Get us in your inbox

Search

The most-loved bars and pubs in London

From much-loved locals to cracking cocktail bars, check out Londoners’ favourite places to drink in the capital

Advertising

Whether it’s a cosy local, cool cocktail bar or a secret speakeasy, London’s awash with delightful drinking spots.

Below you’ll find London’s most-loved bars and pubs during the last week, the last month and since the beginning of time. Don't see your favourite? Click the Love It button and it could make it into London’s most-loved.

Lyaness
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • South Bank
  • price 3 of 4
Most people embrace the mantra ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ Not Mr Lyan. London’s leading mixologist has built up bars only to tear them down at their height, like some boozy oligarch. Okay, he’s not that: Ryan Chetiyawardana is a scientist with a snappy dress sense and a fresh approach to cocktails, who was shaping the conversation around sustainability long before the debate about the the straw in your drink. Going the way of the game-changing White Lyan and Super Lyan before it, South Bank hotel bar Dandelyan – declared the ‘World’s Best Bar’ just six months ago – is his latest victim. He’s flipped the glossy space in ten days, and Lyaness now takes its place. Clearly, reinvention is part of the scientific approach, but what does it mean for a diehard Dandelyan fan? Superficially, not a lot. Lyaness is in the same spot, run by the same team with the same aim – crafting awesome drinks that make you think. The powder-blue makeover adds freshness, but the layout mostly remains the same. The real overhaul is saved for the menu – seven newly created ingredients feature, with three different drinks made from each. Components like ‘Infinite Banana’ and ‘King Monkey Nut’ are a level up from the leather, concrete and cardboard that Mr Lyan’s used in cocktails before. Page-long blurbs accompany each souped-up ingredient and when I asked a staff member about the ‘Ultra Raspberry’ in my Snap Crackle Bellini, I got a speech about ‘parmigiano water’ that I really didn’t understand
Advertising
Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town
  • Bars and pubs
  • Spitalfields
Part of the trend for ‘secret’ speakeasies, this one is a basement bar beneath the Spitalfields branch of the Breakfast Club. The entrance is the one that looks like a big Smeg fridge door. Go inside and you’ll find a quirky, dimly lit cocktail bar clad in exposed brick and wood: it’s all a bit like a cabin from 'Twin Peaks'. The drinks menu makes an amusing mockery of more self-conscious ‘underground’ venues. The cocktails– classics and house specials – are well crafted on the whole.
The Italian Job
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Bars and pubs
  • Chiswick
  • price 3 of 4
Birra artigianale means ‘craft beer’ in Italian.Twenty years ago there were zero birrifici making the stuff; today Italy has more than 400. These brews now have a showcase in Chiswick, the first of its type. We drank two brews from the evolving list of 12: the unfiltered Viæmilia pilsner from Birrificio del Ducato, and an IPA from Birrificio Toccalmatto called Re Hop. Both were memorable, but the lager left the more lasting impression with its startlingly intense citrus flavours.  Some brews rise to alarming levels of potency, which makes the policy of selling in halves or two-thirds of a pint look sensible. Italians rarely drink without having something to eat, and that practice prevails here – most customers order croquettes or charcuterie plates. In good weather, crowds spill out around the pavement tables.  The Italian Job is worth travelling to, though I’d leave my Mini Cooper at home. And if I went by coach, I’d make sure the driver laid off the Verdi Imperial Stout at 8.2 percent abv. Who wants a quiet pint to end on a cliffhanger?
