If you’re stepping straight off the train into King’s Cross, you may be forgiven for thinking there’s not much to its drinking scene. But if you know where to look, there are some great places for wine, spirits, craft booze and beyond. Take a look at our list of the best places to drink in the up-and-coming neighbourhood – from old-school and new-fangled DJ bars to quirky cocktail joints and upmarket wine bars.
RECOMMENDED: Find more fun in the neighbourhood in our King’s Cross area guide
The best bars in King’s Cross
Bars don’t get much smaller than Pepito, whose tall bar stools seat fewer than twenty people. In this case, size doesn’t matter one bit – the intimacy suits the experience, which is all about quiet communion with sherry and tapas in Andalusian style. The sherry list covers all the bases and tapas are flawlessly executed.
The Big Chill House has been going for years and is an icon of the area, even if it’s possibly had its heyday. Housed in a large, difficult building, it can feel a little tumbleweedy on quiet nights; it’s best to head here when DJs are spinning on Fridays and Saturdays. Food includes on-trend tacos and an upstairs patio comes into its own in the summer.
For cocktails and a bit of high-flying in the area, The Booking Office wins. Part of the Renaissance Hotel, it’s a tall-ceilinged place to drink, with dark wood and soaring gothic arches. Cocktails come at hotel prices – around £14 for a drink – but are expertly mixed and include options from a menu of ‘elixirs and potions’ in honour of nearby Platform 9 & 3/4.
Formulaic but effective, Camino gives King’s Cross punters what they need in a night out: a menu for sharing, an open courtyard for social smokers (or those pretending it’s warm enough to sit outside), Latino-inspired DJs, table football and cocktails. Fun, relaxed, and not taking itself too seriously, Camino exudes the true spirit of Spain.
Sure, you know Caravan for its coffee and its continent-hopping small plates, but don’t overlook it as a pretty spot for a well-mixed drink. Crowd-pleasing cocktails – from brunchtime bellinis to spritzes – rub shoulders with originals on the drinks list, including the Flying the Coop, which features ginger, sage and cardamom flavours in among tequila.
Venue says: “Drop in for a coffee by day, stay for drinks and party vibes by night, then return for a chilled bottomless brunch at the weekends!”
Café and craft workshop by day, bar by night, Drink, Shop & Do is known as a one-stop shop for all kinds of good times – from dance classes that teach you to shake like Shakira to musical bingo nights and beyond. Cocktails verge on the sweet side of things but include the millennial girl’s dream: Black and Gold is a cocktail made from Chambord, glitter and prosecco.
Bored of arbitrarily themed Prohibition bars? Dishoom’s Permit Room has its own thing going on, taking inspiration from Bombay’s Prohibition era. It’s a big basement filled with chatter, a waft of incense and the comings and goings of chipper bar staff. Browse a list of juleps, martinis twisted with Indian aromatics, and low-alcohol and virgin cocktails.
The Racketeer is one of the newest additions to the neighbourhood in an unlikely spot along King’s Cross Road. Wooden flooring, royal blue walls, feature tiles and a log-burning stove make it a seriously cosy drinking spot, but it also suits summer with a neat terrace at the rear. House cocktails are classics, some with a gentle twist.
A studenty crowd is drawn to Simmons, with its board games, wobbly furniture and retro music. But in truth, it’s probably the insane happy hour that reels them in, when most prices drop to just £2.50 a drink. Options include cocktails and taps of Meantime beers atop a tiny bar counter, with a fridge dedictaed to bottles of Brooklyn, BrewDog and more.
This spot is one for the music nerds, a ‘listening bar’ and recording studio near Granary Square with a focus on sound quality as well as quality music. It may seem pretentious, but it’s actually a down-to-earth bar where you can get your groove on while you work your way through a modern list of drinks – beers served as schooners, cocktails named after killer LPs and a ‘skin contact’ section on the wine list.
Find more great places to drink wine in London
Forget starchy and old-fashioned. London’s best wine bars are bringing the humble grape to cool crowds of discerning drinkers. Find cosy, bistro-style settings, sophisticated bars that are great for date night, or hip Hackney hangouts where wine is the drink du jour. Discover everything from natural wines to grapes from far-flung vineyards, plus service from knowledgeable, approachable staff. One thing is for certain, you’ll find more than a bargain bin Sauv Blanc at these great little grape-peddlers.