Londoners are spoilt for choice when it comes to stepping out for a tipple. There are craft beer pubs, cosy pubs, gin bars and cocktail bars. Then there are the quirky joints… You can settle down for a drink in the surrounds of an old tube carriage, unearth a watering hole hidden behind a fridge door, or sup from a glass of ice while sat on ice in a building made of, you guessed it, ice, and that's only the beginning. We've rounded up the most off-the-wall, quirky bars and pubs London has to offer so you can wet your whistle with the right amount of weird.
Quirky bars and pubs in London
What's quirky about it? Chelsea speakeasies are rare, but Bart’s has been eluding discovery by all but the coolest customers for years. There’s a certain thrill in finding the right door within Chelsea Cloisters and being given the once-over by someone peering through a peephole. Inside, it’s an arty mish-mash with laid-back tipples.
Before you go: Dress up in your finest glad rags to get past the discerning doormen – then head straight for the dressing-up box.
How much? Cocktails from £10.50.
Venue says: “Every Friday from 10pm we host huge games of 'Round the Table' with up to 30 people playing at once, completely free to play - get involved!”
What's quirky about it? This bar’s quirk is the table service –that’s ping-pong tables, folks. Each group spends the evening around their own private ping-pong table, with drinks delivered by dedicated staff. Just don’t suggest a round of beer pong – this is not the student union.
Before you go: Use the bar’s pre-order service to get the drinks in for your arrival – gin is the speciality, with almost 40 premium varieties.
How much? Meal for two including drinks and service: around £80. (Cocktails from £8.75.)
What's quirky about it? Hmm, how long have you got? There’s the stairway pastiche of the Sistine Chapel, the vintage mopeds hanging from the ceilings, the sudden parades of dancing girls, the Eurovision-happy karaoke… Not to mention the fact that it’s named after former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi’s infamous sex parties.
Don't miss: You can’t miss the novelty vessels most cocktails are served in – from a model of the Leaning Tower of Pisa to a bust of Mario Balotelli.
How much? Meal for two including drinks and service: around £75.
What's quirky about it? This speakeasy takes Prohibition seriously – so seriously that, in keeping with the spirit of the time, you’re responsible for bringing your own, er, spirits. Staff will then wheel their antique drinks trolley to your table and mix you a drink based on your preferences.
Don't miss: The bar team’s handmade syrups, bitters, mixers, herbs, cordials, juices, salts, fruits and shrubs – just make sure you bring a worthy enough bottle.
How much? £25 entry fee, free mixers (maximum stay two hours).
What's quirky about it? This disused air-raid shelter has been reinvented as a post-war tube station complete with vintage bric-a-brac, staff enthusiastically in character, and inventive cocktails that nod to rationing. War – what is it good for? Inspiring sunnily nostalgic themed bars, it seems.
Don't miss: The envelope at the back of the menu marked ‘Do Not Open’ – it’s full of black market specials served surreptitiously.
How much? Cocktails from £7-£150.
Venue says: “Winner of the 'world's best high volume bar' at the 2016 Spirited Awards. Open seven days a week 6pm-1am. Cocktail classes also available.”
What's quirky about it? It’s the Narnia of the cocktail world – quite literally. The main parlour hides a bar-within-a-bar that’s called Wonderland, is accessed through the back of a wardrobe and serves suitably imaginative and theatrical cocktails.
Before you go: Book a space upstairs in the teeny, chameleon-like Jubjub lounge, which hosts different bartenders in three-week residencies.
How much? Cocktails from £9.50.
What's quirky about it? This tiny basement bar – a former public convenience – squeezes a lot of gender-bending fun within its walls, including nightly cabaret, burlesque and drag acts. It’s camp, it’s quirky, and it’s not afraid to call one of its cocktails ‘Starbucks must die’.
Don't miss: The chance to order a snort of snuff, which is sold at the bar in various flavours for £7.50 a pop.
How much? Cocktails from £8.90.
What's quirky about it? This supposed firm of private investigators is the Robert De Niro of the speakeasy world – it’s so method, you’ll feel like you’re an extra in ‘LA Confidential’. Don’t be fooled – the ‘curious cases’ are all potable… and it’s down to you to solve them.
Don't miss: Evenings of suitably retro entertainment, from cabaret and burlesque to ‘Chicago’-style gin and jazz nights.
How much? Cocktails from £10.
What's quirky about it? The clue, as they say, is in the name – this modern café and cocktail bar serves excellent hard drinks that have been doctored, either with health-boosting vitamins and superfoods, or with witty additions such as Lucozade syrup. Pharmacological paraphernalia abounds, too.
Don't miss: Sitting up at the bar for banter with the barmen – and the best view of these night nurses preparing customers’ ‘prescriptions’.
How much? Cocktails from £8.
What's quirky about it? Remember when a sesh at the arcades was the best thing you could do with your Friday night? At this, London’s only arcade bar, it still can be. Lose yourself to the retro delights of ‘Pac-Man’, ‘Space Invaders’, ‘Street Fighter’, et al.
Don't miss: There’s nothing retro about the drinks list, which features loads of local craft beers. Committed gaming geeks should opt for the bottomless filter coffee.
How much? Meal for two including drinks: around £20.
Discover London's best cocktail bars
So many cocktails, so little time. So just stick to the best cocktail bars in London by using our ranked list below. You'll find everything from dark and dirty speakeasy joints and secret bars to bold and brash party spots meant for a night out on the tiles. What they all have in common is mixed drinks that will blow your mind – and hopefully not your budget.