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cocktails in london, satan's whiskers
© Kris Piotrowski

The 50 best cocktail bars in London

We’ve ranked the mixmasters making the finest cocktails in town. Scroll on to discover London’s best cocktail bars

Sarah Cohen
Written by
Laura Richards
&
Sarah Cohen
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What’s the best cocktail you’ve had in London? And where did you drink it? In the capital you can find cocktails for every taste, but knowing where to look can be daunting, as there’s so much choice. This is where our ranked list of London’s best cocktail bars comes in. Here you’ll find everything from fancy hotel spots to dark and dirty speakeasies, party places to secret basements. What they all have in common is mixed drinks that will tingle your taste buds and blow your mind. 

Some of these joints stick loyally to the classics – visit Dukes for a Martini you’ll never forget or Bar Termini for a Negroni as good as they come – while others experiment to create the most wildly original cocktails around. You’re guaranteed top-notch tipples whichever bar you choose from our curated list of London’s best places to drink cocktails. Sip on!

London’s very best cocktail bars: ranked

  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Old Street
  • price 2 of 4

ELEMENTARY IS NOW OPEN, TAYĒR IS STILL CLOSED

What’s the vibe? Two star bartenders and their hotly anticipated two-part bar. Elementary is in the front, a laidback daytime hangout serving pre-batched party drinks. Tayēr is in the back and is like a very cool house party but with elevated tipples.

When to visit When you’re hungry. Past kitchen residencies include one from cult sando-makers Tā Tā Eatery.

What’s on the menu? It’s hard to pin down since it’s a constant evolution, particularly in Tayēr. But don’t miss the frozen cocktail in Elementary, which changes on a regular basis, or the One-Sip Martini, a riff on an iconic cocktail.

Swift
  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Soho
  • price 2 of 4

What’s the vibe? Upstairs is a light-filled aperitif bar, downstairs is a brooding basement with a whisky library. Both are brought to you by a world-class drinks team.

When to visit It’s great for a first date. If it’s going well, you can take it downstairs. Wink, wink.

What’s on the menu? The Sgroppino is a prosecco cocktail filled with lemon sorbet. Unmissable.

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Bethnal Green
  • price 2 of 4

What's the vibe? Upmarket mixed drinks in a down-to-earth and devilishly cool location.

When to visit Thursday night; the weekend starts early here.

What’s on the menu? Some of the best cocktails to be found in Bethnal Green’s burgeoning booze scene.

  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Dalston
  • price 2 of 4

What’s the vibe? Diminutive Dalston bar and café run by by brothers Max and Noel Venning and filled with friends.

When to visit When you fancy cocktails on a laidback, neighbourhood level and lit by candlelight.

What’s on the menu? Seasonal drinks with cute little tweaks, like a perfect, pre-batched French 75 poured from a champagne bottle at your table.

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • South Bank
  • price 3 of 4

What’s the vibe? From the team who brought you White Lyan, Super Lyan and Dandelyan, here comes Lyaness. Mr Lyan’s latest bar occupies the same spot as Dandelyan but has a radical new approach to cocktails.

When to visit When you want drinking to be a nerd-out experience.

What’s on the menu? The whizz kids behind the bar have created seven new ingredients (‘infinite banana’ and ‘ultra raspberry’ among them) that form the pillars of a wildly inventive cocktail menu. The White Sbagliato is among our faves.

  • Bars and pubs
  • Hotel bars
  • Mayfair
  • price 4 of 4

What's the vibe? People-watching with the 1 percent.

When to visit As close to late night as possible – 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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  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Bloomsbury
  • price 3 of 4

What's the vibe? If Rick James and Jay Gatsby got together to throw a bash, it would probably look like this hotel bar.

When to visit Head here to kick off an evening on the tiles.

What’s on the menu? The Vesca Negroni is an instant London classic.

FAM
  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Marylebone
  • price 2 of 4

What's the vibe? A home away from home with chummy staff, a wall of vinyl to be treated as your own hipster jukebox and a ‘fam’ photo wall.

When to visit When you’re seeking neighbourhood vibes in the centre of town.

What’s on the menu? The Brand New Shoes, a combination of gin and English sparkling wine with a seasonal sorbet.

