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.
London's best cocktail bars: 50-41
What’s the vibe? Scandinavian minimalism meets science lab chic at this basement bar where drinks have been dreamed up by Talented Mr Fox.
When to visit After a slap-up meal at Rok Smokehouse, one of London’s best restaurants, descend for drinks that are just as smokin’.
What’s on the menu? Nordic-ulously good drinks, from tree-infused martinis to dill and cucumber bellinis.
What’s the vibe? Early-thirties middle-class hen party.
When to visit Payday, or any other time you can guarantee a crowd. You’d feel pretty daft sipping a porn star martini and listening to ‘Parklife’ on your own, after all.
What’s on the menu? Everything is big, brash and boozy, with more than a touch of novelty.
Venue says: “Now taking bookings for lunch with a choice of new dishes from soups & salads to burgers & sandwiches and a selection of lunch cocktails.”
What’s the vibe? Buzzy hotel bar with jaw-dropping drinks.
When to visit When there’s something to really celebrate (like robbing a bank, perhaps?).
What’s on the menu? Mixology of the highest order – this is cocktail chemistry with way more than a cursory presentational flourish.
What’s the vibe? Twit twoo. Beneath the Balham branch of Foxlow you’ll find this intimate drinking den dressed to kill in black.
When to visit For a date down south – the mood is just right in the flickering candlelight.
What’s on the menu? A short list of cracking originals and a Hawksmoor classic, Shaky Pete’s Ginger Brew.
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 the vibe? A quirky but classy hideout serving some of the best cocktails in east London.
When to visit: If you want to avoid the masses when out on a big one in the 'Ditch.
What’s on the menu? Some of the worst/best cocktail puns in London: ‘Sage Advice’, ‘The Fennel Countdown’.
Venue says: “Fancy learning a little about rum? Then join us for our weekly 'Rum Chronicles' masterclass.”
What's the vibe? Hungry, thirsty locals and island beats. Yo ho ho!
When to visit Happy times are all the time here, but the actual happy hour is practically ecstatic.
What’s on the menu? Daquiris, zombies, mai-tais… Rum, rum and more rum.
London's best cocktail bars: 40-31
What’s the vibe? A west London hotel bar that’s actually buzzing. Oak-paneled, marble-topped, velvet-lined, classy as hell.
When to visit Make it an all-nighter at K Bar. You’ll struggle to find better drinks in the vicinity.
What’s on the menu? Dessert drinks for the dreamiest of nightcaps.
What's the vibe? Spitalfields hip meets City money, but the only sparks fly from the dreamy drinks.
When to visit For an evening of serious cocktail love, or just while waiting for a table at one of Spitalfields' finest.
What’s on the menu? Serious, complex cocktails, with brown spirits prominent.
What's the vibe? A subterranean hideout metres from the Old Street roundabout.
When to visit If you don’t want live music (and a cover charge), early evening’s best.
What’s on the menu? Some of the most madcap/inventive cocktails in London. Visit to find out what ‘plankton air’ is.
London's best cocktail bars: 30-21
What’s the vibe? Callooh Callay’s sister bar is a veritable library. Get cosy in one of its corners.
When to visit For a silly night out in north London, make a beeline for the bar’s own photo booth.
What’s on the menu? All sorts of swizzles, smashes and sours. Don’t miss the Pan Am.
What's the vibe? Seriously laid back, and lively without being overbearingly noisy.
When to visit When you want to chill with a proper West End cocktail – but without paying Belgravia prices.
What’s on the menu? Flawless classics that don’t try to improve on what’s already perfect.
What’s the vibe? The follow-up to Nightjar – think of Oriole as the flashy little sister. Expect show-stopping glamour and a wall papered in a lush palm tree print.
When to visit Be sure to come after 8.30pm to soak up the atmosphere of a live jazz band.
What’s on the menu? Good luck choosing from this cornucopia of wild cocktails. Drinking here is far from stripped back but boy is it stunning.
What’s the vibe? Popular haunt for local in-the-know creative execs who savour the finer things.
When to visit They open until 2am; perfect for when that well-intentioned ‘just one pint after work’ gets out of hand.
What's on the menu? Strong flavours executed with Parisian panache.
London's best cocktail bars: 20-11
What’s the vibe? A tiny little room with a loose Prohibition theme is low-key enough to let the focus fall on cocktail wizardry.
When to visit Later on in the week when there’s a bit more of a buzz about the place and flapper girl table service feels totally acceptable.
What’s on the menu? Mind-blowing drinks served in even madder glassware.
