The best bars in London Bridge
214 Bermondsey is dedicated to the spirit that sent London staggering into the gutter during the eighteenth century: gin. The back bar holds more than 100 bottles of the stuff: some of it comes from ‘just up the road’ in SE1 (Jensen), some from California (Junípero). All come with clever tasting notes and details of the botanicals involved.
You come to this bar at The Shard for the views, let’s face it. But cocktails are decent, with a doffed cap to Britishness on the menu in an otherwise globally unspecific space. Bookings aren’t required, although the earlier you arrive the better your pick of the vistas.
This unique branch of the Balls Brothers wine bar chain just a skip from London Bridge station has a Thames-side setting and its own petanque pitch. Food tends to be classic bar fare (burgers, fish and chips, caesar salad), while the drinks menu is all about that wine. Whisky, gin and sherry also get some time in the spotlight.
Bermondsey Distillery is the south London home to Jensen's Gin. Next to Maltby Street Market, on market days (Saturdays) and on Sundays the distillery is open to the general public for gin tastings and longer drinks. Avid gin drinkers can book distillery tours in advance for groups of 10-20 people to explore the Jensen's range in further detail.
A car park that’s been converted into a restaurant, Bermondsey Yard Café is a pretty buzzy spot for a drink near London Bridge. Although the focus is on the eats, the venue comes to life at night and on the weekends thanks to occasional beer festivals, live music and a heated terrace that’s seriously in demand.
‘JHn. Davy Free Vintner’ reads the sign on the wall of an empty Borough side street, and the interior is just as old-fashioned and historic, a creaking, multi-layered wine cave with a popular kitchen – don’t miss out on steak washed down with a cracking glass of red. Customers include local office types as well as older generation wine buffs.
Doodle Bar arrived in Bermondsey after its days were numbered as an immersive bar in Battersea. It brings with it the same playful attitude, with customers encouraged to scrawl up the walls made up entirely of blackboards. There’s also a foosball table at the front, rows of ping pong tables to the rear and a street food van that parks up at the entrance on weekends.
Up on the 52nd floor of The Shard, you’ll spend a lot of time toiling to pick out landmarks from Gong bar within the Shangri-La Hotel. Enjoy the spectacle with a pricey cocktail in hand – the current drinks menu takes inspiration from the great film directors for no reason whatsoever.
Craft beer breweries are ten a penny in Bermondsey, but Hawkes is London’s very first cidery. Visit the taproom to try a full fleet of ciders in flights or by the pint – you can choose from ciders all around the land or ones made right here on the premises. How do you like them apples?
Venue says The Hawkes Cidery & Taproom is where get to celebrate everything we love about the incredible world of craft cider.
Hide Bar has stood at the centre of Bermondsey’s night life scene for over ten years and sticks to the formula of cocktails and craft ales. The bar stays relevant by stocking the latest bevvies produced here in London and using them in original cocktail creations, including pale ales and gins made just around the corner.
Say hola to excellent Spanish wine and sherry at this dinky tapas bar from José Pizarro. It’s rustic and authentic, dressed in plain brick, timbers and tiles; seating is mostly on stools, with barrels to stand glasses on.
The Peckham gin brand Little Bird has a weekend residency at Maltby Street Market where the team serve up a full range of cocktails with the zesty gin at their base. Try a pineapple hot toddy in winter or a recovery Red Snapper (that’s a bloody mary with gin in place of vodka).
Discover interesting wine from the Iberian Peninsula at this trendy grey and geometric-tiled wine bar attached to Portuguese restaurant Londrino. The drinks are seriously on-trend (port and tonic, vinho verde, natural wine), the cheese plate is oozing with curiousities and the staff are clued up on their Portuguese booze.
Nine Lives feels like a covert jungle hangout but it’s in the depths of London Bridge. The bar serves fruity cocktails that are kind on the environment and are served in Tiki mugs and with exotic garnishes. And a sound track of disco grooves sounds polished as it’s piped in through speakers inherited from Cable night club.
Find a touch of Mexico next to music venue Omeara, at this ‘cantina’ modelled on the watering holes of Central and South America. There’s a petite, pergola-decked terrace on the first floor and a vine-clad island bar back inside. Most punters are in for pre-gig pints but a menu of tequila and margaritas is worth seeking out.
Just a short walk from The Bermondsey Beer Mile, you’ll find this bar, home to some of London’s finest breweries. Three of the bar’s six taps are reserved for nearby Fourpure. The other three taps rotate with beers from the likes of Anspach & Hobday and Brew by Numbers – both local and both fantastic.
Another bar within the Flat Iron Square complex, Tap & Bottle specialises in wine on tap. Choose from 12 wines on keg, which range from red, white and rosé to sparkling and sweet. The decor is rustic, with wooden stools and floorboards, vintage-looking lamps and that quintessential modern wine bar feature, exposed brick walls.
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