Advertising
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Fulham
  • price 2 of 4
Below the Cut is now closed. Time Out Editors, 2018. Every now and then in this city you get to see someone great before they become famous – maybe a comedian or a band in the back room of a pub. Or, in this case, a mixologist in a quiet speakeasy under a restaurant in SW6. But Fulham, not exactly the first place you think of for cocktail bars, might not be big enough for the wonderful world of Charles Gaboreau. For now, in a small, eclectically furnished room under the Hanger steak restaurant, you’ll get the Frenchman’s undivided attention as he suggests tipples according to preference. Guinness and tequila? Oh for heaven’s sake! But it works, I tell you. In even quieter times he’ll sit with you and tell you of his love for old cocktail books from the ’20s and how he had always dreamed of creating a thriving ‘secret’ bar. Which is exactly what he’s done here: Below the Cut is Gaboreau’s baby. There are plans for some real off-the-wall drinks, should his budget be extended – as if setting light to your Mai Tai isn’t enough – but for now just marvel at and indulge in what’s on offer. The Hanger Old Fashioned is a fine example of this bartender’s skill; bacon-infused bourbon with a couple of drops of maple syrup among the usual ingredients, topped with house-made pork scratchings. You know the joy a Hawksmoor Full Fat Old Fashioned brings? Now triple it. His love of the American prohibition era extended into a recommendation for The Last Word – a sharp lime number that washed a
Advertising
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Bars and pubs
  • Craft beer pubs
  • Stockwell
  • price 2 of 4
A sedate distance from the jumble of loud music and fried chicken around Brixton station, the Cranchor’s bright sign glows enticingly. This smart pub’s long-but-narrow layout means that when it’s busy it feels very full indeed, but claim yourself a table (inside or on one of the picnic tables outside) and you’ll soon feel a part of the crowd. Visiting at off-peak times will allow you to spend time googling the niche breweries which feature among the many brews on tap and in bottle (or asking the helpful staff) – this is one of the best beer and ale pubs in London, which makes its incongruous location on an otherwise unloved section of Brixton Road even more incredible. A super place.
Swift
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Soho
  • price 2 of 4
From the couple who brought us cult faves Nightjar and Oriole comes Swift, swooping into the former site of the celebrated, groundbreaking Lab Bar. Frankly, if they’d named it Tit I’d have still been excited, since here they’ve also teamed up with folks who’ve worked across Milk & Honey and Callooh Callay, to overwhelming success. Swift is split in two: a buzzy, casual-yet-sparkling bar on the ground level and a dark lounge below. Upstairs, the look is faintly Italian, mirrored in a menu of affordable aperitivos. This includes an unmissable sgroppino – a thick and frothy prosecco-based drink with lemony sorbet floating on top. For snacks, nearby drinkers ordered oysters, but I was happily ensconsed in a Guinness welsh rarebit, heavy with pungent cheese and onion. Pongy titbits notwithstanding, Swift makes a great date spot. If it’s going well, take it downstairs. The basement is lit for romantic trysts, the showy side of Oriole and Nightjar eschewed in favour of pared-back sophistication. Staff are attentive, guiding you through an original menu edging towards nightcaps. I tried a powerful Amber Cane, a reinvented manhattan using rum in place of whisky. So taking over the spot where London’s cocktail-making reputation was cemented doesn’t seem too bold. Doing it in such a stripped-back way was the ballsy move, but, boy has it paid off. Time for a Swift one.
