Best bars in London

From classic cocktails to fine wines, Time Out recommends 50 great bars in London

© Jonathan Perugia

Our critics have rounded up their 50 favourite bars in London and split them into convenient categories to help you find the perfect drink. Discover the best cocktail bars, cool hangouts, hotel bars and wine bars in the capital. Have we missed your favourite? Let us know in the comment box below.

The 50 best bars in London

69 Colebrooke Row

This tiny bar opened in Islington in mid-2009, and is overseen by Tony Conigliaro, who is widely considered to be one of London’s top bartenders and cocktail experts. With just a handful of seats, the understated, intimate space proves a fine environment in which to enjoy the pristine cocktails (peach and figleaf bellini, martinis made with ‘woodland bitters’, rhubarb gimlet), mixed with quiet ceremony.
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Islington

Artesian

The Langham Hotel is one of those high-ceilinged, marble-pillared palaces that many well-padded visitors, yet few resident Londoners, seem to visit. But it’s worth getting your best togs on just to admire David Collins’s design of this handsome room.
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West End

Baltic

Baltic reopened in July 2012 following a fire, but little has changed. With a small square of front terrace, a modern bar and a grand, sunken restaurant, this little piece of Poland has been a worthwhile stop on Waterloo bar crawls for many a year.
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Waterloo

Bar Pepito

Tucked away in a courtyard accessible via an alley at the foot of Pentonville Road, this rustic, Andalucían-themed bar is dedicated to sherry. With room for only four or five tables, all shaped from sherry casks, it’s a tiny place – so small, in fact, that the toilet is across the road at Camino (run by the same folks) – but no less appealing for its lack of size.
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London

Barrica

Vinos, finos and manzanillas are the order of the day at this slavishly conceived Noho version of a Spanish sherry bar. Boss Tim Luther previously worked in the wine trade, and is clearly an oenophile who knows his onions.
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Blue Bar

The name isn’t just a caprice: this David Collins-designed bar really is as blue as a Billie Holiday album. The sky-blue armchairs, the deep-blue ornate plasterwork and the navy-blue leather-bound menus combine with discreet lighting to striking effect. It’s a see-and-be-seen place, but staff treat all-comers like royalty, and the cocktails are a masterclass in sophistication.
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Hyde Park

Book Club

This busy but commendable bar-club comprises one expansive room – divided by a wall with an oval hole in the middle, giving the illusion that half of Hoxton is here – and a small pool room downstairs.
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Old Street

Boisdale

The drinks menu at this part-sophisticated, part-kitsch Scottish-themed enterprise – tartan everywhere – is less of a list and more of an encyclopaedia. The histories of various whisky regions are outlined within its pages, which also contain individual tasting notes worthy of the most pedantic oenophile.
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Belgravia

Brumus Bar

Everything screams for attention at the Haymarket Hotel’s bright, almost brash bar, though the kaleidoscope of pink and red, patterned with geometrics on the bar stools and florals on the sofas, may not be to everyone’s taste.
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Trafalgar Square

Callooh Callay

This landmark of the Shoreditch bar scene takes its inspiration from a line in ‘Jabberwocky’, a Lewis Carroll poem, and tends to divide visitors. Many simply adore it; others find it pretentious.
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Old Street

Cinnamon Club

This classy two-floor operation, an imposing space that easily reveals its past as a public library, is divided between a top-notch Indian restaurant, a trendy evenings-only DJ basement and a study-like cocktail bar by the lobby.
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Crazy Bear

Perfectly groomed hostesses greet arrivals to this basement den. The atmosphere is lively and, better still, the cocktails are superb: try a Lychee Mojito, which fuses Havana Club Añejo Blanco, lime juice, lychees and mint, or a martini made with Hendrick’s gin and cucumber garnish.
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Grain Store Bar

This, the bar of Brounet Loubet's terrific 'non-meat focussed' King's Cross restaurant, is equally imaginative, with the likes of truffle martinis and 'butter and hay champagne' on offer. 

