Thanks to chain bars pumping out low-grade drinks, happy hours in London can get a bad rep. However, there are plenty of quality establishments offering decent prices at surprisingly decent locations. After all, we have some of the best drinking establishments on the planet, from cocktail bars to good old traditional pubs serving craft beer.
So we've put together our favourite happy hours in London - from Kings Cross to Battersea, Carnaby Street to Clapham, these lot make it cheap and easy to get merry with your nearest and dearest any day of the week. Cheers!
London's best happy hours
£3 beers, house wines and (at weekends) bloody marys. Mon–Wed, 4–8pm; Sat–Sun, noon–4pm.
From the outside, this huge concrete slab of a pub smack in the middle of a busy Hackney high street doesn’t exactly scream ‘Garden of Eden’. But step inside and it’s all relaxing atmosphere, pretty stained glass windows, a peaceful mix of locals, families and beards, and a holy grail of cheap booze that even Adam and Eve would sin for. The deals bless every day of the week with beer, ale and wine for just £3 until 8pm (noon–4pm weekends, when bloody marys are also on offer). People quietly chat along and it never gets too packed, so it’s the perfect place for a calm, midweek pint. Happy hour heaven.
Two-for-one cocktails. Daily, 5-7pm.
A year-round rooftop bar with a daily drinking deal; if those words don’t make you happy, you’re quite possibly dead inside. Bar Elba is a couple of stories up from the frazzled commuters at Waterloo Station. Waiting out the rush hour from this sanctuary in the sky is quite frankly a no-brainer, especially when you throw the bar’s daily happy hour into the mix: Elba offers two cocktails for the price of one across its whole menu. That means cut-price spritzes, frosés and porn star martinis. Most drinks ordinarily hover close to £10, so that means £5 cocktails with a rooftop view a part of the bargain. See you up there.
£7 for two cocktails. Daily, 6–7pm.
This place is Peckham’s trendy side personified, railway arch and all. If topknots make you wish you were Edward Scissorhands you’d best steer clear, but that will mean missing out on Bar Story’s fine selection of cocktails. Old friends – white russians, caipirinhas, fruit daiquiris – are on offer alongside a few more inventive options such as the ‘Bar Story Bonfire’ (gin, kiwi, mint and elderflower), among which we’ve never found a dud. Staff are efficient but they’re no match for the throng of determined and thirsty punters that quickly gathers. You’ll probably wait up to ten minutes to order so find a patient cocktail buddy who’ll get the next round and make sure they’re in the queue well before the clock strikes sad-to-be-paying-full-price-hour.
Venue says: “Our flagship bar, cantina and club, featuring colourful quirky interiors, delicioso cocktails, live entertainment and DJs until dawn.”
£5.50 cocktails, £3.50 beer, £5 off bottles of wine. All-day Mon; Tue–Sat, 4–8pm; all-day Sun.
Sure, the decor of this Shoreditch bar’s all day-glo, kitschy tropicalia and the drinks menu features bonkers creations including a cocktail that’s served in a porcelain Lucha Libre mask. But kookiness isn’t the order of the day when it comes to the cut-price drinks offerings: it’s just classic booze, served up cheap. There are selected £3.50 bottles of beer on offer, there’s a fiver off bottles of wine and a five-quid selection of classic cocktails (mojito, caipirinha, margarita). Although adventurous types won’t be totally disappointed – there’s also a twist on a piña colada that involves colouring it with Blue Curacao, plus a crème de pêche/rum creation called (wait for it) ‘Papa Don’t Peach’. Bravo.
£5 daiquiris, rum punches and old fashioneds. £5 beer with a rum shot chaser. Daily, 5-8pm.
