The best bars in Brixton
Part of a mini chain that’s branching out in Brixton, Barrio is colourful and full of the unexpected – which includes a caravan that’s been made into a seating area. Cocktails play with flavours from South America and bar snacks are a cut above the usual, from delicate ceviche to banging pork belly sliders.
A bar-within-a-bar out the back of Herne Hill’s medical-themed First Aid Box (see below), Blinder has got a run-down Prohibition vibe. It’s named after gritty Brummie gangster series ‘Peaky Blinders’, so the look makes sense. Cocktails with dark spirits at their base are served in this low-lit, wood-clad watering hole. Blinder by name, blinder by nature.
There’s an industrial glamour to this bar that mirrors its sister joint Martello Hall in Hackney. The space is a cavernous concrete shell dotted with metal fixtures and faux-Tiffany lamps giving a faded art deco grandeur. The drinks menu is impressive with inventive takes on classic cocktails, a great selection of wine on tap, and a fine choice of absinthe, which they serve in the classic French style. The bar also plans to produce its own gin.
From the team behind fellow Brixton bar the Shrub and Shutter is this pharmacy-themed wonder. Work your way through cocktails served with a syringe on the side in the surrounds of clinical white tiled walls and shelves of pseudo-pharmacological gear. Although the gimmicks are a little heavy, the flavours are just what the doctor ordered. Don’t miss Blinder (listed above), the bar’s own speakeasy located at the rear.
This cool cocktail spot is attached to a Brixton branch of Chicken Shop and attracts a crowd of young Brixtonites – the mood-lighting brings in a fair few couples for date-night nightcaps. The cocktail list is well curated, with just eight options to choose from, mostly using whisky or rum and all priced at £8. And if that doesn’t lure you in, how about a foosball table?
The Naughty Piglets may tempt in passers-by with delicious dishes and small plates, but its real passion is natural and low-intervention wines. The French husband-and-wife team source bottles from small producers all around the world to serve up to locals out on date night or oenophiles keen to expand their wine horizons.
This eclectic jumble of shipping containers is home to street food stalls, restaurants and shops – and of course, the odd bar or two. Our favourite is Donostia Social Club (see above), but you can also grab a pint at Brixton Port Authority, where beers are sourced from south London breweries – from Gipsy Hill to Anspach & Hobday. Neighbouring bar S11 does a strong line in spiced rum. Or time your visit to Pop to tie in with tastings at The New Zealand Cellar – the UK’s only retailer solely dedicated to wines from NZ.
The Rum Kitchen crew are cranking up the Caribbean heat at this third site on Brixton’s Coldharbour Lane. Rum, unsurprisingly, is the star attraction – there are enough choices to sink a pirate ship – and it's best tried out in one of their original cocktails. Booth seats to the rear allow visitors to explore jerk chicken dishes, rotis and curries to a blaring dancehall soundtrack.
This vaguely Spanish-style bar in Brixton’s Market Row is fitted with mismatched furniture and a bar; a tangle of flexes above supply the bare-filament bulbs. Cocktails are straightforward and made with care using a growing range of Spanish spirits stocking the back bar. Beers and wines are Iberian too. Wrap up warm in winter – market chills aren’t particularly reminiscent of the Costa del Sol.
An alchemist’s laboratory of tinctures, potions and spirits dominates the tiny and sometimes frenetic front room at Shrub & Shutter, a cocktail bar on Coldharbour Lane. Puns are used with abandon on the drinks list – gimmicky though this may all be, the cocktails are expertly made and will wake you up big time when paired with the bar’s blaring hip hop soundtrack.
Sister bar to Seven at Brixton (see above), Three Eight Four has an eight-strong cocktail list that uses a range of international flavours, while the food largely focuses on Spanish bites and snacks. Order a round of padrón peppers and wash them down with a Sweet And Sour Sake. During a daily happy hour (5-8pm), cocktails will set you back just a fiver. Perch at the bar or take to a small table for the best vantage point when admiring the artfully distressed interior.