Advertising
Bar Termini
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Soho
  • price 2 of 4
When someone calls two people a ‘dream team’, my hype-detector lights up. But with Bar Termini, the DT moniker seems fitting. Bar Termini does two things: coffee and cocktails. Coffee is overseen by Marco Arrigo, head of quality for Illy, who has probably trained more baristas – and trained them rigorously – than anyone else in the UK. Cocktails are supervised by Tony Conigliaro, the alco-alchemist behind 69 Colebrooke Row and Zetter Town House, among others. Teams don’t get much dreamier than this. So, have they found a supersized venue to match the giant reputation? Ha ha ha. There’s room for 25, and seated service only, though you may stand if you order a single ‘espresso al bar’ (£1) for Italian-style drinking-and-running. The coffee list has just four brews, all of them classics but with a twist. The alcohol list has three negronis, four ‘aperitivi’, three wines, one bottled beer. There is also a small food offering: baked goods from L’Anima in Shoreditch by day, charcuterie and cheese in the evening. I went for coffee at lunchtime. The ‘espresso al tavola’ (they’ll explain what it means) was unusual but flawless. On my second visit later the same day, I had a marsala martini: Beefeater gin, sweet marsala, dry vermouth, almond bitters served straight-up. A model of simplicity and balance, this is one of the best cocktails in London. Prices for hot drinks are higher than the norm (£4, apart from single espresso), but that’s a for triple espresso shot. Cocktails, by contra
Fitz’s Bar
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Bloomsbury
  • price 3 of 4
If Rick James and Jay Gatsby got together to throw a bash, I reckon it would look like Fitz’s Bar. Jazz Age plumage fluffs up from behind chairs while a giant glitter ball hangs from above; the back bar’s arches hint at art deco elegance while bright modern art punctuates the walls; and music drifts from up-tempo funk to mellow jazz. Fitz’s sits inside the Kimpton Fitzroy London, just on the corner of Russell Square. This hotel comes from a UK group with prestige, and you sense it from the marble-heavy lobby leading into this disco decadence. Staff in floral print were accommodating from the get-go, showing off their new home as we entered and offering suggestions on where to take our night when we came to settle up. They promptly poured water and served Twiglets on the side, a fittingly retro touch. Snacks from the menu are well worth your attention, too – from oozing bone-marrow croquettes dressed with capers to salty hasselback potatoes topped with sour cream and caviar. Gatsby would approve. The cocktail menu is filled with illustrations and word clouds to help you figure out flavours. A fizz-heavy Spy Princess (£17) was served in a coupe with a splay of pretty petals on its frothy top. Veer from champagne cocktails and you get a more affordable hotel bar experience – £14 will get you a quirky and sublime cucumber-flavoured daiquiri or a Vesca Negroni, the classic drink lifted with coconut and rosehip. The team hails from London bars Milk & Honey and Callooh Callay – and
Lyaness
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • South Bank
  • price 3 of 4
Most people embrace the mantra ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ Not Mr Lyan. London’s leading mixologist has built up bars only to tear them down at their height, like some boozy oligarch. Okay, he’s not that: Ryan Chetiyawardana is a scientist with a snappy dress sense and a fresh approach to cocktails, who was shaping the conversation around sustainability long before the debate about the the straw in your drink. Going the way of the game-changing White Lyan and Super Lyan before it, South Bank hotel bar Dandelyan – declared the ‘World’s Best Bar’ just six months ago – is his latest victim. He’s flipped the glossy space in ten days, and Lyaness now takes its place. Clearly, reinvention is part of the scientific approach, but what does it mean for a diehard Dandelyan fan? Superficially, not a lot. Lyaness is in the same spot, run by the same team with the same aim – crafting awesome drinks that make you think. The powder-blue makeover adds freshness, but the layout mostly remains the same. The real overhaul is saved for the menu – seven newly created ingredients feature, with three different drinks made from each. Components like ‘Infinite Banana’ and ‘King Monkey Nut’ are a level up from the leather, concrete and cardboard that Mr Lyan’s used in cocktails before. Page-long blurbs accompany each souped-up ingredient and when I asked a staff member about the ‘Ultra Raspberry’ in my Snap Crackle Bellini, I got a speech about ‘parmigiano water’ that I really didn’t understand
Advertising
The Italian Job
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Bars and pubs
  • Chiswick
  • price 3 of 4
Birra artigianale means ‘craft beer’ in Italian.Twenty years ago there were zero birrifici making the stuff; today Italy has more than 400. These brews now have a showcase in Chiswick, the first of its type. We drank two brews from the evolving list of 12: the unfiltered Viæmilia pilsner from Birrificio del Ducato, and an IPA from Birrificio Toccalmatto called Re Hop. Both were memorable, but the lager left the more lasting impression with its startlingly intense citrus flavours.  Some brews rise to alarming levels of potency, which makes the policy of selling in halves or two-thirds of a pint look sensible. Italians rarely drink without having something to eat, and that practice prevails here – most customers order croquettes or charcuterie plates. In good weather, crowds spill out around the pavement tables.  The Italian Job is worth travelling to, though I’d leave my Mini Cooper at home. And if I went by coach, I’d make sure the driver laid off the Verdi Imperial Stout at 8.2 percent abv. Who wants a quiet pint to end on a cliffhanger?
