Best bars in the City

Looking for somewhere brilliant to drink in the City of London area? Take a look at our pick of the best City bars, so you can be sure that you’ll be sipping with the capital’s most clued-up suits. If you need a bar in Bank or a libation in Leadenhall, you’ll find our curated list of the best places to drink in the City of London below. Scroll on for London’s best City bars, all in one manageable list.

Posted on 02 July 2018

Best bars in the City

Every one of the bars and pubs in London with al fresco drinking featured in SquareMeal’s list of London’s best bars and pubs for alfresco drinking have been tried and tested by critics and our own customers. For more drinking inspiration, see our recommendations for the best bars in London. Each SquareMeal listing features an independent review, as well as reviews from those who have visited, together with unique special offers such as free drinks and discounts.


The Gibson

The Gibson

Bars

44 Old Street, London, EC1V 9AQ

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Social 24 at City Social

Social 24 at City Social

Bars

24th Floor, Tower 42, 25 Old Broad Street, London, EC2N 1HQ

Drinks at City Social are not about to be upstaged by its grand views of The Gherkin and London lights twinkling far below. All bullish swagger, Jason Atherton's City gig reflects the Square Mile's high-water mark before that referendum put the cat among the pin-striped pigeons. However, Brexiteers and Bremainers can call a temporary truce over cocktails that are far more sophisticated than their excruciating puns might suggest: Gold Plum-Sachs, A Damson in a Stress, Oh My Gourd (a pumpkin-infused Tapatio blanco, lychee, lime and agave concoction). OMG, indeed! Meanwhile, The Duck-Anter, a strawberry sling for four to share, incorporates Aylesbury Duck vodka (please note that no birds are harmed in the production of this Canadian spirit). Classy small and large plates from the Michelin-starred kitchen are mercifully free of such puns – think smoked pork empanadas, avocado tempura with aubergine purée, game cottage pie, steaks or battered fish with duck-fat chips (Fridays only).

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Nightjar

Nightjar

Bars

129 City Road, London, EC1V 1JB

Book in advance for Edmund Weil and Rosie Stimpson's highly rated and regularly rammed jazz-age hootenanny, which is home to nightly blues, swing and ragtime jams. Golden eras of the cocktail are revisited in a considered list of well-built drinks whose recipes often involve abstruse ingredients: named after 1930s jelly-legs jiggler, Josephine Baker, Nightjar's signature crusta adds Afro mbongo spice, tonka bean liqueur and passion fruit curd to its Ysabel Regina brandy base. And you’d be forgiven for wanting to purloin its chic tiki-tastic drinking vessels: porcelain wishing wells, conch shells, glass bongs, Pygmy hunting horns and ancient copper bells. Nightjar's insistence on over-elaborate presentation can sometimes leave you struggling not to tip the sip down your front.

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Sushisamba (bar)

Sushisamba (bar)

Bars

Heron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate (38th floor), London, EC2N 4AY

From the moment the glass-box express lift whisks you 38 floors up the face of Heron Tower, this cocky Japanese/Latino fusion pile screams ‘Las Vegas’ – a vision of slick selfie-stick perfection and pizzazz aimed at the big-money crowd. The later the hour, the louder the DJs and the livelier the scene as booze-fuelled high rollers ramp up the party vibe. To drink, investigate Asian-inspired takes on the classics: a Gimlet doctored with coconut and kaffir leaf, a Martini involving Grey Goose La Poire Nashi or a Negroni manqué made with Hibiki Japanese whisky and plum liqueur. If the latter doesn't warm you up, the fire pits and snuggly blankets on the breezy sky terrace should do the trick. With its centrepiece alfresco bar under the flame and metallic leaf canopy of a giant tree sculpture, this is a soothing sanctuary away from the mayhem.

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Singer Tavern

Singer Tavern

Bars

1 City Road, London, EC1Y 1AG

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Anise

Anise

Bars

9 Devonshire Square, London, EC2M 4YL

Indian culinary star Vivek Singh's standalone cocktail lounge next door to Cinnamon Kitchen is a City hotspot, popular for office celebrations, first dates and after-work bashes. Its vision of spice-toned comfort is more modern-day Mumbai than Bollywood bling, but its tailor-made for indulging in Instagram-pretty east-meets-west cocktails with names like Emerald Elephant and Mystical Journey. If Rose Pink Sari and Lady Yang (a lychee and lavender-foamed vodka Martini available by the glass or pitcher) sound a touch too camp, the bartender will happily knock out a bourbon-based White Bullet or a hair-raising Chilli Black Mango (whisky, fireball, mango juice and spicy vanilla sugar topped with dried mango and a hint of black pepper). Reasonable prices extend to the roster of affordable 'bazaar street food' – think hot-and-sweet shrimp skewers, KFC (Kerala fried chicken) or grilled aubergine with sesame and peanut crumble

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Coq d

Coq d'Argent (bar)