Get on your Cuban heels for a night in the depths of Marylebone. This basement rum den is dressed up like something out of Colonial Cuba, with tropical palms shooting out from dark corners and Latino rhythms filling the air. To help get into the groove, happy hour kicks off at clocking-off time and includes classic cocktails with a healthy kick of – you guessed it – rum. If cocktails really aren’t your bag, check out a deal that gives you a bottle of beer followed by a rum shot as a chaser for a total of five English pounds. Happy days.
£5 cocktails, £2.50 house bottled beers. Mon-Sun, 4–7pm.
For those in search of a happy hour where you don’t need to pitch a tent to get served, this table-football bar on Exmouth Market is the place to go. Even at the late end of a Friday evening happy hour the vibe’s surprisingly relaxed, with most of the punters – hipster-professionals starting their weekend – outside in a cloud of smoke. With an easy-going salsa soundtrack picked by easy-going staff, and Barca and AC Milan scarves hanging amongst the roughspun decor, nobody would blame you for thinking you’re in northern Spain rather than Clerkenwell. The beers are international, the tapas unfussy, and if some cocktails are better than others (the caipirinha ticks all boxes; the Jamaican mule lacked the obligatory punch), you’ll let it go because the overall experience is massive bloody fun. The same deals are also available at Bar Kick on Shoreditch High Street.
Venue says: “Join us for Aperitivo Time! Get £5 spritz cocktails and complimentary nibbles, every Monday to Friday, 4-7pm.”
Cocktails £5. Mon-Fri 4–7pm.
A cute and cosy underground cocktail cellar in the dead zone near Victoria station injects more excitement into proceedings with a three-hour deal on aperitivo cocktails. They’re traditional Italian drinks, from a spritz to a vermouth-spiked Pimlicano. All are served with unlimited nibbles for even more happiness during happy hour. Pair this with a soundtrack of gentle Americana from the likes of the Shins and you have yourself a pretty damn civilised happy hour that fits the backstreets of Pimlico perfectly.
It would be rude not to get down and dirty in the West End. Six days a week, this hot-dog and sticky rib-centric basement bar and restaurant offers 'high fives and good vibes' for those making a mad dash from their desk for delicious cocktails. The six cocktails are canine-themed, with the Top Dog (vodka, prosecco, Chambord, strawberry, lemon) proving popular among those with sweeter palates, while the Deputy Dog (tequila, blood orange, mint, lime, Ting) is a winner for bitter boozing. There’s also an offer on bottles of Portobello Pilsner. We can confirm the bite of this happy hour is as good as its bark.
£5 Taptails, £9 pizza and a drink. Daily, 4-7pm.
Make happy hour aperitivo time at The Drunken Oyster, a flashy Italian-American-themed watering hole above Jason Atherton pizza joint Hai Cenato. Here, they’ve got taptails on special offer. ‘What’s a taptail?’, we hear you ask. Well, they’re cocktails on tap (AKA the best thing since sliced bread). There’s three of these innovations on offer, and during the bar’s happy hour, they’ll set you back just a fiver. Choose from a spritz, a bellini or an Amalfi 75, a twist on the classic French 75 that switches out the gin and replaces it with limoncello and Italicus bergamot liqueur. If you’re after something more substanstial but still fancy living the dolce vita during happy hour, grab yourself any drink and pizza for £10.
Venue says: “Two-for-one on cocktails, Peroni Rossa, glasses of house wine and prosecco every day from 5-7pm.”
Two-for-one cocktails, two-for-one on house beer bottles and two-for-one on glasses of house wine and prosecco. Daily, 5-7pm.
This is a crowd-pleasing kind of happy hour, set bang in the middle of central London and covering all the bases: cocktails, house beers, house wines and even house fizz in the form of prosecco fall under the daily two-for-one deal. Pretty decent when ordinarily, the average price of a single cocktail is £10. Not only that, but you can spread yourself out in the basement bar's 'grand hall' behind a secret door or in the ‘vault’ even further underground. Although the cocktail list is a modern offering, the theme is vaguely Victorian. Time to party like it's 1889.
Find more ways to get your kick in London bars
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.