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Peckham
  • price 2 of 4

What’s the vibe? A child to South African restaurant Kudu located in a railway arch in Peckham.

When to visit The cosy setting and smiley staff make this ideal for low-key date nights.

What’s on the menu? Reimaginings of the classics using ingredients native to South Africa, from a Naartjie-ito – a zesty spin on the Mojito filled with smashed mandarin oranges – to the Saffa-Rita, a Margarita with chilli tequila and a chakalaka salt rim. All served with a side of biltong.

Punch Room at the London Edition
  • Bars and pubs
  • Fitzrovia
  • price 2 of 4

What’s the vibe? Cosseted, cool hotel bar bringing fashionistas together round the punch bowl.

When to visit Book a table by the fire for an impressively hot date night.

What’s on the menu? Booze! A modern take on a good, old-fashioned bowl of punch.

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Crouch End
  • price 2 of 4

What’s the vibe? Undeniably cool yet unpretentious hangout along the Crouch End Broadway.

When to visit Visit when you’re in need of a fancy drink fix but could do without the pace of central and east London.

What’s on the menu? The Pornstar is a delightful reimagining of the Pornstar Martini. It’s poured straight from a wine bottle so looks like sparkling rosé. Leave the bottle, yeah?

  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Mayfair
  • price 3 of 4

CURRENTLY CLOSED

What’s the vibe? Mayfair luxury meets Moroccan fantasy beneath Momo restaurant at a bar from former American Bar head bartender Erik Lorincz.

When to visit Plan a date night down here or a celebration – the bar offers hotel bar levels of service witout the stuffiness.

What’s on the menu? Original drinks with expensive-sounding ingredients. Order the Our Gimlet for a perfectly perfumey take on a classic.

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Spitalfields
  • price 2 of 4

CURRENTLY CLOSED

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.

  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Soho
  • price 2 of 4

What's the vibe? Lively and always busy, but quiet because of its size.

When to visit Early evenings are perfect for a cocktail before dinner in Soho.

What’s on the menu? Italian classics, short and strong. The Spritz never tasted so good.

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Trailer Happiness
  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Portobello Road
  • price 2 of 4

What's the vibe? Casual, sunny and funny – and always vibey at weekends.

When to visit Weekdays are chill-days, but this is Notting Hill and a party is never far away.

What’s on the menu? Cheeky tiki drinks with a massive measure of fun.

Coupette
  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Bethnal Green
  • price 2 of 4

What’s the vibe? Edgy Bethnal Green setting with chic French influence and a gold-coin-covered bar.

When to visit Monday and Wednesday nights, when live piano music is paired with your cocktails.

What’s on the menu? The Champagne Piña Colada is the stuff of local legend. But drinks made with calvados (French apple brandy) are worth seeking out, too.

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Piccadilly
  • price 3 of 4

What's the vibe? Oskar Kinberg’s dark drinking den beneath the latest restaurant from star chef Ollie Dabbous.

When to visit Head here when your tastebuds need awakening.

What’s on the menu? Cocktails with weird and wonderful spirits at their core. The Next of Kin is a sweet blossom and berry twist on a negroni.

Cocktail Trading Company
  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Shoreditch
  • price 2 of 4

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.

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • King’s Cross
  • price 2 of 4

What’s the vibe? A veritable disco lounge with a stonking sound system courtesy of the musos behind Spiritland.

When to visit When you feel like getting into the groove as well as the booze, head on down on Wednesday to Saturday, 5.30pm to 7pm, for the capital’s most fun happy hour.

What’s on the menu? The cocktails here are either vermouth-heavy or a revamped take on one of the classics.

  • Bars and pubs
  • St James’s
  • price 3 of 4

What's the vibe? Ultimate self-indulgent luxury in three tiny, cosseting rooms.

When to visit A great place for a hot but quiet date.

What’s on the menu? All the classics, but it has to be a martini. Just the one.

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Hoxton
  • price 2 of 4

What's the vibe? Big chill: laughing locals quaffing classy cocktails
.

When to visit On an East End night out that needs something a bit classy.

What’s on the menu? No-messing-about twisted classics, all done perfectly.

Beaufort Bar at The Savoy
  • Bars and pubs
  • Hotel bars
  • Strand
  • price 4 of 4

What's the vibe? Eye-opening dusky glamour any time of the day.

