place on the World’s 50 Best Bars list, and it cracked the top ten in 2016. 8-9 Hoxton Square, N1 6NU. Find out more.
Inspired by “the nightmare girlfriend your mum warned you about”, Nikki’s is a place where hedonism reigns. Haters and hangups should both be left at the door for this one, because you never know where the night will take you. Drawing kitschy influences from the likes of Quentin Tarantino, amongst others, Nikki’s promises outlandishly trashy decor splashed with colour. They’re also sticking a bed in the middle of the bar – purely for the purposes of lounging around and giving zero fucks, mind you. 39A Hoxton Square, N1 6NN. Find out more.
O frabjous day! Named after a line from Lewis Carroll’s ‘Jabberwocky’, Callooh Callay has drinks that will make you chortle with joy. The intriguingly titled Gorilla Panic catches the eye, whilst the Saint Hellier looks strong enough to take down a frumious Bandersnatch. 5 Rivington Street, Shoreditch, EC2A 3AY. Find out more.
7. The Gibson
One of the best bars in the world. A step through The Gibson’s Art Deco-style swing doors is a step into a time machine. Both its interiors and its cocktail menu will take you on a journey through the ages: from the Edwardian era, passing through the glamorous twenties and thirties, and flinging you forward into the future.
The bar only seats up to forty people, and there’s often live jazz playing from a corner. But it’s the drinks that people come for. Made by some of the best bartenders in the world, the cocktails are, well, some of the best in the world. The classic Gibson cocktail – the bar’s namesake – is their speciality, of course. 44 Old Street, EC1V 9AQ. Read more.
Feeling ballsy? This ludicrously–named bar invites you to dive into a pool of 1,000,000 balls while drinking sweet shop-inspired cocktails, including the Dibbie Dabberson and the Skittle Sour. (OK, you aren’t actually allowed to takes drinks in the ball pool.) 97-113 Curtain Road, EC2A 3BS. Read more.
Lounge Bohemia doesn’t sound particularly inviting if we describe it as “a bar beneath a greasy kebab shop that’s inspired by communist Prague.” Which is exactly what it is. But it’s the drinks that you stay for. They go all in for molecular mixology, with drinks bubbling, smoking, and even arriving in non-liquid forms. For instance, the wonderful Bearllinis (fizzy bellini flavoured gummy bears). Other cocktails come served in lightbulbs, toothpaste tubes, or a bubbling volcano. 1e Great Eastern Street, EC2A 3EJ. Find out more.
10. Boundary Rooftop
Open all year round and fully protected from the weather, the popular rooftop of Boundary Rooftop is an elevated hot spot the streets of east London. As well as having ideal coverage and heating in the winter, they also adapt the food menu to warm the cockles of your chilly heart. We’re talking hot, gooey fondue and raclette. 2-4 Boundary Street, E2 7DD.
Proceed Clockwise is a café during the day, and there’s a bar serving wine and beers until late. But that’s not the reason people visit. Boasting over 600 different games – including the classics (Monopoly, Cluedo, Risk, Jenga, Guess Who?) and some modern favourites (Exploding Kittens, Cards Against Humanity) – Proceed Clockwise is the perfect spot for a nerdy and nostalgic get together with your mates. 150 Bethnal Green Road, E2 6DG. Find out more.
12. The Book Club
Contrary to what the name might suggest, The Book Club is, in fact, a lively place for a dance. Join them for ‘The Get Down’ every Friday night, where resident DJ Jimmy Plates will be mixing all sorts of R&B, hip hop, disco, funk, and soul classics. Find it at 100-106 Leonard Street, EC2A 4RH. Find out more.
13. Queen of Hoxton
Queen of Hoxton is another great place for dancing into the early hours, but it’s mainly known for its rooftop. This changes seasonally but, at the moment, it’s decked out to look like a seductive Parisian speakeasy. Expect lots of absinthe, hot buttered rum, spiked hot chocolates, and gooey raclette. 1-5 Curtain Road, EC2A 3JX. Find out more.
This bar, believe it or not, is part-owned by pop musician Rick Astley. The partnership began when Mikkeller founder Mikkel (a big Astley fan) was introduced to Astley (a big beer fan) by the singer’s Danish wife. It’s Mikkeller’s first UK bar, although they have many others in Copenhagen, New York and San Diego. The interiors are deliciously Danish, with lots of wood and bold colours to complement the array of beer taps. 2-4 Hackney Road, E2 7NS. Find out more.
Another bar that loves a bit of Absinthe, Looking Glass Cocktail Club is Alice in Wonderland-themed and bills itself as a “haven of debauchery”. To enter, you’ll have to step through a looking glass (i.e. a big mirror) and you’re likely to be there until the early hours, cocktail in tow. 49 Hackney Road, E2 7NX. Get two cocktails for £12 over at Fever.
16. Nuala Bar
Offering a whirlwind of music, craic and typical Irish merriment, NUALA Bar takes the ‘Irish pub’ thing to a whole new level. Expect extra strong whiskey cocktails, plenty of Irish music, and the best Guinness in the city. 70-74 City Road, EC1Y 2BJ.
17. Black Rock
This bar has a very unique selling point, and it comes in the form of a massive 185-year-old oak tree filled with rivers of whisky. We’re not kidding. They’ve taken a trunk, laid it on its side and chopped it in half, chiselled two channels down its length and filled them both with 17 litres of whisky cocktails. The tree is then covered with glass and used as a table. The drinks age as they sit in the trunk, and are delivered straight to your glass through taps at the end. 9 Christopher Street, EC2A 2BS. Find out more.
18. Bull in a China Shop
Bull in a China Shop has over 100 Japanese and Scotch whiskies behind the bar, claiming to have something for everyone – even the most insistent whisky sceptics. They also have a magnificent list of signature cocktails, such as the chamomile and charcoal Old-Fashioned. Find it at 196 Shoreditch High Street, E1 6LG. (Bull in a China Shop also features on our list of the best Shoreditch restaurants for its popcorn chicken paired with Japanese whisky.)
19. TT Liquor
Nobody wants to end up in jail, but what if we told you you could come and go as you please and drink as much booze as you like? TT Liquor on Kingsland Road is an old Victorian police station, converted into a three-storey haven dedicated entirely to high-quality liquor and damn good cocktails. If you were just walking past, you’d probably mistake it for a humble old liquor store (and we wouldn’t blame you) but, lo and behold, if you had just popped in and made your way downstairs… TT Liquor is more than just a store or a bar, it’s a bit of history and a whole lot of fun. 17B Kingsland Road, E2 8AA. Find out more.
20. Old Street Records
Time spent at Old Street Records will be some of your happiest hours, mostly because they have a wicked 2-4-1 offer on their cocktails between 5-8pm every day. It’s also a great place for pizza and partying into the early hours. Find it at 350-354 Old Street, EC1V 9NQ.
You’ll find Found hidden beneath Ravey Street. It’s a cosy bar spread across four rooms with a menu featuring six different cocktails for each of the major spirits (as well as a ‘lucky number seven’ for showing off any recent experiments). They pride themselves on great drinks and great service, and we’re pretty confident that that’s exactly what you’ll find. Find it downstairs at 5 Ravey Steet, EC2A 4QW.
Also published on Medium.