The Best Bars in London: The Dilettante’s Guide to Where to Drink in London Right Now

Looking for the best bars in London? Don’t miss this guide – London’s best drinking spots, area by area.

I hate to come across like a braggy-mc-braggface but if there’s one eternal truth, it’s that London knows how to do a good bar. 

Scrap that – it knows how to do an absolutely amazing bar. You know, the kind that you pop in for a quick one with a friend and end up drinking your way through a large portion of the menu, spending your life savings and waking up with a sore head, fuzzy mouth and fond memories the morning after. 

Drinking my way around the best bars in London is something of a personal forte – from Farringdon to Covent Garden, Shoreditch to Soho and London Bridge, I’ve written so many neighbourhood bar guides that it made sense to do the big one: the best bars in London. 

The bar is high (pun intended), but these are the places where you can always find a delicious drink, stellar service and the kind of atmosphere that puts you at ease. 

Just remember to eat dinner first. 

Best Bars in Central London 

Disrepute 

Disrepute Bar Soho
Disrepute

Soho

My pick of the ever-popular Soho cocktail scene is the glamorous Disrepute. Tucked down a laneway in the heart of Soho, it’s a cocktail lovers’ dream.

The setting is elegant yet unpretentious, while the cocktails are mixed to perfection. 

It’s technically a member’s bar, but walk-ins are welcome.

Address: 4 Kingly Court, Soho W1F 9RR

Upstairs at Rules 

Upstairs at Rules
Upstairs at Rules

Covent Garden

Hidden away atop one of London’s oldest and best respected restaurants, Upstairs at Rules is a serious delight.

The decor here looks a little like stepping into a glasshouse, and then the ah-may-zing cocktail list is the stuff your dreams are made of. 

Don’t miss this one if you’re looking for nice bars in central London – she’s pretty fabulous.

Address: 34-35 Maiden Lane, Covent Garden, London WC2E 7LB

Experimental Cocktail Club 

Cocktails at the Experimental Cocktail Club
Cocktails at the Experimental Cocktail Club

Chinatown

Fair warning: it’s not easy to find this speakeasy-themed bar tucked away in Chinatown. Once you do though – the Experimental Cocktail Club (ECC) is hard to leave.

The cocktails are absolutely fabulous – if you’ve got a favourite then chances are the bartenders can mix it up for you, or take your pick from the seriously good list.

Address: 13a Gerrard St, Chinatown, London W1D 5PS

Oriole 

Chateau de Saumur
Chateau de Saumur, Oriole

Farringdon

Great bars in London don’t come much more effortlessly cool than Oriole.

From its hidden location and speakeasy vibes, to its utterly fabulous cocktail menu, this is a place for serious drinkers. 

Or anybody who just wants to have a good time in a gorgeous setting – usually with jazz.

Address: E Poultry Ave, Farringdon, London EC1A 9LH

Nine Lives 

Aiko Cocktail at Nine Lives
the Aiko at Nine Lives

London Bridge

If you like your cocktail bars more on the “community living room” side, then you’ve got to make your way down to Nine Lives.

There’s houseplants galore, friendly staff (and regulars) plus great vibes. Don’t worry, the cocktails are awesome as well.

Address: 8 Holyrood St, London SE1 2EL

Mark’s Bar 

Best Soho Bars - Mark's Bar
Mark’s Bar

Soho

Fads may come and go but seriously mixology prowess is always in fashion. And that’s what’s on offer at Mark’s Bar.

The genius here is the simple approach – from the name to the cocktail list and the approach to cocktails. It all just works.

Address: 66-70 Brewer St, Soho, London W1F 9UP

Milk & Honey 

Cocktails at Milk & Honey
Cocktails at Milk & Honey

Soho

Prohibition-themed bars are a dime a dozen in London, however Milk & Honey was a trendsetter.

For almost twenty years (a millennia for London bars), they’ve been serving up amazing cocktails in a very lavish interior. 

Note it’s members only after 11pm.