When to visit To remind yourself that such places exist in your city. Make the most of them!

What’s on the menu?
 Champagne cocktails. Loads of them. What more of an excuse do you need?

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Blind Pig
  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Soho
  • price 2 of 4

What’s the vibe? Prohibition chic with a tasteful infusion of twenty-first-century cool.

When to visit When you’ve got someone special to impress.

What’s on the menu? Bold drinks with a cheeky, anything-goes approach to ingredients.

Waeska
  • Bars and pubs
  • Hotel bars
  • Fitzrovia
  • price 3 of 4

What’s the vibe? Exotic-looking hotel bar filled with taxidermy/art as you’ve never seen before.

When to visit Make Waeska your show-off base – it’s ideal for meetings or rendezvous of the less formal kind.

What’s on the menu? Cocktails that looks as mad as the art, but taste impressively polished. Make mine a lobster bloody mary.

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The Mulwray
  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Chinatown
  • price 2 of 4

What’s the vibe? A sweet and stylish cocktail boudoir owned by the team behind top restaurants The Palomar and The Barbary.

When to visit For cosseted drinking in among chic details and French-accented staff.

What’s on the menu? Achingly on trend tipples, from mezcal- and bourbon-based cocktails to rum and vermouth numbers.

  • Bars and pubs
  • Hotel bars
  • Strand

CURRENTLY CLOSED

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. Later in the day 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.

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Hacha
  • Bars and pubs
  • Mezcalerias
  • Dalston
  • price 2 of 4

What’s the vibe? East London ‘agaveria’ Hacha channels a bit of authentic Mexico via its knowledgable owner, tequila ambassador Deano Moncrieffe.

When to visit When you want a laid-back education on mezcal and its saucy siblings.

What’s on the menu? The bar’s hot line-up of agave-based spirits is weaved into magical cocktails, including the dazzling Mirror Margarita – a see-through take on the classic.

  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • West Hampstead
  • price 2 of 4

What’s the vibe? A bar of two halves in West Hampstead: upstairs is a shiny spot serving low-abv bevvies, while the basement is a darkened whisky den.

When to visit This bar works for any mood, whether you’re playing the part of designated driver or party animal.

What’s on the menu? The Everlong is an effervescent alcohol-free joy, while the Diamond in the Rough contains three different whiskies.

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Oriole
  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Smithfield
  • price 3 of 4

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.

The Zetter Townhouse Clerkenwell Cocktail Lounge
  • Bars and pubs
  • Clerkenwell
  • price 1 of 4

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.

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Homeboy
  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Islington
  • price 2 of 4

What’s the vibe? Irish-run Homeboy is a packed and party-ready bar that serves sharp cocktails alongside pints of Guinness.

When to visit Bring your group of six – there’s plenty of room for a session on the craic.   

What’s on the menu? Irish whiskey-based drinks, from an Irish Coffee to a Wogan.

Discount Suit Company
  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Spitalfields
  • price 2 of 4

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.

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K Bar
  • Bars and pubs
  • Hotel bars
  • South Kensington
  • price 3 of 4

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.

Callooh Callay
  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Shoreditch
  • price 2 of 4

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 (or as big as it can get right now!) in the 'Ditch.

What’s on the menu? Flavours from all around the world. 

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Nine Lives
  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • London Bridge
  • price 2 of 4

What’s the vibe? London Bridge’s very own tropical basement hideaway.

When to visit After dark when the disco-lounge soundtrack truly hits the spot.

What’s on the menu? Cocktails with a conscience – this bar operates a zero waste policy – and with a kick.

  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Hoxton
  • price 2 of 4

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.

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Peckham
  • price 2 of 4

What’s the vibe? A neighbourhood bar in Peckham with as much emphasis on big tunes as there is on big drinks.

When to visit Warm up for the weekend with a Thursday night trip. There’s no way of leaving without at least a light buzz from all that funk. 

What’s on the menu? Cocktails help you get funked up, too – from a Fela Kuti-inspired sour to a Holy Negroni.

  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Dalston
  • price 2 of 4

CURRENTLY CLOSED

What's the vibe? Artfully disheveled basement bar filled with artfully disheveled east Londoners.

