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The 50 best cocktail bars in London

We've ranked the mixmasters making the finest cocktail concoctions in town, so scroll on discover London's best cocktail bars.

© Victor Frankowski

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

50

Below the Smoke

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.

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Shoreditch
49

London Cocktail Club

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.

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Covent Garden
48

Artesian

Venue says: “Now taking bookings for lunch with a choice of new dishes from soups, salads and sandwiches to burgers 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.

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Marylebone
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47

Mr Fogg's

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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Mayfair
46

Ladies & Gentlemen

What's the vibe? A tiny bar in a former public convenience.

When to visit When you just need a great cocktail and you can't hold it in any more!

What's on the menu? Straightforward cocktails plus a menu of boilermakers – shot of whiskey, bottle of beer.

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Kentish Town
45

Shochu Lounge

What's the vibe? A dark and sleek den of Japanese drinking culture.

When to visit Early for a quiet drink, 9pm onwards for the buzz.

What’s on the menu? Shochu finds its way into most of the cocktails, and they’re great.

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Fitzrovia
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44

The Owl

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.

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Balham
43

Little Bar

What's the vibe? Tiny, goldfish-bowl bar full of young, friendly Tootingites.

When to visit When you want a slice of Shoreditch without rattling up the Northern Line.

What’s on the menu? Quality bottled beers and cocktails – mostly classic, plus half a dozen in-house creations.

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Tooting
42

Callooh Callay

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’.

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Shoreditch
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41

Rum Kitchen

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.

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Westbourne

London's best cocktail bars: 40-31

40

Ruby's

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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Shacklewell
39

The Permit Room

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.

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King's Cross
38

High Water

What’s the vibe? Fashionable drinkers select this haunt to kickstart a sordid night out in Dalston.

When to visit Any night of the week can feel like the weekend here.

What’s on the menu? Peerless classics, original inventions without too much showing off.

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Dalston
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37

K Bar

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.

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South Kensington
36

NOLA London

What's the vibe? The Deep South by way of the East End.

When to visit A night out where you can pretend you're 4,000 miles away in Louisiana.

What's on the menu? Refined cocktails that are authentically bracing and short.

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Shoreditch
35

Discount Suit Company

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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Spitalfields
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34

Nightjar

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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Hoxton
33

Worship Street Whistling Shop

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.

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Shoreditch
32

Experimental Cocktail Club

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.

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Chinatown
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31

Mark's Bar

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.

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Soho

London's best cocktail bars: 30-21

30

Little Bat Bar

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.

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Barnsbury
29

Milk & Honey

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.

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Soho
28

Happiness Forgets

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.

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Shoreditch
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27

Bar Américain at Brasserie Zédel

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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Soho
26

Oriole

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.

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Farringdon
25

Portobello Star

What's the vibe? Cool customers crowding in for cocktails and conversation
.

When to visit: To get a deeper connection to the spirit that almost caused London’s ruin – gin.

What’s on the menu? Anything made with Portobello, the house gin

, is worth a second look.

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Westbourne
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24

Beaufort Bar at The Savoy

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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Charing Cross
23

Trailer Happiness

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.

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Westbourne
22

Peg & Patriot

What's the vibe? Hip cocktail bar with a tongue-in-cheek creative streak.

When to visit? When you want a cocktail with a twist that isn’t just lemon peel.

What’s on the menu? The puntastic cocktails at Peg & Patriot are as creative as their names suggest.

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Bethnal Green
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21

Joyeux Bordel

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.

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Shoreditch

London's best cocktail bars: 20-11

20

The Gibson

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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Old Street
19

Bar Termini

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.

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Soho
18

Oskar's Bar

What’s the vibe? Darkling Gotham City chic.

When to visit Midweek, when it’s more glamorous than clamorous.

What's on the menu? Imaginative cocktails including beer and cider-based drinks.

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Fitzrovia
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17

Behind This Wall

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.

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Hackney
16

American Bar at The Savoy

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.

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Charing Cross
15

The Zetter Townhouse Clerkenwell

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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Clerkenwell
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14

Frank's Cafe

What’s the vibe? Art students and vista-loving sunseekers get merry on a rooftop.

When to visit Summer, obvs, and sunsets are particularly appealing.

What’s on the menu? A solid selection of Campari- and bitter-based shorts.

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Peckham
13

First Aid Box

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?

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Herne Hill
12

Dukes Hotel

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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St James'
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11

Blind Pig

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.

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Soho

London's best cocktail bars: the top ten

10

Hawksmoor Spitalfields Bar

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.

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Spitalfields
9

7 Tales

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.

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London
8

69 Colebrooke Row

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 likes of the Terroir: ‘distilled clay, flint and lichen’.

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Islington
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7

Cocktail Trading Company

Venue says: “Visit us and taste our brand spanking new cocktail menu! The pages hold all sorts of adventure, excitement and boozy-delicious treats.”

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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Bethnal Green
6

Dandelyan

Venue says: “This July Fourth we are collaborating with an American bar to bring you a one-off menu running from July 3 - 5. Book now!”

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.

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South Bank
5

Satan's Whiskers

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.

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Bethnal Green
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4

Original Sin


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.

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Stoke Newington
3

White 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.

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Hoxton
2

The Connaught Bar

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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Mayfair
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1

Punch Room at the London Edition

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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Fitzrovia

Discover London's best signature drinks

The ten best signature drinks in London

Cocktail menus can be overwhelming, with all the puntastic tipple titles and fancy foams, vapours and distillations. If you really need to know what to drink in London, here's a good place to start. 

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By: Euan Ferguson

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