Address: 61 Poland St, Soho, London W1F 7NU

American Bar at Brasserie Zedel 

Le Donnet at Brasserie Zedel
Le Donnet at Brasserie Zedel

Soho

Don’t let the name fool you – this top bar in London is actually all about the Parisian chic. Even though it’s got definite opulent vibes, the American Bar at Brasserie Zedel also unpretentious and welcoming.

From fab cocktails and a great wine list, to delish French-inspired small plates, it’s all good in my book.

Address: In the Basement of Brasserie Zedel, 20 Sherwood St, Soho, London W1F 7ED, UK

American Bar at The Savoy 

Cocktails at The American Bar Savoy
Cocktails at The American Bar

Strand

Not to be confused with the other American Bar, the one at the Savoy is truly American style.

Its main claim to fame is that it’s the oldest cocktail bar in Britain (and one of the fanciest, for sure). It’s been serving up drinks mixed to perfection since 1893, so you know they must be doing something right.

Address: The Savoy, Strand, London WC2R 0EZ

Swift Bar 

Swift Bar Soho
The Downstairs Bar

Soho

Why choose one amazing bar in London when you can have two? Yup, that’s what’s on offer at Swift Bar.

Upstairs you’ll find a cocktail bar serving up light dishes, while downstairs things are all about the live music (and drinks, of course).

Address: 12 Old Compton St, Soho, London W1D 4TQ

Bar Termini

Bar Termini
Bar Termini

Soho

We all love coffee and cocktails – and the fabulous Bar Termini approaches them both with equal care and consideration.

Whether you’re getting a fabulous daiquiri or a perfectly poured latte, you can expect to be seriously impressed.

That is – if you can get a seat. There’s only 25 on offer, so you’ll want to book or go early.

Address: 7 Old Compton St, Soho, London W1D 5JE

Compagnies de Vins Surnaturels 

Wine at Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels

Seven Dials

You don’t need to worry about struggling to find the perfect red at Compagnies de Vins Surnaturels, a gorgeous Parisian-inspired haunt in Neal’s Yard.

There’s an impressive selection of more than 400 wines here. Don’t be worried that it could be all quantity over quality – they’re carefully and expertly selected.

Address: 8-10 Neal’s Yard, London WC2H 9DP

Lyaness 

Lyaness Cocktail Bar Sea Containers
Lyaness

South Bank

London collectively gasped in horror when it was announced that Lyaness’s predecessor, Dandelyan, was closing down. It had, after all, been named the best bar in the world.

Amazingly, the reinvented Lyaness has managed to outdo it. This is the cocktail bar of all cocktail bars – perfect drinks, perfect decor and perfect service. 

Address: Sea Containers, 20 Upper Ground, South Bank, London SE1 9PD

68 & Boston 

Soho

What’s better than one nice bar in London? Two nice bars in London, stacked on top of each other.

That’s precisely what’s on offer at 68 and Boston. The hardest bit is choosing which one to go for – the drinks and decor at both are totally fabulous. 

So, I say go to both.

Address: 5 Greek St, Soho, London W1D 4DD, UK

12th Knot 

12th Knot Sea Containers
View from 12th Knot

South Bank

Located upstairs from Lyaness at Sea Containers, 12th Knot has the additional allure of being a rooftop view.

The cocktails are also fabulous, and you can enjoy them while looking out at that iconic London skyline.

Address: Roof Sea Containers, 20 Upper Ground, South Bank, London SE1 9PD

The Parrot 

Holborn

There are few better accompaniments to an epic cocktail than epic live music. And that’s exactly what you’ll find at The Parrot.

The bar is vaguely tropical-themed, although the low lighting is very European. It sounds a bit odd, but trust me, it totally works.

Address: 45 Aldwych, Holborn, London WC2B 4DW

Mr Fogg’s House of Botanicals

Fitzrovia

Spend any time in London and one thing will become abundantly clear: we really love our gin.

Undoubtedly, one of the best places to try some of the capital’s best gin is at the whimsical Mr Fogg’s House of Botanicals.

The drinks list is great and the decor is seriously fabulous – weird and wonderful in equal measure.

