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. It’s the tiny flagship of bar supremo Tony Conigliaro, noted worldwide for his dedication to the art of the mixed drink. And as you’d expect, the cocktails here are outstanding.
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 sweet spring juleps. 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 colonial explorer 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 Volcano comes laced with peach bitters, and has a sphere of blood orange sorbet bobbing on its surface. These beautiful drinks warrant a visit alone, and you can perch up at the small bar to give them the attention they deserve.
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.
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 Pan Am Cocktail (£8), a frothy blend of rum, Aperol, lemon, syrup, bitters and egg white. Staff are attentive, prices are neighbourhood-friendly, and there’s a photobooth at the back for when you’re feeling merry.
London Cocktail Club knows all about showing guests a good time, so if you’re looking for a party, you’ve come to the right place. The Upper Street branch has a loose pharmacy theme, hidden in true speakeasy style behind a medically inspired shopfront. Order in one of the bar’s takes on the classics – especially during happy hour – and you’ll be feeling better in no time.
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.
Find more amazing places to drink in London
London is known the world over for its traditional pubs. But its quirky bars and top-drawer joints serving cocktails, wine, beer and beyond are just as worthy of your precious drinking time. So, to prove a point, Time Out has pulled together a list of London’s very best bars. Sit up at the bar at these rocking spots and order in a round you definitely won’t forget in a rush.
A canalside gastro-bar in Camden that serves cocktails, burgers and hosts regular club nights throughout the week.
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.”