London’s very best cocktail bars: ranked
What’s the vibe? A razzle-dazzle cabaret bar in an Exmouth Market basement.
When to visit Friday and Saturday night burlesque and acrobatic shows are a great accompaniment to cocktails.
What’s on the menu? Long-lost drink recipes are brought bang up to date. Try the Bread and Salt and prepare to have your mind as twisted as those acrobats’ bodies.
What’s the vibe? Post-colonial 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.
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.
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.
Venue says This summer our outside bar will be transformed into a Palm Terrace in partnership with Diplomático rum. Very exciting! Join us from June 22
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? Flavours from all around the world.
What's the vibe? A hidden speakeasy with as much substance as style.
When to visit One of those special occasions when splurging on cocktails is just what you want to do.
What’s on the menu? Stunningly balanced cocktails, many with vintage spirits.
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, Blinder.
What’s on the menu? Doctor’s orders: get yourself a Brockwell Park Bramble, which comes with a syringe of Chambord. Feeling better?
What’s the vibe? World class cocktails below a steak restaurant in Fulham.
When to visit Skip dessert at Hanger SW6 and hit up Below the Cut for afters instead.
What’s on the menu? Bacon-infused bourbon in the Hanger Old Fashioned. Have the Lemon Cheesecake for afters (in cocktail form, of course).
What’s the vibe? Upscale bar within Corrigan’s restaurant filled with wild safari prints.
When to visit When you find yourself thirsty in Mayfair and don’t fancy the typical hotel lobby.
What’s on the menu? Knockout originals with ingredients sourced from Richard Corrigan’s Irish farm.
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.
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? 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.
What's the vibe? Dark and moody, good for groups but great for couples.
When to visit An early weekday evening is pleasantly unhurried.
What’s on the menu? Even when the drinks sound a little wacky, they have a tendency to taste great.
What’s the vibe? Hong Kong-styled Soho speakeasy saturated in green neon light.
When to visit Late at night – the bar stays open until 3am at weekends.
What’s on the menu? Drinks made from baijiu, China’s national drink that’s often referred to as ‘Chinese vodka’ and is great for washing down dumplings.
What's the vibe? Low-key when quiet, boisterous when busy.
When to visit Early evening is when you’re most likely to bag a table.
What’s on the menu? Beautifully made concoctions inspired by British stories.
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 tiny space where people come in search of cocktail heaven.
When to visit For cocktails that don’t need to show off about how good they are.
What’s on the menu? The Prairie Oyster (pictured) is the stuff of legend. Neck it down in one.
What’s the vibe? N8 neighbourhood hangout with a minimal, cosy tone.
When to visit Visit on weeknight evenings when things can get loud and steamy.
What’s on the menu? Classics and pretty originals championing sweet, floral flavours.
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? 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.
What's the vibe? Discreet, dark, delightful.
When to visit Whenever you can book: it’s easier early in the week. Or become a member.
What’s on the menu? Simple-sounding cocktails with decades of collective bartending experience behind them.
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? Tokyo street signage, photogenic neon and brash hip hop make for one vibrant setting where Londoners will feel well at home.
When to visit Come for a pre-dinner drink, or 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.
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.
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? 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.
Venue says Afternoon tea has landed in Clerkenwell! Try Aunt Wilhelmina’s dainty 'Traditional Tea' or Uncle Seymour’s heartier ‘Gentleman’s Tea’.
What's the vibe? Big chill: laughing locals quaffing classy cocktails .
When to visit On a late East End night out that needs something a bit classy.
What’s on the menu? No-messing-about twisted classics, all done perfectly.
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.
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?
What's the vibe? Casual, sunny and funny – and rammed 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.
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.
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? Stark and stylish Dalston bar bathed in concrete and taking its cue from Andy Warhol’s Silver Factory. Sounds douchey, totally works.
When to visit When you want to impress your pals with a scene as singular as the drinks.
What’s on the menu? Stand-out cocktails served in vagina-shaped vessels or with penis-shaped decorations. It’s okay – it’s art.
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.
What’s the vibe? Minimal, Scandi-chic, pine-clad setting filled with terrariums, and with hip hop blasting on the airwaves.
When to visit When you fancy waking up guilt-free – Scout’s sustainable ethos will have you feeling good all over.
What’s on the menu? Beetroot, carrot, hay, sea buckthorn, asaparagus… all ingredients are sourced from the British Isles and made into odd concoctions.
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.
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? Stokey cool, and a free game of pool .
When to visit Before climbing the stairs to Burger Bear.
What’s on the menu? The cocktails, served by impeccably pleasant staff, are strong, well-balanced and classy.
What’s the vibe? Edgy Bethnal Green setting with chic French influence and a gold-coin-covered bar.
When to visit Boozy brunch time visits are pretty iconic for croque monsieurs paired with 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.
What’s the vibe? Diminutive Dalston bar and café run by two brothers 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.
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.
What’s the vibe? Irish bar below restaurant Nuala with nightly live music and unlimited craic.
When to visit Make it a late-night trip so you can max out on whiskey drinks.
What’s on the menu? If not on the Guinness, Nuala Bar is all about heavenly whiskey-based concoctions and strong serves of old-school punch.
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.
What’s the vibe? London favourite White Lyan is reborn as a dark, laidback bar in the basement (upstairs is a restaurant now, don’t ya know).
When to visit For some of the best drinks in town in one of the most relaxed settings.
What’s on the menu? Classic cocktails given a Mr Lyan twist – the Dog’s Nose Clover Club with Chambord, Guinness and sherbert is a Super Lyan superstar.
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.
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.
What’s the vibe? The second bar from team Three Sheets, a cool little Spitalfields basement.
When to visit Drinks are defined by strength; stop by for a light aperitif, a knockout nightcap or anything in between.
What’s on the menu? Flawless flavours found through all manner of sciency prep, served in simple, stylish glassware. Make a beeline for the Whisky + Milk.
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? 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.