Address: 48 Newman St, Fitzrovia, London W1T 1QQ

Best Bars in London: East London 

Nightjar 

Cocktails at Nightjar
Cocktails at Nightjar

Shoreditch

No type of music goes better with cocktails than jazz. Fact. And that’s exactly what’s on offer most nights of the week at Nightjar.

Amongst the speakeasy set, it’s one of the most popular bars in London – for good reason. The cocktail list is super cool, and so is the decor. Go find out what all the fuss is about.

Address: 129 City Rd, Hoxton, London EC1V 1JB

Callooh Callay 

Mixologist at Callooh Callay London
Served cold

Shoreditch

Go down the rabbit hole with this amazing literary themed bar in uber cool Shoreditch.

If the setting isn’t enough to have you totally enamoured, the cocktails at Callooh Callay should do the trick. 

If you’re extra lucky, you might even score an invite to the exclusive upstairs club, JubJub.

Address: 65 Rivington St, Hackney, London EC2A 3AY

Happiness Forgets

Spruce and root cocktail
The Spruce & Root at Happiness Forgets

Shoreditch

If you want to flex your knowledge of London’s fabulous bar scene, then you’d best get yourself a table at sought-after Happiness Forgets, one of London’s hottest bars.

Tucked away on Horton Square, the cocktails here are legendary – meaning tables are scarce. Book ahead and prepare for some seriously epic drinks.

Address: 8-9 Hoxton Square, Hackney, London N1 6NU

Found Shoreditch 

Cocktails at Found, London Bar
Heaven & Hell at Found

Shoreditch

It’s certainly not the biggest of London’s bars, but it’s perfectly-sized and one of my faves.

Cosy and romantic, Found Shoreditch is one of those places where you can settle in for a romantic date or heart-to-hearts with your best friends.

The fabulous, ever-changing cocktail list is pretty awesome too.

Address: 5 Ravey St, Hackney, London EC2A 4QW

Victorian Bath House 

The City

Us Londoners love a quirky take on the classic London cocktail bar. From parking lots to public loos, we’ve turned all kinds of spaces into drink stops.

One of these is the Victorian Bath House – the hint for its past life is in the name.

The quirk is fun, but what I really love about this place is the excellent cocktail list and overall good vibes.

Address: 7-8 Bishopsgate, London EC2M 3TJ

Old Street Records 

Old Street Records, London
Old Street Records

Shoreditch

This New York-inspired bar is one of my favourites if you’re on the lookout for a way to enjoy great cocktails and save a few pounds.

This is one of my picks for a happy hour in London – they’re 2-4-1 and just as epic as usual.

If you miss the Happy Hour, Old Street Records’ drinks are still worth it at full price.

Address: 350-354 Old St, Hackney, London EC1V 9NQ

The Last Tuesday Society 

Cambridge Heath

If you like your cocktail bars on the quirky side, then prepare to be totally dazzled by The Last Tuesday Society.

Firstly, it’s nestled in the Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities, Fine Art & Natural History. Then there’s the calendar of events, usually of the literary variety. 

Finally, there’s the creative cocktail menu – with the absinthe being a particular highlight.

Address: 11 Mare St, London E8 4RP

Ruby’s Bar & Lounge 

Hackney

The stairs down to Ruby’s Bar & Lounge are a little on the rickety side, but trust me – delights wait downstairs.

This bar opened up in 2012 but it looks a lot older, with an eclectic range of antiques.

Of course, the main highlight is the to die for cocktails.

Address: 76 Stoke Newington Rd, Hackney Downs, London N16 7XB

Passione Vino

Shoreditch

Oenophiles (wine lovers), get ready for a serious delight. Passione Vino is legendary amongst the wine-loving crowd in London.

It’s easy to overlook the humble facade, but step inside and lose yourself with over 300 fine wines on offer. They’re predominantly Italian, and all fabulous.

Address: 85 Leonard St, Hackney, London EC2A 4QS

Best Bars in London: South London 

Frank’s Cafe at Bold Tendencies

Peckham

There are few better places to enjoy London in the sun than at the breezy Frank’s Cafe at Bold Tendencies.