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Fulham
  • price 2 of 4
Below the Cut is now closed. Time Out Editors, 2018. Every now and then in this city you get to see someone great before they become famous – maybe a comedian or a band in the back room of a pub. Or, in this case, a mixologist in a quiet speakeasy under a restaurant in SW6. But Fulham, not exactly the first place you think of for cocktail bars, might not be big enough for the wonderful world of Charles Gaboreau. For now, in a small, eclectically furnished room under the Hanger steak restaurant, you’ll get the Frenchman’s undivided attention as he suggests tipples according to preference. Guinness and tequila? Oh for heaven’s sake! But it works, I tell you. In even quieter times he’ll sit with you and tell you of his love for old cocktail books from the ’20s and how he had always dreamed of creating a thriving ‘secret’ bar. Which is exactly what he’s done here: Below the Cut is Gaboreau’s baby. There are plans for some real off-the-wall drinks, should his budget be extended – as if setting light to your Mai Tai isn’t enough – but for now just marvel at and indulge in what’s on offer. The Hanger Old Fashioned is a fine example of this bartender’s skill; bacon-infused bourbon with a couple of drops of maple syrup among the usual ingredients, topped with house-made pork scratchings. You know the joy a Hawksmoor Full Fat Old Fashioned brings? Now triple it. His love of the American prohibition era extended into a recommendation for The Last Word – a sharp lime number that washed a
Advertising
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Bars and pubs
  • Craft beer pubs
  • Stockwell
  • price 2 of 4
A sedate distance from the jumble of loud music and fried chicken around Brixton station, the Cranchor’s bright sign glows enticingly. This smart pub’s long-but-narrow layout means that when it’s busy it feels very full indeed, but claim yourself a table (inside or on one of the picnic tables outside) and you’ll soon feel a part of the crowd. Visiting at off-peak times will allow you to spend time googling the niche breweries which feature among the many brews on tap and in bottle (or asking the helpful staff) – this is one of the best beer and ale pubs in London, which makes its incongruous location on an otherwise unloved section of Brixton Road even more incredible. A super place.
Bar Termini
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Soho
  • price 2 of 4
When someone calls two people a ‘dream team’, my hype-detector lights up. But with Bar Termini, the DT moniker seems fitting. Bar Termini does two things: coffee and cocktails. Coffee is overseen by Marco Arrigo, head of quality for Illy, who has probably trained more baristas – and trained them rigorously – than anyone else in the UK. Cocktails are supervised by Tony Conigliaro, the alco-alchemist behind 69 Colebrooke Row and Zetter Town House, among others. Teams don’t get much dreamier than this. So, have they found a supersized venue to match the giant reputation? Ha ha ha. There’s room for 25, and seated service only, though you may stand if you order a single ‘espresso al bar’ (£1) for Italian-style drinking-and-running. The coffee list has just four brews, all of them classics but with a twist. The alcohol list has three negronis, four ‘aperitivi’, three wines, one bottled beer. There is also a small food offering: baked goods from L’Anima in Shoreditch by day, charcuterie and cheese in the evening. I went for coffee at lunchtime. The ‘espresso al tavola’ (they’ll explain what it means) was unusual but flawless. On my second visit later the same day, I had a marsala martini: Beefeater gin, sweet marsala, dry vermouth, almond bitters served straight-up. A model of simplicity and balance, this is one of the best cocktails in London. Prices for hot drinks are higher than the norm (£4, apart from single espresso), but that’s a for triple espresso shot. Cocktails, by contra
Advertising
Swift
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Soho
  • price 2 of 4
