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Photograph: Permit Room
Photograph: Permit Room

The best bars for low-alcohol drinks in London

Low- and no-alcohol options abound in London bars. Check out these spots if you’re looking for a light night out

Angela Hui
Written by
Laura Richards
Written by
Angela Hui
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Whether easing back in after Dry January or looking for a lighter night out, go low at one of these excellent London bars and pubs, or select a few from this list for a more restrained bar crawl. Find craft beer bars serving low-ABV brews and world-winning cocktail bars mixing up a storm minus the hard liquor. It’s time to get low in London.

The best London bars for low-alcohol drinking

The Arbitrager
  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • City of London
  • price 2 of 4

This slick, pocket-sized spot in the City proves craft beer’s popularity has spread way beyond the hipster audience. Those drinking in moderation in the financial district (who?!) but still after a craft fix can sample low-alcohol beers put together by Small Beer Brewing Company, whose drinks are made sustainably and weigh in under 2.1 percent ABV.

  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Old Street
  • price 2 of 4

Not drinking? Award-winning neighbourhood bar Tayēr + Elementary has got you covered with their ‘I’m not drinking’ series. Nab a seat at the minimalistic industrial space, and work your way through the ever-changing bar menu. Bartender Alex Kratena puts as much thought into their non-alcoholic creations as their alcoholic drinks. Often, supplementing with Seedlip, Everleaf or Aecorn aperitifs.

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Draft House
  • Bars and pubs
  • Pubs
  • Tower Bridge

This member of the Draft House chain – a brand of bars fit for beer lovers, serving craft goodness galore – is based by Tower Bridge and like its sister bars, it supplies interesting drinks to non-drinkers as well as craft beer lovers. Low options include Big Drop’s Chocolate Milk Stout, clocking in at just 0.5 percent ABV.

El Vermut
  • Bars and pubs
  • Wine bars
  • Nunhead

It’s quite easy to watch your booze levels at El Vermut, a cute Nunhead bar specialising in Spanish vermouth. A whole host of vermouths are on offer and hover around the 15 percent ABV mark – so swap out your standard G&T for a V&T instead and let the lighter times roll. Not into vermouth? Give the same treatment to sherry or port instead. All pair excellently with a rustic tapas platter. 

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Spitalfields
  • price 2 of 4

The group of Hawksmoor restaurants are probably best-assosiated with indulgence and excess – from steak and lobster to mega-bucks bottles of Chateauneuf-du-Pape. But you can keep things low at this basement bar if you so choose. Their menu of ‘bridging drinks’ are designed for ‘lighter afternoon drinking’. So knock back a Cobbler or a Hawksmoor Cup in safe knowledge that you won’t be feeling too squiffy on your way back up the stairs.

  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Dalston
  • price 2 of 4

At Three Sheets, decor is stripped back: less is more. That may seem to be the case with the drinks too at first glance of the menu – both a Whisky Soda and a Cosmo live on the short and sweet menu. But all drinks use some serious science-type stuff to elevate them to something magical. Select from the ‘one sheet’ section of the menu for tipples low on alcohol that won’t leave you three sheets to the wind.

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Hoxton
  • price 2 of 4

If you’re off the sauce, give Nightjar’s Prohibition low-alcoholic and alcohol-free tipples. Try the Black Velvet 8 cocktail made with einstock porter, tree spirit nightcap, avua cachaca amburana and rakomelo spiced mead. Or, the Adonis 8 using orange wine, aperitivo professore, fino sherry glinavos barrel aged tsipouro and muyu vetiver gris liqueur.

  • Bars and pubs
  • Hackney

Although this Hackney boozer is run by craft beer brewery Five Points, a fleet of Square Root London sodas are in stock for the non-drinkers. The soft-drink producer is based just moments away, so these are as fresh as they come. Choose from alcohol-free seasonal sodas and low-ABV shandies brewed in collaboration with some of London’s finest beer bods. All in the comfort of a lovingly refitted pub. Plus, they serve pizzas that are perfect for soaking up booze from even the smallest of sessions.

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • London Bridge
  • price 2 of 4

A basement bar with a tropical theme and serious jungle grooves, Nine Lives is a pretty on-trend place to drink. Especially when you take into account the selection of ‘Lowrider’ cocktails on the drinks menu. They use base tipples like port and prosecco instead of harder liquor to keep ABVs lower than you’d find in your classic cocktails.

  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • King’s Cross
  • price 2 of 4

Dishoom’s Permit Room takes inspiration from Bombay’s own Prohibition era when the public needed a licence to drink alcohol based on ‘medical’ grounds. Nowadays, the reverse is in play, with the bar offering sanctuary to those conscious of their health and choosing to cut back their booze intake instead. A list of slings, coolers and fizzes are lighter cocktails, or pick a sharbat for alcohol-free imbibing.

Looking for more sobering stuff?

Places in London to drink when you’re not drinking
  • Bars and pubs

Whether you’re having a night off or you prefer to swerve the booze altogether, being sober in London doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. These bars also cater to the non-drinkers and provide a great place to party, alcohol-free.

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