It’s a not-for-profit arts organisation, and the artsy vibes definitely shine through on the rooftop bar. 

The drinks are good, but what’s particularly awesome here is the atmosphere and sunshine.

Address: Bold Tendencies, 7th-10th Floor Multi Storey Car Park, 95A Rye Ln, London SE15 4ST

Tap & Bottle 

Tap & Bottle London Bridge
Tap & Bottle

London Bridge

If you’re more about the vino rather than the cocktails, you’d best make a beeline for his amazing London bar.

It boasts a seriously epic wine list including many varieties on tap. Yes, you read that right.

Hey, it works and it’s good for the environment. There’s a reason this place is a favourite amongst wine loving Londoners.

Address: In the Flat Iron Square Building, 64 Union St, London SE1 1SG

Shrub & Shutter 

Brixton

A simple, Scandi-style cocktail bar and cafe is a bit of a juxtaposition against bustling Brixton. However, it totally works.

Unusually for a place that also does excellent food, Shrub & Shutter serves up drinks that can compete with any London cocktail bar.

Perfect when you great drinks and great food in a trendy setting.

Address: 336 Coldharbour Ln, Brixton, London SW9 8QH

No29 Power Station West

No. 29 Battersea
No. 29 (c) Mariell Lind Hansen

Battersea

An old power station might not seem like the ideal setting for a great bar in London. However, you can always trust Londoners to take something grunge-y and turn it into something super cool.

In this case, it’s a fabulous cocktail bar and restaurant by the name of No29 Power Station West. With great decor and drinks, it’s a definite winner.

Address: Battersea Power Station, 29 Circus West, London SW11 8NN

Brunswick House & Garden 

Vauxhall

Settings don’t come much more impressive than the elegant Georgian mansion of Brunswick House & Garden.

So, if you’re looking for a very English cocktail experience, you’d best check out the bar inside.

It’s all extremely glamorous and sought-after – so make sure you book ahead to secure a spot.

Address: 30 Wandsworth Road, Vauxhall, London SW8 2LG

Omeara

Club night at Omeara
Club night at Omeara

London Bridge

Live music is a key ingredient to any great city, and Omeara is the place to go if you’re looking for it in London.

Many great British artists have gotten their start in this much loved space, and the drinks are pretty damn good too.

Address: 6 O’Meara St, London SE1 1TE

Lost & Found 

Lost & Found
(c) Lost & Found

Balham

This little cocktail bar has oodles of vintage charm, from the old school wallpaper to eclectic mix of gilded frames on the wall.

Lost & Found has a real local feel – if your local serves up really, really freaking good cocktails.

So, if you’re after a great drink in a charming city – this is a great pick.

Address: 10 Bedford Hill, Balham, London SW12 9RG

Little Nans at The Cavendish Arms 

Stockwell

Sometimes it’s just so hard to pick between the good pubs and the good bars in London. For those times, there’s Little Nans at The Cavendish Arms.

The first highlight of this bar is the quirky, eclectic decor. The second is the seriously fabulous drinks, from the great wine list to the oh-so-fab cocktails.

Address: Deptford, London SE8 4BZ

Best Bars in London: North London

Laki Kane

Islington

We might joke, but when it gets down to it – who doesn’t love a tiki bar, really?

For a stylish yet fun take on your traditional tiki experience, there’s Laki Kane in Islington. What’s in a name? Laki Kane means ‘a lucky person’ in Polynesian – you’ll undoubtedly be feeling pretty lucky once you have had some of their delicious cocktails (made only with natural ingredients you know).

Rum is the beverage du jour here, and there are frequent tastings and other events. The rum based cocktails are fab, although there are other options if that’s not your thing.

Address: 144-145 Upper St, Islington, London N1 1QY,

Hoxley & Porter 

Islington

Retro interiors can sometimes get a tad questionable (or totally tacky), but then there’s places like Hoxley & Porter that do them just right.

Effortlessly styled like an early 1900s hideaway, this cocktail bar is a true gem.

Drop by for the beautiful decor, stay for the exceptional drinks.