From the couple who brought us cult faves Nightjar and Oriole comes Swift, swooping into the former site of the celebrated, groundbreaking Lab Bar. Frankly, if they’d named it Tit I’d have still been excited, since here they’ve also teamed up with folks who’ve worked across Milk & Honey and Callooh Callay, to overwhelming success. Swift is split in two: a buzzy, casual-yet-sparkling bar on the ground level and a dark lounge below. Upstairs, the look is faintly Italian, mirrored in a menu of affordable aperitivos. This includes an unmissable sgroppino – a thick and frothy prosecco-based drink with lemony sorbet floating on top. For snacks, nearby drinkers ordered oysters, but I was happily ensconsed in a Guinness welsh rarebit, heavy with pungent cheese and onion. Pongy titbits notwithstanding, Swift makes a great date spot. If it’s going well, take it downstairs. The basement is lit for romantic trysts, the showy side of Oriole and Nightjar eschewed in favour of pared-back sophistication. Staff are attentive, guiding you through an original menu edging towards nightcaps. I tried a powerful Amber Cane, a reinvented manhattan using rum in place of whisky. So taking over the spot where London’s cocktail-making reputation was cemented doesn’t seem too bold. Doing it in such a stripped-back way was the ballsy move, but, boy has it paid off. Time for a Swift one.
Fitz’s Bar
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Bloomsbury
  • price 3 of 4
If Rick James and Jay Gatsby got together to throw a bash, I reckon it would look like Fitz’s Bar. Jazz Age plumage fluffs up from behind chairs while a giant glitter ball hangs from above; the back bar’s arches hint at art deco elegance while bright modern art punctuates the walls; and music drifts from up-tempo funk to mellow jazz. Fitz’s sits inside the Kimpton Fitzroy London, just on the corner of Russell Square. This hotel comes from a UK group with prestige, and you sense it from the marble-heavy lobby leading into this disco decadence. Staff in floral print were accommodating from the get-go, showing off their new home as we entered and offering suggestions on where to take our night when we came to settle up. They promptly poured water and served Twiglets on the side, a fittingly retro touch. Snacks from the menu are well worth your attention, too – from oozing bone-marrow croquettes dressed with capers to salty hasselback potatoes topped with sour cream and caviar. Gatsby would approve. The cocktail menu is filled with illustrations and word clouds to help you figure out flavours. A fizz-heavy Spy Princess (£17) was served in a coupe with a splay of pretty petals on its frothy top. Veer from champagne cocktails and you get a more affordable hotel bar experience – £14 will get you a quirky and sublime cucumber-flavoured daiquiri or a Vesca Negroni, the classic drink lifted with coconut and rosehip. The team hails from London bars Milk & Honey and Callooh Callay – and
Advertising
First Aid Box
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Herne Hill
  • price 2 of 4
When your neighbourhood café serves cocktails worthy of Zone 1, you know the only way you’ll ever leave London will be in a box. But this Herne Hill newcomer – the second from the team behind Brixton’s Shrub and Shutter –  will even go so far as to help you keep the Grim Reaper at bay. Because, as the name suggests, it specialises in ‘cure-all’ drinks. A great fit for the area’s relaxed, thirtysomething inhabitants, First Aid Box’s white tiled walls, shelves of pseudo-pharmacological gear and menu with a medicinal theme suggest the snap of a latex glove, but it’s a concept lubricated by charming staff, upbeat music and flattering, flickering candlelight. Drinks make ample use of ‘shrubs’: spirits suspended in vinegar-based syrups that make for thrilling flavour bases. Updates of tried-and-tested classics include an aviation-style mix called Conscious Pilot (£8.50). Here, the rhubarb-infused gin lends the drink a subtle tartness that prevents the triple whammy of violette liqueur, violette shrub and violette droplets from delving too deep into granny’s knicker drawer. Elsewhere, the creamy exuberance of a Ramos gin fizz is given added depth with a shot of rich, earthy matcha-and-pistachio shrub. Both are served without gimmicks – though if it’s theatre you’re after, there’s a smoking cocktail served in a bell jar (£8), a cucumber sherbet in a bottle with a miniature cone of sorbet as a stopper (£9) or a vitamin C-laced bramble with a syringe of blood-hued Chambord (£8).But the
Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town
  • Bars and pubs
  • Spitalfields
Part of the trend for ‘secret’ speakeasies, this one is a basement bar beneath the Spitalfields branch of the Breakfast Club. The entrance is the one that looks like a big Smeg fridge door. Go inside and you’ll find a quirky, dimly lit cocktail bar clad in exposed brick and wood: it’s all a bit like a cabin from 'Twin Peaks'. The drinks menu makes an amusing mockery of more self-conscious ‘underground’ venues. The cocktails– classics and house specials – are well crafted on the whole.
