London's best restaurants for cocktails
Picantería and pisco bar Andina is the perfect place to sup Peru’s national cocktail, the creamy, zingy (and not at all eggy) Pisco Sour, based on the Andean brandy. Once you’ve tried the original version, sample the lychee-infused Tamaya or a honey-laced Barsol quebranta pisco. With ten different piscos that all pair perfectly with the Nikkei dish, ceviche, what’s not to love?
Drink this: Pisco Sour — 1615 pisco from quebranta grape, lime juice, sugar syrup, egg white, Peruvian Chuncho bitters
Bao’s popular Soho branch has a newer, bigger and better Fitzrovia sibling. Central to the upgrade is a drinks list focusing on sake and cocktails named after Taiwanese films, designed by award-winning bartender Ryan Chetiyawardana, AKA Mr Lyan. Take a seat at the U-shaped counter and watch the mixologist at work with Asian-inspired concoctions including Ashes of Time (Linie Akvavit, soy, guava miso and thai basil) and The Mad Monk (Mr Lyan’s Diamond Rickey, fino, pickled cucumber and soda).
Drink this: Pink Force Commando — Metaxa 7 Star, galangal, lemon, red fruit bitters
Exactly as it says on the tin, this dimly lit Dalston hotspot is the place to go for an upscale take on the dirty fried chicken shop – with a sour cocktail instead of a can of Irn Bru. The House Fry of free-range, herb-fed Yorkshire drumstick and thigh with pickled watermelon (practically one of your five-a-day) goes down delightfully with a tequila-based Penicillin or any of the refreshing sours – a snip at £6. Take a window seat for optimal hipster-watching.
Drink this: Chick ’n’ Club — gin, sugar, lemon, raspberry and chilli vinegar, vermouth, sour
A huge multi-roomed restaurant styled on 1960s Bombay cafés, Dishoom is as worthwhile visiting for the cocktails as for the signature black house daal. Consumed at the long retro bar or with dinner, drinks based on Prohibition times contain Indian ingredients such as Thums Up spiced cola, tea or even chai syrup. Signatures include the Velvette Fogg with chai ice cream, coffee liqueur and vodka, and the Thunderball with sloe gin fizz, Thums Up and popping candy. Sweet tooth compulsory.
Drink this: Thums Up Flip — cola reduction, egg nog, cream and Johnny Walker Black Label
Those tired of queueing at Soho’s ever-growing list of no-reservations venues should book a table at Gregory Marchand’s stylish Frenchie. With a short rotating drinks menu featuring a different cocktail of the week, there are refreshing options such as Ma Sherry Pink Pepper featuring pink pepper gin, or Apple is the New Orange with bulleit rye, to accompany the must-eat bacon scones. Take a bar seat for people watching, or grab a more intimate table or booth.
Drink this: Frenchman in New York — Fords gin, Earl Grey, Acqua di Cedro Nardini and Lemon Verbena
Few London eateries present cocktails as beautifully as Galley, so this is the place to come if you want to impress. Hugely popular is the Prosecco and gin-based Pomegranate Trust, served in a long glass coated in icing sugar with dark chocolate powder at the base. For something sweeter, try a Piña Colada finished with a blowtorch or an NYURC – Not Your Usual Rum and Coke, complete with egg white. Sit at the counter to watch the cocktail magic unfurl.
Drink this: Pomegranate Trust — Whitley Neill gin, Briottet Prickly Pear, pomegranate juice, Prosecco
With an extensive cocktail list divided into anti-fogmatics (gin and campari with your morning marmalade, anyone?), pre-prandial (gin and orange curaçao), post-prandial (digestifs like Espresso martini), ‘bridging’ drinks (Fruit Cup for the dreaded after-lunch lull), ‘cards and cigars’ (short, serious and strong, à la Mad Men) and finally ‘disco drinks,’ (a banana daiquiri will certainly get the party started), Hawksmoor has something for everyone. Sip an anti-fogmatic Ginger Brew with short rib nuggets at the bar before heading to a table for a juicy steak and an excellent post-prandial.
Drink this: Shaky Pete’s Ginger Brew — gin, homemade ginger syrup and lemon juice, topped with London Pride
Recently voted the UK’s best Indian by Restaurant magazine, it’s no wonder shoebox-sized Hoppers boasts one of the longest queues in all of no-reservation Soho. Alongside Sri Lankan-style bowl-shaped savoury crepes from the family behind Michelin-starred Gymkhana, there’s a winning cocktail menu with Asian ingredients such as turmeric, cinnamon and cardamom, and refreshing softs such as Rhubarb and Lankan Ginger. Skip dessert and go straight to the toasted marshmallow-topped Burgher Sour.
Drink this: Burgher Sour — Genever, jasmine, buttermilk, lemon, vanilla sugar and toasted marshmallow
Inspired by Japan’s izakayas — drinking holes serving tapas-style dishes — Kurobuta offers Aussie-Japanese dishes such as BBQ pork belly buns alongside a classy cocktail menu specialising in sake. The loud, buzzy post-work vibe makes it ideal for sharing dishes over Japanese cocktails with a western twist: think Sake Caipirinha or a Sake Melon Slush with fresh watermelon, ginger, vodka, sake, honey and lime.
Drink this: Saketini — Meijou Futsushu cranberry, lychee and plum-infused sake
Serial restaurateur Jason Atherton is renowned for his exceedingly good cocktails, and his French bistro, Little Social, is no exception. With a new menu inspired by French ingredients, you’ll find everything from the peach wine-based Le Petit Aperitif to the sweet Café Francais, but the real pièce de résistance is the Grown-up Carambar, designed to taste just like the classic French sweet, using salted butter caramel, Bacardi 8, P.X. and Amontillado.
Drink this: Grown-up Carambar — Bacardi 8, P.X. and Amontillado, salted butter caramel
Find more cocktails in London
You'll get way more than a G&T and a pack of pork scratchings in London's best cocktail bars. The capital keeps on serving up innovative neighbourhood hangouts as well as pioneeringly pistine hotel bars where cocktails are big on the agenda. So don't just rely on our cracking list of the 50 best cocktail bars in London, but also browse below to find exactly what's on the menu. This is pure cocktail geekery as London does best.
Snap up exclusive discounts in London
Time Out's handpicked deals — hurry, they won't be around for long...