The Ultimate List: 50 Excellent Cocktail Bars in London

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When we first created this list back in 2010 you might have heard the words “there aren’t that many decent cocktail bars in London”. What madness is this? Now following a revival, London bars have definitely come a long way, with top-quality classics sharing a drinks list with the latest cocktail concoctions.

This year, we’ve added in some award-winning new bars to ensure whether you like them long and strong or short but sweet, you can get a quality cocktail. So here, in no particular order, are updated 50 places to pick from:

1. The American Bar at The Savoy, Strand

The bar is named after the slang for cocktails so you know you are in the right place. The Savoy Cocktail book is still regarded as the “Bible for bartenders”. Class all the way.

American-Bar

2. Bourne & Hollingsworth, Rathbone Place

A tiny 30s bar hidden away (look for the stairs by the black and white poster). Very handsome bar staff too. Expect drinks served in jam jars and tea cups.

3. Dirty Martini, The Piazza, Covent Garden

In the week happy hour till 10pm – but get there early at the weekends (open late!!) Get here early for their 2-4-1 deals. Make sure you get the chocolate martini. But if it’s busy and you’re thirsty, go elsewhere.

Dirty Martini

Dirty Martini

4. Trader Vics, Park Lane

Come here for the famed Mai Tai. Just had a major revamp – over a tenner for the top cocktails – Aloha

5. Nola, Shoreditch

Having just scooped the 2014 Best New International Cocktail bar at the prestigious “Spirited Award”, this East London tribute to New Orleans is a must-visit. Members-only post-midnight but you can get a signature Sazerac for less than a tenner.

6. Trailer Happiness, Notting Hill

Fun and silly, which is what cocktails should be, don’t you think? Kitsch rum cocktails

7. El Camion, Soho

Simply magical margaritas and late night opening hours, Monday to Saturday, makes this a new Soho superstar.

8. Cubana, Waterloo

Sure it’s a bit of a dive, but the mojitos are wonderful.

9. Freud, Shaftesbury Avenue

Great little bar and gallery, but the cocktail list is enormous. Worth the trip if you can afford to try lots of new things

10. Zetter, Farringdon.

Worth the trip east for the fabulous martinis. The Zetter Townhouse hotel is award winning, too.

11. Nightjar, Old Street

An Art Deco slice of heaven, this 1920s themed bar (think pre & post prohibition cocktail drinks on the menu) is open until 3am at the weekend.

12. The Purple Bar, The Sanderson

If there is a more opulent hotel bar in London, we’re yet to find it.

13. Shochu, Charlotte Street

Hidden away and serving unique (if expensive) cocktails using the Japanese spirit Shochu.

14. Benugo at the BFI, Southbank

Wonderful Margaritas. Better when it’s quiet though, which is pretty rare.

15. Bar 55, Camden

One for the after work crowd. Great cocktails and super boozy 2-4-1 deals throughout the week.

16. Garlic and Shots, Soho

Well it’s great… if you like garlic and you’re not planning on kissing anyone.

17. Charlotte Street Hotel, Fitzrovia

Great in summer, if you’re lucky enough to get a table outside. Don’t move if you do. And go for the Dark ‘n’ Stormy.

18. Match, Margaret Street

Nifty little spot, and never too busy. Great cocktails, but go with a group as it now has sharing bowl punches

19. Mele E Pere, Soho

More a restaurant but does amazing martini’s; we recommend the “Dirty” one. Not the cheapest, but quality all the way. They even had Prosecco on tap!

20. Beach Blanket Babylon, Notting Hill

Stunning design and a classier feel than the Shoreditch branch.

21. Cellar Door, Aldwych / Covent Garden

A funky underground cocktail bar in a former public toilet. Yep, really. Open until 1am every night so a great central London late night option.

Cellar-Door-EastEnd-Cab

 

22. Tropicana Beach Club, Covent Garden

Tropical cocktails and bargain 2-4-1 deals between 5pm-8pm, Thursdays to Saturday. Beach themed food, too.

23. The Hospital Club, Covent Garden

If you can get in, the martinis are a treat. So are the little shots that waiters pass around the bar.

24. LAB, Soho

So many cocktails from developing bartenders! You’ll need a year (and a strong liver) to go through them all. Try something new.

25. Zensai, Camden

There aren’t many cocktail bars in Camden, but this one is really very good and has great 2-4-1 deals early doors throughout the week.

26. Crazy Bear, Fitzrovia

Fab members- only clubhouse bar. If you have the creds; pop in early to get a table.

27. Soho Hotel, Soho

They do great mojitos at the hotel’s Refuel Bar. Expect to pay well over a tenner though. Ouch.

28. Titos, London Bridge Street

More of a restaurant, but we hear they do the best Pisco sours in town.

29. Good Godfreys, Waldorf Hilton, Strand / Covent Garden

Another hotel bar which is open late; try their decadent signature cocktail, The Perfect Host, for a 1920s twist.

Good Godfrey's

Good Godfrey’s

30. Sketch, Mayfair

Worth a trip for the egg-shaped toilets alone. This is a destination cocktail bar in magical surroundings.

31. 69 Colbrooke Row, Angel

This small, classic, award-winning bar whips up a darn good tipple. Book ahead. If you’re feeling inspired try a cocktail masterclass.

32. Be at One, Soho

It’s a pub turned bar chain, so it’s got a very friendly vibe and you’ll know what you’re getting.

