You’re not short of bar options in NW1. Find everything from modern craft beer bars, to late-night party venues and quirky joints serving up even quirkier drinks. At these places you’ll find unbeatable happy hours, live music and – without doubt – interesting people. It’s Camden's best bars.
RECOMMENDED: Find even more fun nearby in our Camden area guide
The best bars in Camden
This lively bar-diner on the main Camden drag celebrates American musical heritage in song, spirits and sustenance. Get in a mess with gumbo and buffalo wings. Then work your way through around 50 bourbons in a variety of categories, some used as bases for cocktails. The bar has since spawned two sister sites in town.
The Scottish craft brewery’s first London outpost worships beer on a Camden backroad. Admit to a bartender you’ve no idea where to start and they’ll gladly guide you through the list, offering tasters – and what a list it is. Brewdog has since taken over the capital, but see where the London story began right here.
BYOC stands for ‘Bring Your Own Cocktail’ – which you may think defeats the whole point of a bar. But if you bring a bottle of booze, mixologists will mix you up cocktails using their stash of syrups, mixers and bitters. The speakeasy setting and theme makes for a novel night out.
Camden Assembly retains its reputation for seven-day championing of cool and upcoming talent, making it a destination venue for serious music fans and partygoers alike. But its ground-floor bar also welcomes in those who are just after a pint and a burger in a buzzing setting. Lucky Chip are serving their famous finger-licking grub down here.
Camden Town Brewery may have outgrown its railway arch premises near Kentish Town West – they’ve in fact opened a super-brewery outside of Camden in Enfield – but this taproom remains in the ’hood. Sample the full range – from Hells to Gentleman’s Wit – and munch on street food from vendors who park up outside.
Although Cottons is primarily a Caribbean restaurant doling out fried plantain and curried mutton to regulars, its bar holds a collection of 250 different rums in stock, with many weaved into original cocktail recipes. For Caribbean warmth try a Jamaican mule or a Cotton’s pina colada.
Although it’s away from the ever-busy heart of Camden, Fifty-Five is party central. Its dog-leg terrace spread over a corner, the bar fills with a loud crowd of late teens here to breeze through happy hour and beyond. Two-fers are offered on cocktails during happy hours; no wonder it gets a little boisterous.
For a small place this bar manages to pack in a lot of fun. Whatever genre the DJ's spinning (usually old rock 'n' roll tunes) the dancefloor will be full of people having a late-night boogie. The bar kicks back until 3am every night of the week, so swing (sometimes literally) by when your Camden crawl doesn’t show signs of slowing.
Venue says: “Happy hour every Friday. Half-price bottles of prosecco (just £15) and buy one get one half-price on Camden Town Brewery Hells and Pale Ale.”
This first-floor boathouse-like venue makes great use of its location. It’s occasionally hired for private parties but when it’s open to all, you can gaze over the twinkling lights around the lock and the bobbing barges as you knock back Boilermakers. If it’s too nippy, the interior is long and artily loft-like.
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The menu is housed in an empty cassette case, the toilet is hidden behind a secret door in the wall and the cocktails have such cringe-o names as 'Ume? Yes You' and 'Fennel Countdown'. Sure, Callooh Callay sounds gimmicky, but the tipples at this long-established Shoreditch bar are the real deal. The staff are friendly and knowledgeable (no moody, 'I'm actually in a band’ hipsters serve here) and mix delectable elixirs like vodka and rhubarb with vanilla shrub and whisky with apricot jam and chocolate bitters (just ignore the names). The exposed brick walls, Milk Tray-coloured soft furnishings and abundance of tealights make Callooh Callay a very cosy spot to sit. Neither trashy nor pretentious, the vibe here is fun but still stylish, and, unlike in neighbouring bars, you won't be surrounded by swarms of obnoxious suits or stag-dos.
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.”