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Kings Cross and St Pancras

Hakkasan

Once the hottest ticket in town, the Hanway Place branch of Hakkasan is in danger of being eclipsed by its shiny new Mayfair sibling, where staff are notably friendlier.
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Soho

Hawksmoor Spitalfields (bar)

Time Out’s Food & Drink reviewers can often be heard singing the praises of Hawksmoor’s three-strong chain of steakhouses with bars (the other two are in Covent Garden and Guildhall). Over many visits over the years, using different reviewers, for breakfast, lunch, dinner or drinks, we’ve struggled to find faults in any of them.
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Spitalfields

Lobby Bar

It’s hard not to be wowed by the soaring space, with its triffid-sized flower arrangements, elegant pillars and ceiling-height windows; but the majesty of the room is lent intimacy by high-backed armchairs, comfortable sofas and shimmering candles.
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Aldwych

The Lonsdale

Since its unveiling in 2002, The Lonsdale – hip cocktail bar, restaurant and lounge in upscale Notting Hill – has become local favourite and destination venue all in one.
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Lost Angel

You don’t expect to find a bar like Lost Angel along this sorry-looking stretch of the Battersea Park Road, but there is a precedent: this building was once home to Dusk, which brought a little glamour to the street.
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Battersea

Lost Society

Run by the same crew as The Lost Angel in Battersea and Citizen Smith bar in Putney, this is one of south London’s longest-established bars, which in the 1980s was known as the Tearoom des Artistes.
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Clapham

Mandarin Bar

Step out of the Knightsbridge chaos into the Mandarin Oriental's cool marble surrounds and you might initially expect to be greeted with a proper British colonial drinking experience. 
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Hyde Park

Mark's Bar

Opened in 2009, together with the Mark Hix-operated restaurant on the ground floor, this is a destination in its own right. It’s a subterranean speakeasy with plenty of style – low zinc bar, tin ceiling panels, comfortable Chesterfields, bar billiards table – but with precious little attitude.
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Soho

Mr Fogg's

From the crew behind Maggie's and Bunga Bunga comes another 'themed bar done well', this time taking inspiration from eccentric Victorian explorer Phileas Fogg. The cocktails are excellent too.

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Mayfair

Powder Keg Diplomacy

Powder Keg Diplomacy is a bar and restaurant with a colonial theme so loyal that Cecil Rhodes would feel at home. But don’t worry: the owners didn’t occupy this Battersea site by force; the staff do get paid; and you won’t catch malaria if you stay too long.
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London

Purl

The first bar from the people who went on to create the Worship Street Whistling Shop, VOC and Dach & Sons, Purl was a clear taste of things to come.
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Marylebone

The Rookery

The place has got what it takes as a bar. The beers on tap include local real ale Sambrook’s Junction, there’s also a fridge full of fine bottled ales, a well-stocked back bar of spirits and half a dozen or so wines by the glass.

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Clapham

Rum Kitchen

Venue says: Join us for one of our jerk chicken burgers and wash it down with a £5 cocktail from our happy hour menu every day from 6-8pm! Rum n' Ting!

What’s cooking? If ever a bar represented the changing demographics of W11 from the 1950s to present day, here it is. Rum Kitchen takes the spirit of the Caribbean and repackages it for the new residents of Notting Hill.

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Westbourne Park

Sager & Wilde

With its good looks and pooch-friendly policies, this Hoxton wine bar (a Shoreditch pop-up gone permanent) has plenty going for it. Not to mention a flat-rate £20 mark-up per bottle.

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Haggerston

Sebright Arms

The slow decline of too many East End pubs is inevitable and depressing. The punters drift away, the paint peels, the pints turn sour in the lines; the clack of pool balls fades to silence and the Big D nuts go stale on their ‘babe boards’.
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Haggerston

Terroirs

Terroirs positions itself as an evangelist for natural wines, but is equally valued for the quality of its informal French cooking and its buzzy atmosphere.
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Trafalgar Square

Trailer Happiness

Remaining laudably tongue-in-cheek while the rest of Ladbroke Grove drowns in chichi spots, Trailer Happiness is not a cocktail bar as such – with its deliberately tacky decor (Tretchikoff paintings galore) and DJ hatch, it’s far too informal for that.
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Ladbroke Grove

Vinoteca

We’re big fans of this small wine bar and shop, and we’re not alone. The no-bookings policy in the evening means it’s first come, first served, and such is Vinoteca’s reputation for interesting wine and food at very acceptable prices, there’s always a queue.
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White Lyan

It's ground-breaking stuff at Hackney's one-time White Horse, where mixologist Ryan Chetiyawardana has ditched all the ice (and all the perishables) to create a compact list of exceptional (but still cold) house cocktails. 

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Shoreditch

Zetter Townhouse

Imagine an eccentric antique shop where the owner is reluctant to actually sell anything, and instead sees an empty shelf, table or bit of wall as an invitation to show off a seemingly discordant but holistically pleasing collection of curios.
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Farringdon

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