Bars

1 Poultry, London, EC2R 8EJ

Manicured lawns, topiary, wisteria-clad cloisters and an alfresco bar make this memorable rooftop garden a shoo-in for summer drinking. Covered and heated against autumn’s chills – with a further bar indoors – D&D London's fine-plumed silver Coq has plenty to crow about whatever the weather. Cool down with first-rate fizzes, rum iced tea, a dozen different G&Ts, Italian spritzes, virgin Coladas and classy wines from under £25 a bottle; alternatively, dip into a line-up of vodka sours involving lavender, pisco and plum, apricot and Earl Grey, or sip a variant made with bourbon and saffron. By contrast, winter warmers include first-class flights of three whiskies (from £17.50) from a creditable collection of malts – all served in the après-ski chalet setting of the seasonal Lodge d’Argent. Snacks cover everything from oysters and escargots to grilled vegetable brochettes, prawn tempura, garlic-baked Camembert, hot wings and charcuterie boards.

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Found

Found

Bars

5a Ravey Street, London, EC2A 4QW

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Nuala Bar

Nuala Bar

Bars

70-74 City Road, London, EC1Y 2BJ

Black Rock

Black Rock

Bars

9 Christopher Street, London, EC2A 2BS

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Duck & Waffle (bar)

Duck & Waffle (bar)

Bars

Heron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate, London, EC2N 4AY

Its awkward seating arrangements may not be London's most accommodating, but bum deals are rare when it comes to head honcho Richard Woods’ singularly experimental creations at Duck & Waffle. Obscure ingredients boldly go where no mixologist has gone before: charred dandelion-root 'expresso', burnt toast, 'damp gin,' asparagus ends and cut grass are not for the timid. But if you duck the venue’s over-zealous waffle ('urban foraging vs urban decay'), you'll be amply rewarded. The likes of Pine Needle Lemonade, Avocado Aperitivo (Patrón Reposado, chocolate, toasted walnut, avocado skin infusion) and Hay! (Jack Daniel's, maple, salted caramel and hay infusion) just about justify their vertiginous cost at this hotspot’s perch atop Heron Tower. To eat, nibble on BBQ spiced pig’s ears, bacon-wrapped dates or crispy polenta with Parmesan and truffle. Just add some truly astounding City views and you’ll gather this is no lame duck.

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Hawksmoor Guildhall Bar

Hawksmoor Guildhall Bar

Bars

10 Basinghall Street, London, EC2V 5BQ

Made to look satisfyingly old-school like the adjacent steakhouse restaurant, Hawksmoor Guildhall’s bar features ample wood and leather upholstery, which fits well with the airy, basement premises. Such sophistication continues on the drinks list, where £8.50 secures a Sherry Crusta (Manzanilla, Shipwreck and lemon juice) or a Blinker (with raspberries replacing grenadine syrup in an updated take on the rye whiskey and grapefruit 1930s Familiar). Equally on the money is Cork Street Buck (a Jameson Select Reserve Irish whiskey and Manzanilla sherry Mule). Super-premium ‘top shelf tipples’ provide yet more seductive swank… at a price; you’ll pay £18 for the distinctly modern-sounding Fo’ Shizzle Ma Nizzle Swizzle (Beefeater Crown Jewel, grapefruit juice, bitters and sherbet). Bar snacks range from traditional with a twist (potted beef and bacon with Yorkshires) to voguish lobster mac & cheese – for £20 a pop, mind.

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The Devil

The Devil's Darling at The Napoleon

Bars

The Napoleon Hotel, 9 Christopher Street, London, EC2A 2BS

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Demon, Wise & Partners

Demon, Wise & Partners

Bars

27A Throgmorton Street, London, EC2N 2AN

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Coya Angel Court Pisco Bar

Coya Angel Court Pisco Bar

Bars

31-33 Throgmorton Street, London, EC2N 2AT

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Bottles

Bottles

Wine Bars

67 Brushfield Street, London, E1 6AA

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Rotunda at Four Seasons Ten Trinity Square

Rotunda at Four Seasons Ten Trinity Square

Bars

Four Seasons Hotel London at Ten Trinity Square, 10 Trinity Square, London, EC3N 4AJ

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Discount Suit Company

Discount Suit Company

Bars

29A Wentworth Street, London, E1 7TB

Squeezed into a former schmutter merchant's low-beamed storeroom, this is just the place if you want to wet your whistle in style off Petticoat Lane. As sharp as a mohair and silk suit worn by Marvin Gaye, Little Stevie Wonder or any similarly snappy 1960s dude who features on the retro cellar's Megawatt Northern Soul playlist, DSC’s cocktails measure up nicely: bespoke mezcal and poitín Old Fashioneds, elegant Daiquiris and rye Manhattans all represent off-the-peg perfection. Meanwhile, Two Smoking Barrels (Lapsang Souchong-infused brandy, whisky, Chartreuse elixir and bitters) for two to share is the sort of lethal slug that sartorial perfectionists Ronnie and Reggie Kray might have knocked back had this place existed in their heyday. Note that prices are more Cockney barrow boy than Bond Street boutique.

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