Lyaness
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • South Bank
  • price 3 of 4
Most people embrace the mantra ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ Not Mr Lyan. London’s leading mixologist has built up bars only to tear them down at their height, like some boozy oligarch. Okay, he’s not that: Ryan Chetiyawardana is a scientist with a snappy dress sense and a fresh approach to cocktails, who was shaping the conversation around sustainability long before the debate about the the straw in your drink. Going the way of the game-changing White Lyan and Super Lyan before it, South Bank hotel bar Dandelyan – declared the ‘World’s Best Bar’ just six months ago – is his latest victim. He’s flipped the glossy space in ten days, and Lyaness now takes its place. Clearly, reinvention is part of the scientific approach, but what does it mean for a diehard Dandelyan fan? Superficially, not a lot. Lyaness is in the same spot, run by the same team with the same aim – crafting awesome drinks that make you think. The powder-blue makeover adds freshness, but the layout mostly remains the same. The real overhaul is saved for the menu – seven newly created ingredients feature, with three different drinks made from each. Components like ‘Infinite Banana’ and ‘King Monkey Nut’ are a level up from the leather, concrete and cardboard that Mr Lyan’s used in cocktails before. Page-long blurbs accompany each souped-up ingredient and when I asked a staff member about the ‘Ultra Raspberry’ in my Snap Crackle Bellini, I got a speech about ‘parmigiano water’ that I really didn’t understand
Advertising
The Italian Job
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Bars and pubs
  • Chiswick
  • price 3 of 4
Birra artigianale means ‘craft beer’ in Italian.Twenty years ago there were zero birrifici making the stuff; today Italy has more than 400. These brews now have a showcase in Chiswick, the first of its type. We drank two brews from the evolving list of 12: the unfiltered Viæmilia pilsner from Birrificio del Ducato, and an IPA from Birrificio Toccalmatto called Re Hop. Both were memorable, but the lager left the more lasting impression with its startlingly intense citrus flavours.  Some brews rise to alarming levels of potency, which makes the policy of selling in halves or two-thirds of a pint look sensible. Italians rarely drink without having something to eat, and that practice prevails here – most customers order croquettes or charcuterie plates. In good weather, crowds spill out around the pavement tables.  The Italian Job is worth travelling to, though I’d leave my Mini Cooper at home. And if I went by coach, I’d make sure the driver laid off the Verdi Imperial Stout at 8.2 percent abv. Who wants a quiet pint to end on a cliffhanger?
