So many cocktails, so little time. So just stick to the best cocktail bars in London by using our ranked list below. You'll find everything from dark and dirty speakeasy joints and secret bars to bold and brash party spots meant for a night out on the tiles. What they all have in common is mixed drinks that will blow your mind – and hopefully not your budget.
Reviews by Euan Ferguson, Richard Ehrlich, Laura Richards, Andy Hill, David Clack, Tania Ballantine, Chris Waywell and Phoebe Trimingham
London's best cocktail bars: 50-41
What’s the vibe? Rich kids party hard, south-of-the-border style.
When to visit The decadent ‘Do Not Disturb’ party every Thursday: a relentless sensory fiesta.
What’s on the menu? Tequila-based cocktails and straight shots, alongside champagne and other high-society faves.Read more
What’s the vibe? Youthful and hedonistic – basically exactly what you’d expect from a Peckham railway arch.
When to visit Late-ish on a Saturday night, when DJs spin tunes and the party spills out into the yard area at the front.
What’s on the menu? Mostly modern classics (negronis, espresso martinis) with a sideline in longer, boozier, pricier numbers.Read more
Venue says: Great for pre- and post-theatre dining in the heart of Soho.
What’s the vibe? It’s party time all the time at this spirited South American spot.
When to visit When you find yourself asking ‘donde esta la fiesta?’
What’s on the menu? If you’re thinking about getting pissed on anything other than Pisco, think again. Discover Peru’s best export, the Pisco Sour.Read more
Venue says: Artisan cocktails blessed the south London way. Blessed happy hour every day from 5pm-8pm.
What’s the vibe? The faux stained glass and Catholic iconography is either charmingly kitsch or downright blasphemous, depending on how you spend your Sabbath.
When to visit Head down on Saturdays from 9pm to catch vinyl-only funk and soul sets from the bar’s resident DJ.
What’s on the menu? It’s experimental, with a whole page given over to south London-inspired mixes.Read more
London's best cocktail bars: 40-31
What’s the vibe? Early-thirties middle-class hen party.
When to visit Payday, or any other time you can guarantee a crowd. You’d feel pretty daft sipping a porn star martini and listening to ‘Parklife’ on your own, after all.
What’s on the menu? Everything is big, brash and boozy, with more than a touch of novelty.Read more
What's the vibe? Tiny, goldfish-bowl bar full of young, friendly Tootingites.
When to visit When you want a slice of Shoreditch without rattling up the Northern Line.
What’s on the menu? Quality bottled beers and cocktails – mostly classic, plus half a dozen in-house creations.Read more
What's the vibe? A quirky but classy hideout serving some of the best cocktails in east London.
When to visit: If you want to avoid the masses when out on a big one in the 'Ditch.
What’s on the menu? Some of the worst/best cocktail puns in London: ‘Sage Advice’, ‘The Fennel Countdown’.Read more
What's the vibe? Luxury hotel mixes with Eurostar bustle, suits and heels mix with train-waiting holiday-seekers.
When to visit Before you get on the train, or between disembarking and heading off to dinner in Granary Square.
What’s on the menu? Classically based cocktails, simple in construction and effect. And check out the punches, served in mugs or bowls.Read more
What’s the vibe? Popular haunt for local in-the-know creative execs who savour the finer things.
When to visit They open until 2am; perfect for when that well-intentioned ‘just one pint after work’ gets out of hand.
What's on the menu? Strong flavours executed with Parisian panache.Read more
What's the vibe? Quasi-Continental outdoor-living people-watching.
When to visit Aim for a sunny summer evening – Granary Square is quite lovely when the sun is setting.
What’s on the menu? Things like this: a bellini made not with peach purée but with celeriac purée; or a ‘Greco-Roman wine’, infused with the likes of smoked paprika cordial.Read more
London's best cocktail bars: 30-21
What’s the vibe? Cosseted, cool hotel bar bringing fashionistas together round the punch bowl.
When to visit Book a table by the fire for an impressively hot date night.
What’s on the menu? Booze! A modern take on a good, old-fashioned bowl of punch.Read more
What's the vibe? Spitalfields hip meets City money, but the only sparks fly from the dreamy drinks.
When to visit For an evening of serious cocktail love, or just while waiting for a table at the nearby Hotbox barbecue palace.
What’s on the menu? Serious, complex cocktails, with brown spirits prominent, which aim for harmony and balance.Read more
What's the vibe? A subterranean hideout metres from the Old Street roundabout.
When to visit If you don’t want live music (and a cover charge), early evening’s best.
What’s on the menu? Some of the most madcap/inventive cocktails in London. Visit to find out what ‘plankton air’ is.Read more
What's the vibe? A young crowd who know a good drink – and a good time – when they taste one.
When to visit On a City cocktail crawl.
What’s on the menu? Cocktails are often served in unusual glassware (and ceramicware) with wacky garnishes, candy floss or noodles among them.Read more
London's best cocktail bars: 20-11
What’s the vibe? A real bartenders' bar – although everyone should go, from accountants to zookeepers.
When to visit On a Dalston night out where you're looking for something more sophisticated.
What’s on the menu? Peerless classics, original inventions without too much showing off.Read more
What’s the vibe? Buzzy hotel bar with jaw-dropping drinks.
When to visit When there’s something to really celebrate (like robbing a bank, perhaps?).
What’s on the menu? Mixology of the highest order – this is cocktail chemistry with way more than a cursory presentational flourish.Read more
What's the vibe? People-watching with the 1 percent.
When to visit Late night – at least you can pretend you’ve got a room upstairs…
What’s on the menu? Make your first stop the martini menu. A trolley is wheeled to your table and the drink’s made right before you.Read more
What's the vibe? International hotel glamour; world-beating drinks.
When to visit A few cocktails here looking out over the Thames makes for a properly classy London night out.
What’s on the menu? All original creations from international startender Ryan Chetiyawardana, aka Mr Lyan.Read more
London's best cocktail bars: the top ten
What's the vibe? Money without snootiness: everyone’s here to cool their heels, whether in Y3’s or Louboutins.
When to visit Earlier in the evening to get a table without a long wait. Late night for people watching.
What’s on the menu? It pushes the envelope with some brave experimentation, but these eagle-eyed bartenders never miss the bullseye.Read more
What’s the vibe? Central London hotel bar without the stuffiness.
When to visit For a post-work drink that beats crowding on a West End pavement with a pint in hand any day.
What’s on the menu? Plenty of puns in the drink names; plenty of sophistication in the glasses.Read more
What's the vibe? Beautiful cocktails in a beautiful Spitalfields setting.
When to visit The list of post-dinner drinks is a corker – make a night of it after steak upstairs.
What’s on the menu? We can’t see past the Shaky Pete’s Ginger Brew – gin, lemon, ginger and London Pride beer.Read more
What's the vibe? Seriously laid back, and lively without overbearingly noisy.
When to visit When you want to chill with a proper West End cocktail – but without paying Belgravia prices.
What’s on the menu? Flawless classics that don’t try to improve on what’s already perfect.Read more
What's the vibe? Cocktails you’ve never seen the like of.
When to visit It’s entertaining as well as being trailblazing – a great place for a party or just a few mindblowing cocktails with friends.
What’s on the menu? Ingredients include electric stonefruit brandy, beeswax egg, blackcurrant paint. It’s all amazing.Read more