When to visit When you want to add a shot of glamour to your night out in Dalston.

What's on the menu? Creative cocktails served in style, garnished with one eye on Instagram.

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Laki Kane
  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Islington
  • price 2 of 4

What’s the vibe? A tiki paradise on Upper Street.

When to visit When you can no longer handle London’s grey skies.

What’s on the menu? Rum – and lots of it. Order in a punchy cocktail by using a buzzer at your table (told you it was paradise!).

The Gibson
  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Old Street
  • price 3 of 4

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.

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Bloomsbury Club Bar
  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Bloomsbury
  • price 3 of 4

CLOSED UNTIL SEPTEMBER 2021

What’s the vibe? Unstuffy hotel bar with an English-gents-club-meets-library look, the cabinets filled with booze rather than books.

When to visit Early evening when a jazz duo twangs away by the door – pull up a stool at the bar for drinks with a view.

What’s on the menu? Sip on a Virginia Woolf. The bar names its cocktails after literary greats from the Bloomsbury Set.

  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Soho
  • price 2 of 4

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.

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • King’s Cross
  • price 2 of 4

What’s the vibe? The London outpost for the Standard Hotel has a very cool bar despite its incredibly retro, TfL-inspired look.

When to visit The post-work King’s Cross crowd files in, but you should also time a trip to coincide with one of the lobby’s brilliant events – including live jazz and slamming DJ sets.

What’s on the menu? NY-inspired cocktails, from a Pickle Martini to a chocolate orange twist on the Espresso Martini.

Mr Fogg's
  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Mayfair
  • price 3 of 4

What’s the vibe? Victorian explorer’s curiosity-filled abode, with spiffing cocktails.

When to visit For a feast for the eyes as well as the taste buds.

What’s on the menu? The sense of frivolity extends to the cocktail menu, but all drinks are made with real skill.

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TT Liquor
  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Shoreditch

CURRENTLY CLOSED

What’s the vibe? Spend a night in the cells you’ll want to remember at this former police station turned cocktail bar and bottle shop.

When to visit Movie nights pair booze with blockbusters: sip white russians with The Dude.

What’s on the menu? Gin-leaning spins on the cocktail classics, from modern Gimlets to funky margaritas.

Permit Room
  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • King’s Cross
  • price 2 of 4

What’s the vibe? Drinking palace below Dishoom with just a touch of the speakeasy about it.

When to visit Off-peak times when you can sneak in for a gin.

What’s on the menu? Gin-based drinks with a warm and spicy twist.

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Rockwell
  • Bars and pubs
  • Hotel bars
  • Trafalgar Square
  • price 3 of 4

What’s the vibe? A hotel bar and foliage-filled paradise just off the exhaust-choked corner of Trafalgar Square.

When to visit When your house plant collection is feeling a little lacklustre.

What’s on the menu? Tropical elixirs that suit the near-jungle-like surrounds. The Tangerine Capybara is a towering, fruity punch fit for any party.

Ridley Road Market Bar
  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Dalston
  • price 2 of 4

What’s the vibe? A down-to earth tiki dive bar in a converted store halfway down a traditional London marketplace.

When to visit When you want to drink cheap cocktails while soaking up kitsch beach bar vibes.

What’s on the menu? The £6 Ginger Mojito may not be the most sophisticated drink in the city, but we love it because it tastes great and comes without a drop of pretension.

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What’s the vibe? Quite a weird one tbh. An eyeball-searing, multi-coloured diner.

When to visit Well it’s open from early morning to late night so literally whenever you damn well please. Why not start your day with a nice None of Your Nonsense Negroni?

What’s on the menu? Quite a few interesting cocktails, including the Apple Slice Sour, featuring Wild Turkey 101 bourbon, lemon juice, Monin apple pie syrup and egg whites.

What’s the vibe? Named after a bird that flies around the world as the seasons change, Sabine is a swanky, leafy roof bar that has some nice views of the city.

When to visit If you want the place to yourself, you could try weekends, when most of the City workers will be away.

What’s on the menu? The Midsummer Margarita is a heady mix of Volcan De Mi Terra tequila, raspberries, Cointreau liqueur and lime juice. This thing hits different.

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