Happy hump day. Don’t you hate it when people say that? We’ve got a far better midweek slump-buster: here’s our list of the best happy hours in town from Clapham to Shoreditch – via a waterfall of daintily-priced drinks in-between.
Barrio East, Shoreditch (above)
Shantytown-chic is writ large across a corrugated-iron ceiling crawling with plastic vines, while rough-hewn wooden booths and blazing neon signs are shaken and stirred with a hefty shot of bright carnival colour. Cocktails – in jam jars – fuel the fun, with switched-on young staff knocking out the likes of Ron Mocha Boca (an X-rated chocolate milkshake made with rum, marzipan, coffee and cream).
Happy hour: Until 8pm daily, selected cocktails £5, bottle of wine £5 off (except sparkling), £3 beer
Honky Tonk, Clapham
For those hungry times when only good ol’ American cooking will do, this music-themed US diner hits the spot. Choose a booth with a bunch of friends for privacy, or join the throng in the main restaurant – wherever you are, you’ll be in sight of a TV showing the spinning LP logo, or screening whichever big game is on.
Happy hour: Mon-Sat 5-8pm, Sun 5-10pm, selected cocktails 2 for 1
Jerusalem Bar & Kitchen, Fitzrovia (above)
Jerusalem is a bar with a split personality – and that’s a compliment. By day, the subterranean dive is warm and inviting, with mellow music and chunky farmhouse tables. By night, you suddenly notice the rich red drapes and gothic candelabra, as the DJs and revellers descend. The music is cranked up and the drinks begin to flow, while an up-for-it crowd let their hair down.
Happy hour: Mon-Sun 4-8pm, cocktail jug £12.50, bottle of beer £2.50
Joe's Southern Kitchen & Bar, Covent Garden (below)
Spread over three floors of a converted warehouse, the interior is a mash-up of old-school Americana with an urban edge – think steel-topped tables, scarlet banquettes and vintage Coca Cola signs on the earthy brick walls. The downstairs bar is a popular spot for an after-work unwind with the great Tequila list.
Happy hour: Mon-Fri 4-6pm, Sun all day, £4 signature cocktails
The Jones Family Project, Shoreditch
“I love the space” declares an advocate of this multifunctional bar-restaurant, which fuels Shoreditch’s creatives from breakfast until bedtime. The ground-floor bar acts as a café/workspace during office hours, but at night the cases holding teas and coffees behind the bar swing round to reveal spirits.
Happy hour: Mon-Sat 5-7pm, all cocktails £6
London Cocktail Club, Fitzrovia
Trussed up like a 1950s’ backstreet tattoo parlour, this rollicking rock-and-roll pit is like the wild sister of Sandy from Grease, all trashed biker-chick leather and fishnets. Load up on Lynchburg Lemonade and Long Island Iced Tea, or take a walk on the wild side with Spicy Noodle (a gin firecracker in a Pot Noodle cup).
Happy hour: Mon all day, Tues-Sat 4.30-7pm, two of the same cocktail for £10
The Rum Kitchen, Notting Hill (above)
More fun than your average kitchen, this place is promoted through social media and word of mouth only among an upmarket, party-loving crowd: there’s no sign outside the door. “Everyone looked like they were having a good time. And so did we” reports one fan.
Happy hour: Daily 6-8pm, selected cocktails £5
Salvador & Amanda, Bloomsbury (below)
The overwrought Almodóvar-esque styling of the Covent Garden original has been toned down at Salvador & Amanda’s offshoot in Bloomsbury. Open until 2.30am when DJs play at weekends, this duplex feels as if it belongs in a three-star Palma Nova hotel.
Happy hour: Daily 5-7pm, house wine £11/litre, two cocktails of the week for £10
SMITHS of Smithfield, Farringdon
This huge industrial space combines casual dining at entry level, with grander rooms as diners move up the building. Throughout the building you can expect a decent wine list (and great cocktails in the bar) and a casual, breezy atmosphere.
Happy hour: Daily 5-8pm, £6 cocktails, £15 for a bottle of Prosecco; free bottle when you book for 10 people
This article was published 15 July 2015