What’s the vibe? A hidden basement bar on Hackney’s Mare Street where vinyl records are given as much attention as gorgeous drinks.
When to visit For a Sunday session – it stays open until 10pm.
What’s on the menu? Short pousse-café digestifs, drinks paired with oysters and a Manhattan well worth savouring.
What's the vibe? Money without snootiness: everyone’s here to cool their heels, whether in Y3’s or Louboutins.
When to visit Earlier in the evening to get a table without a long wait. Late night for people watching.
What’s on the menu? It pushes the envelope with some brave experimentation, but these eagle-eyed bartenders never miss the bullseye.
What's the vibe? As imaginative a bar as you’ll see in London, with cocktails to match.
When to visit When you’re maxed-out with the minimalist style of other bars.
What’s on the menu? It’s a small but creative list of small but creative cocktails.
What’s the vibe? Rocking apothecary with white-tiled walls and pharmaceutical gear. You’re sure to get hooked.
When to visit On a Friday or Saturday night when it’s strictly playtime. See if you can find their secret bar within a bar, Blinders.
What’s on the menu? Doctor’s orders: get yourself a Brockwell Park Bramble, which comes with a syringe of Chambord. Feeling better?
London's best cocktail bars: the top ten
What's the vibe? Beautiful cocktails in a beautiful Spitalfields setting.
When to visit The list of post-dinner drinks is a corker – make a night of it after steak upstairs.
What’s on the menu? We can’t see past the Shaky Pete’s Ginger Brew – gin, lemon, ginger and London Pride beer.
What’s the vibe? Tokyo street signage, photogenic neon and brash hip hop make for one vibrant setting where Londoners will feel well at home.
When to visit You could come for a pre-dinner drink, but we say make a night of it down here. Order incredible Japanese bar snacks from Sosharu upstairs, instead.
What’s on the menu? Perfectly balanced, Asian-inspired drinks. The Champagne Papi requires audience participation.
Venue says: “Every bottle of liquor in the house is £9 a double! Sample some top-shelf delights 'til your heart's content, without breaking the bank.”
What's the vibe? A young crowd who know a good drink – and a good time – when they taste one.
When to visit On an east London cocktail crawl.
What’s on the menu? Cocktails are often served in unusual glassware (and ceramicware) with wacky garnishes, candy floss or noodles among them.
What's the vibe? International hotel glamour; world-beating drinks.
When to visit A few cocktails here looking out over the Thames makes for a properly classy London night out.
What’s on the menu? All original creations from international startender Ryan Chetiyawardana, aka Mr Lyan.
What's the vibe? Cocktails you’ve never seen the like of.
When to visit It’s entertaining as well as being trailblazing – a great place for a party or just a few mindblowing cocktails with friends.
What’s on the menu? Ingredients include electric stonefruit brandy, beeswax egg, blackcurrant paint. It’s all amazing.
What's the vibe? People-watching with the 1 percent.
When to visit Late night – at least you can pretend you’ve got a room upstairs…
What’s on the menu? Make your first stop the martini menu. A trolley is wheeled to your table and the drink’s made right before you.
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Since this review was published, Rumpus Room has undergone refurbishment. Time Out Eating & Drinking editors, March 2017. Hotel bars used to be the straight-laced kind of place you’d take your ’rents. Not so at the Mondrian, where Dandelyan has been winning awards on the ground floor while level 12’s Rumpus Room has stayed a bit of an inside secret. Now this chic bar is ready to welcome the world, with a terrace overlooking St Paul’s and DJs to lure sophisticated after-workers and Friday night socialites. I say socialites, since the venue claims to take its cue from the Bright Young Things, a group of hedonists followed by the tabloids in the 1920s. Think England’s non-fiction ‘Great Gatsby’ (or the ’20s version of the sidebar of shame). In truth, the theme’s not obvious, but the setting is pure style. Waitresses work the room in floaty, floral numbers you’d expect to see on Kate Moss in the French Riviera. And she’d probably approve of their way (a million miles from ‘basic bitch’ service). There are mauve banquettes, glittering chandeliers, and a shiny gold bar, but it’s the view that really wins the crowd. Stick around for sunset, when the room gets more blingy. Don’t expect such an atmosphere without paying a pretty penny; solid classic cocktails cost £14. My paloma was faultless, but my bank card withered when I promptly reached the bottom of the glass. Stick with champagne cocktails to feel more at peace; after all, Rumpus Room is an occasion bar. We can’t vouch for
Venue says: “Come and enjoy the re-imagined Rumpus Room, sipping on cocktails alongside the dramatic views of the River Thames and St Paul''s Cathedral.”