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Fulham
  • price 2 of 4
Below the Cut is now closed. Time Out Editors, 2018. Every now and then in this city you get to see someone great before they become famous – maybe a comedian or a band in the back room of a pub. Or, in this case, a mixologist in a quiet speakeasy under a restaurant in SW6. But Fulham, not exactly the first place you think of for cocktail bars, might not be big enough for the wonderful world of Charles Gaboreau. For now, in a small, eclectically furnished room under the Hanger steak restaurant, you’ll get the Frenchman’s undivided attention as he suggests tipples according to preference. Guinness and tequila? Oh for heaven’s sake! But it works, I tell you. In even quieter times he’ll sit with you and tell you of his love for old cocktail books from the ’20s and how he had always dreamed of creating a thriving ‘secret’ bar. Which is exactly what he’s done here: Below the Cut is Gaboreau’s baby. There are plans for some real off-the-wall drinks, should his budget be extended – as if setting light to your Mai Tai isn’t enough – but for now just marvel at and indulge in what’s on offer. The Hanger Old Fashioned is a fine example of this bartender’s skill; bacon-infused bourbon with a couple of drops of maple syrup among the usual ingredients, topped with house-made pork scratchings. You know the joy a Hawksmoor Full Fat Old Fashioned brings? Now triple it. His love of the American prohibition era extended into a recommendation for The Last Word – a sharp lime number that washed a
Advertising
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Bars and pubs
  • Craft beer pubs
  • Stockwell
  • price 2 of 4
A sedate distance from the jumble of loud music and fried chicken around Brixton station, the Cranchor’s bright sign glows enticingly. This smart pub’s long-but-narrow layout means that when it’s busy it feels very full indeed, but claim yourself a table (inside or on one of the picnic tables outside) and you’ll soon feel a part of the crowd. Visiting at off-peak times will allow you to spend time googling the niche breweries which feature among the many brews on tap and in bottle (or asking the helpful staff) – this is one of the best beer and ale pubs in London, which makes its incongruous location on an otherwise unloved section of Brixton Road even more incredible. A super place.
Bar Termini
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Soho
  • price 2 of 4
When someone calls two people a ‘dream team’, my hype-detector lights up. But with Bar Termini, the DT moniker seems fitting. Bar Termini does two things: coffee and cocktails. Coffee is overseen by Marco Arrigo, head of quality for Illy, who has probably trained more baristas – and trained them rigorously – than anyone else in the UK. Cocktails are supervised by Tony Conigliaro, the alco-alchemist behind 69 Colebrooke Row and Zetter Town House, among others. Teams don’t get much dreamier than this. So, have they found a supersized venue to match the giant reputation? Ha ha ha. There’s room for 25, and seated service only, though you may stand if you order a single ‘espresso al bar’ (£1) for Italian-style drinking-and-running. The coffee list has just four brews, all of them classics but with a twist. The alcohol list has three negronis, four ‘aperitivi’, three wines, one bottled beer. There is also a small food offering: baked goods from L’Anima in Shoreditch by day, charcuterie and cheese in the evening. I went for coffee at lunchtime. The ‘espresso al tavola’ (they’ll explain what it means) was unusual but flawless. On my second visit later the same day, I had a marsala martini: Beefeater gin, sweet marsala, dry vermouth, almond bitters served straight-up. A model of simplicity and balance, this is one of the best cocktails in London. Prices for hot drinks are higher than the norm (£4, apart from single espresso), but that’s a for triple espresso shot. Cocktails, by contra
Advertising
Swift
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Soho
  • price 2 of 4
From the couple who brought us cult faves Nightjar and Oriole comes Swift, swooping into the former site of the celebrated, groundbreaking Lab Bar. Frankly, if they’d named it Tit I’d have still been excited, since here they’ve also teamed up with folks who’ve worked across Milk & Honey and Callooh Callay, to overwhelming success. Swift is split in two: a buzzy, casual-yet-sparkling bar on the ground level and a dark lounge below. Upstairs, the look is faintly Italian, mirrored in a menu of affordable aperitivos. This includes an unmissable sgroppino – a thick and frothy prosecco-based drink with lemony sorbet floating on top. For snacks, nearby drinkers ordered oysters, but I was happily ensconsed in a Guinness welsh rarebit, heavy with pungent cheese and onion. Pongy titbits notwithstanding, Swift makes a great date spot. If it’s going well, take it downstairs. The basement is lit for romantic trysts, the showy side of Oriole and Nightjar eschewed in favour of pared-back sophistication. Staff are attentive, guiding you through an original menu edging towards nightcaps. I tried a powerful Amber Cane, a reinvented manhattan using rum in place of whisky. So taking over the spot where London’s cocktail-making reputation was cemented doesn’t seem too bold. Doing it in such a stripped-back way was the ballsy move, but, boy has it paid off. Time for a Swift one.