Address: 153 Upper St, Islington, London N1 1RA

Clerkenwell & Social 

Clerkenwell Social
Clerkenwell Social

Farringdon

If you’re craving something fairly substantial to eat along with your world-class drinks, head on over to Clerkenwell & Social.

Its cocktail list is impressive, with the classics as well as a few more innovative options. They also offer up some great food, including delicious pizzas. Because pizza and cocktails is a winning combination.

Address: 2-5 St John’s Square, Farringdon, London EC1M 4DE

Anthracite

King’s Cross

Bars near railway stations are not usually the place to go for epic cocktails – but Anthracite is a serious exception.

This relative newcomers has seriously upped the King’s Cross cool factor, serving up incredible martinis, amongst other drinks. (But seriously, guys, go for the martinis.)

Address: Within the Great Northern Hotel at St Pancras Station, London N1C 4TB

Drink, Shop, Do

Drink Shop Do
Drink Shop Do

Islington

Drinking on its own is so 2016. After all, why partake in a bit of imbibing alone when you could also pair it with some fun activities?

So, doing craft and drinking might seem a bit odd at first – but trust me, you’ll end up having a wow of a time at Drink, Shop, Do

Plus, you might just come away with a handcrafted masterpiece (or better yet, a total disaster to laugh about later.)

Address: 9 Caledonian Rd, Islington, London N1 9DX

Little Bat

Little Bat
(c) Little Bat

Islington

There’s no need to choose between a cosy night at the pub or a stylish night at a cocktail bar with Little Bat.

Blending the best of London’s drinking scene together, this fabulous little bar is a favourite with visitors and locals. Whether you want a killer martini or a humble pint, they’ve got it on offer – and it’s damn good.

Address: Cocktail Bars, 54 Islington Park St, Islington, London N1 1PX

Best Bars in London: West London 

Gin Tonica at The Distillery 

Notting Hill

Too much gin can only be a good thing – and don’t the folks at The Distillery know it. My favourite of their offerings is Gin Tonica, the exceptional bar.

The emphasis is – obviously – on gin – served up in huge, fishbowl glasses popular in the Basque region of Spain.

If you love gin, don’t miss this one.

Address: 186 Portobello Road, London W11 1LA

Trailer Happiness 

Notting Hill

In a world full of sleek, minimalist style decor, sometimes you just need a place that goes all-out on the kitsch.

That place is Trailer Happiness, which is inspired by Polynesia and offers up some seriously good vibes. If you’re looking for a fun spot for a great drink, you can’t go wrong here.

Address: 177 Portobello Rd, Notting Hill, London W11 2DY

Vagabond Fulham 

Fulham

Wine lover? Don’t miss Vagabond Fulham, one of the all-around best vino experiences of any bar in London.

Here, you can get a “wine card” that allows you to taste some of the 100+ varieties on offer. Cheese and charcuterie boards are also available. 

There’s a dazzling selection by the glass, so get prepared for a wine masterclass here. 

Address: 18-22 Vanston Pl, Fulham, London SW6 1AX

The Bletchley 

Chelsea

Who doesn’t love a cocktail bar that’s also more than a little theatre and brain tester?

That’s what’s on offer at The Bletchley, one of the best bars in London if you’re on the hunt for something quirky.

It’s an immersive WW2 bar and quite the experience. Hint: don’t drink too much, as you’ll need your wits about you to navigate the cocktail list.

Address: 459 King’s Rd, Chelsea, London SW10 0LJ

No 11 Pimlico Road 

Belgravia

One of the best all-day dining and drinking options in London, this Belgravia bar is light and breezy.

The food is great and so are the drinks (cocktail, wine and craft beer). Best of all, they’re on offer all day at No 11 Pimlico Road – so it’s perfect if you’re on the hunt for a boozy brunch.

Address: 11 Pimlico Rd, Belgravia, London SW1W 8NA

Great Bars in London: Final Thoughts 

So, there we are – 46 totally amazing bars in London. Drink safely kids, your liver will thank you. 

Any burning suggestions? Drop them in the comments below. 

Top Bars in London: Map

Click here for a map of the London bars featured in this guide. 

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