33. Bob Bob Ricard, Soho

If you can get into the elegant bar, the cocktails are great (if a tad expensive). Otherwise just sit at the tables pressing the champagne trolley buttons.

34. The Courthouse, The Courthouse Hotel, Soho

Want to drink convict-themed cocktails in a prison cell? Then come here; I rest my case!

35. Milk & Honey, Soho

Looking for a more exclusive drink? Then come to Milk & Honey before 11pm if you’re not a member. It’s best to call or email and reserve.

36. Artesian, The Langham, Marylebone

On several of the world’s best bar lists, this is the height of cocktail bar sophistication. They love pushing the boundaries and have unique and experimental recipes.

Artesian-Bar

37. Shoreditch House, Shoreditch

Very swanky members’ club. Very swanky drinks.

38. Lost Society, Clapham

A lovely little south west London bar, with English classics on both the drinks and food menus.

39. The Hawksmoor, Shoreditch

Not just incredible steak, they can shake a decent tipple as well. Amazing cocktail list.

40. Callooh Callay, Shoreditch

Fitting in rather snugly with its trendy Shoreditch neighbours, this award-winning cocktail menu just has to be tried. Go through to the back room for a more private space.

41. The May Fair bar, May Fair Hotel, Mayfair

An award-winning hotel bar. This is a cracker whether your poison of choice is the Mojito or the Martini. Cocktails start from £13, so this is the place for that special treat.

42. South London Pacific, Kennington

A little way out of town, but worth it if you’re a fan of all things Tiki. Great drink deals before 10pm; Aloho!

43. Freedom, Soho

This is a great little gay/mixed bar. Awesome cocktails (try the Zombie) and a giant disco ball above the dancefloor.

44. Sugar Cane, Clapham

Who wouldn’t want to drink in a Tiki hut? Lots of rum on the shelf here in, err, tropical…Clapham.

45. Covent Garden Cocktail Club, Covent Garden

This members-only club only costs £1 to join via email 24 hours before you go (and you can then sign in 3 pals). Their 2-4-1 deals run nightly and membership means it doesn’t get absolutely heaving.

46. The Rivoli at The Ritz, Piccadilly

Great drinks in amazing Art Deco surroundings. But then it’s the Ritz – you wouldn’t expect anything less, would you?

47. Steam and Rye, Leadenhall Street

Fab cocktails and live music to boot.

48. White Lyan, Hoxton

This dark, quirky new bar eschews ice and has all their drinks pre-mixed. Very original and surprising tasty, a cocktail experience with a difference.

49. House of Wolf, Islington.

One of Upper Street’s finest and a self-confessed “Victorian lair” based in a former music hall, this is a destination cocktail bar. Try an ABBAtini.

50. Hakkasan, right by Tottenham Court Road

Tucked away, you’d think you were in another part of the world.

Freud

Freud

We would love to hear what your favourite bars are and let us know if we have missed one of yours off.

Please leave a comment below or get in touch on Facebook  or Twitter with your drinks and bar recommendations.

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About Author

Kirsten Beacock

Kirsten is the chief blogger here at lastminute.com. A former newspaper journalist (don’t hold that against her), having taken extensive trips to China, America and Australasia, she is now pouring her passion for travel into writing blogs and features for the lastminute.com website. Arriving in London via exotic Scunthorpe, Kirsten has made it her mission to try out as many pubs and restaurants as she possibly can in the capital.

12 Comments

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  3. Reese Wither Smith on

    This list is incomplete without best Cocktail Bar in City of London- Anise. Famous for spice infused cocktails, small and affordable bar food and Live music on occassions. Tucked in the Devonshire square 2 minutes from London Liverpool Street, it is a must try institution for great cocktails, atmosphere and reasonable prices.www.anisebar.com and the adjacent Indian restaurant Cinnamon Kitchen.

  4. Hi,

    I’m looking for somewhere to go on a Friday night for 12 people, not too far from London Bridge, with a good atmosphere! Any recommendations?

    Thanks!

    • Kirsten Beacock
      Kirsten Beacock on

      Hey Helen,

      I recently did a blog about bars near London Bridge station – which is a good starting point.
      http://www.lastminute.com/blog/best-pubs-near-london-bridge-station/
      If you like wine – Bedales is really atmospheric (might be worth booking a table for Friday)
      The Southwark Tavern is always busy and you can stand outside if it’s warm. Katzenjammers usually has a good vibe if you like beer and you can book a table.
      For a splurge and views – The Shard’s bar is hard to beat.
      Hope that helps!

  5. Hi Kirsten,

    Absolutely excellent list of cocktail bars – may I ask how many of which you have actually been too? If you have visited them all.. I am VERY impressed!

    I have visited around 30 of these… I love shoreditch house and that has to be probably one of my favourites.

    A bar missing off the list (not suprisingly) is Genting Casino’s Chinatown Bar – although not quite as quirky or glamorous, they have an equisite cocktail menu with some of the best bartenders I have seen! They really are fantastic and rather affordable. There is a great vibe around the place too!

    Sketch and Guanabara are also two of my faves!!

    Once again, great effort on this blog!

    All the best.

    • Kirsten Beacock
      Kirsten Beacock on

      Hey Elliot – thanks for the recommendation, that isn’t one I’ve tried.
      Yes 50 is a long list – fortunately it was a team effort so I’m still in one piece!

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