Finding a good drink (or three) is not a hard task in Islington. You’ll find classy, buzzing bars with expert cocktail-making staff, as well as upmarket wine spots where they’ll help you get to grips with exciting new flavours. No matter what you're in the mood for, Angel and its surrounding neighbourhoods have lots to offer to those making a night of it. Read on for our pick of the best bars in Islington.
RECOMMENDED: Find more fun in the neighbourhood with our Islington area guide
Best bars in Islington and Angel
‘The bar with no name’, it styles itself – try telling that to a taxi driver. In reality, everyone knows this place by its address, hidden away from the Upper Street hordes on an Islington backstreet. The look is chic, the space is small and the drinks are lip-smacking, outstanding cocktails a cut above the rest in the area.
A short stroll off the main Upper Street drag, this high-ceilinged Canonbury bar is bright and airy yet cosy and discreet. Cocktails are the mainstay here, from barrel-aged negronis to refreshing flavoursome G&Ts. They have a rigorous approach to ingredients with local gin championed and syrups made in-house – and you can really tell.
Hoxley & Porter is a themed bar on Upper Street that hangs on to the petticoats of the 19th-century look. In among the exotic palms, uniformed staff, patterned wallpaper and vintage lighting you’ll find a list of cocktails featuring rum galore and lots of fruity, tropical ingredients.
At this smart fish restaurant on Upper Street, it’s the cocktails that glimmer the greatest. A bubbling prosecco-based DeLight comes laced with hibiscus syrup, with vanilla notes lightly descending on the tastebuds. These beautiful drinks warrant a visit alone, and you can perch up at the small bar to give them the attention they deserve.
The former spot of London Cocktail Club, Irish-run bar Homeboy joined the boozing scene in early 2019. Boasting classic Irish hospitality, a homely setting and tasty drinks without the twee, this Irish pub is a home away from home. Though most drinkers tend to stick to Guinness, many-a-whiskey-based drink can be found in this welcoming watering hole.
Wine lists can often be hard to decipher. Happily, that’s not the case at Humble Grape, where the menu is peppered with informative and funny descriptions. This unpretentious approach to wine is refreshing for upmarket Islington. There’s a relaxed vibe and staff are friendly and knowledgeable, making sure you’re ordering something you’ll like without ever being patronising.
An unlikely tiki paradise lies in wait on Upper Street, brought to the neighbourhood by a former Mahiki bar manager. Kitsch, tropical paraphernalia coats every corner of this bijou bar, and tiki-style drinks are served in custom-made ceramics. Rum drinks are delightful, especially when you can press a buzzer on your table to order them in.
Little Bat helps to elevate the cocktail scene in Angel, brought to the area from the team behind Shoreditch bar Callooh Callay. Grab a booth at the rear and work through drinks as impressive as the Clover Club Cocktail (£8), a tasty blend of tanqueray gin, raspberries, lemon, gomme and egg white. Staff are attentive, prices are neighbourhood-friendly, and there’s a photobooth at the back for when you’re feeling merry.
This neighbourhood wine bar sits on a corner of Mountgrove Road where Highbury, Stoke Newington and Finsbury Park collide. Rare wine takes centre stage, with a young and clued-up couple running the show. It gets busy with local customers, lured in by a hip hop playlist, warm service and top drops of vino. Seek out a carafe of house red with a cheese plate for a bargainous £20.
This Newington Green offy-cum-deli is relaxed and welcoming; foodie but not stuffy. There’s only a handful of tables and the balance between shop and bar feels right. Yield’s selection of wine and beer is handpicked from around the world. It specialises in organic and artisanal producers: be prepared to explore lesser-trodden winelands on the edge of Islington.