Fitz’s Bar
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Bloomsbury
  • price 3 of 4
If Rick James and Jay Gatsby got together to throw a bash, I reckon it would look like Fitz’s Bar. Jazz Age plumage fluffs up from behind chairs while a giant glitter ball hangs from above; the back bar’s arches hint at art deco elegance while bright modern art punctuates the walls; and music drifts from up-tempo funk to mellow jazz. Fitz’s sits inside the Kimpton Fitzroy London, just on the corner of Russell Square. This hotel comes from a UK group with prestige, and you sense it from the marble-heavy lobby leading into this disco decadence. Staff in floral print were accommodating from the get-go, showing off their new home as we entered and offering suggestions on where to take our night when we came to settle up. They promptly poured water and served Twiglets on the side, a fittingly retro touch. Snacks from the menu are well worth your attention, too – from oozing bone-marrow croquettes dressed with capers to salty hasselback potatoes topped with sour cream and caviar. Gatsby would approve. The cocktail menu is filled with illustrations and word clouds to help you figure out flavours. A fizz-heavy Spy Princess (£17) was served in a coupe with a splay of pretty petals on its frothy top. Veer from champagne cocktails and you get a more affordable hotel bar experience – £14 will get you a quirky and sublime cucumber-flavoured daiquiri or a Vesca Negroni, the classic drink lifted with coconut and rosehip. The team hails from London bars Milk & Honey and Callooh Callay – and
Advertising
First Aid Box
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Herne Hill
  • price 2 of 4
When your neighbourhood café serves cocktails worthy of Zone 1, you know the only way you’ll ever leave London will be in a box. But this Herne Hill newcomer – the second from the team behind Brixton’s Shrub and Shutter –  will even go so far as to help you keep the Grim Reaper at bay. Because, as the name suggests, it specialises in ‘cure-all’ drinks. A great fit for the area’s relaxed, thirtysomething inhabitants, First Aid Box’s white tiled walls, shelves of pseudo-pharmacological gear and menu with a medicinal theme suggest the snap of a latex glove, but it’s a concept lubricated by charming staff, upbeat music and flattering, flickering candlelight. Drinks make ample use of ‘shrubs’: spirits suspended in vinegar-based syrups that make for thrilling flavour bases. Updates of tried-and-tested classics include an aviation-style mix called Conscious Pilot (£8.50). Here, the rhubarb-infused gin lends the drink a subtle tartness that prevents the triple whammy of violette liqueur, violette shrub and violette droplets from delving too deep into granny’s knicker drawer. Elsewhere, the creamy exuberance of a Ramos gin fizz is given added depth with a shot of rich, earthy matcha-and-pistachio shrub. Both are served without gimmicks – though if it’s theatre you’re after, there’s a smoking cocktail served in a bell jar (£8), a cucumber sherbet in a bottle with a miniature cone of sorbet as a stopper (£9) or a vitamin C-laced bramble with a syringe of blood-hued Chambord (£8).But the
Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town
  • Bars and pubs
  • Spitalfields
Part of the trend for ‘secret’ speakeasies, this one is a basement bar beneath the Spitalfields branch of the Breakfast Club. The entrance is the one that looks like a big Smeg fridge door. Go inside and you’ll find a quirky, dimly lit cocktail bar clad in exposed brick and wood: it’s all a bit like a cabin from 'Twin Peaks'. The drinks menu makes an amusing mockery of more self-conscious ‘underground’ venues. The cocktails– classics and house specials – are well crafted on the whole.
Recommended
    You may also like
    You may also like
    Bestselling Time Out offers
      Advertising

      The best things in life are free.

      Get our free newsletter – it’s great.

      Loading animation
      Déjà vu! We already have this email. Try another?

      🙌 Awesome, you're subscribed!

      Thanks for subscribing! Look out for your first newsletter in your inbox soon!