Best Cocktail Bars in London

Had a bad day? Craving a fun night out? Whatever the problem, we’d argue that cocktails are the answer (although we would also recommend taking advice from actual medical professionals in some cases, let's be sensible here). London is a thriving hub of cocktail bars, with the capital’s drinking dens stretching across Shoreditch to Mayfair. With so many cocktail bars to choose from in the city though, choosing where to sit back and sip can be somewhat of an overwhelming affair. Our definitive list of the best London cocktail bars is here to help, with options to suit every style, location and budget. Cheers to that!

Updated on 24 September 2019

Ok, we know what you’re thinking – London is full of cocktail bars. They’re practically perched on every corner, so surely you don’t need a guide to highlight the best. You just pick the one nearest to you and give it a try, right?

Well, we’d argue differently, as in our opinion there’s a whole world of difference between a good cocktail bar and a great one. Our pick of London cocktail bars that will fill you with joy (and shroud you in an alcohol blanket) feature the very best drinking destinations in the capital. Whether you’re on the hunt for the best Martini in town, or you want a cocktail that will look good on the ‘gram, our choice of the best cocktail bars in London has everything you could ever want.

It’s not just about the cocktails either, as we’ve also taken the atmosphere and service into consideration, as well as the all-important bar snacks menu. Every bar featured in SquareMeal’s best London cocktail bars list has been tried and tested by our team of independent critics, which means these are cocktails that you can trust (it’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it). So, what are you waiting for? Treat yourself to a cocktail or two and make it your mission to visit every bar on our list…just maybe not all on the same night. Bottoms up!  

The Blind Pig

The Blind Pig

58 Poland Street, London, London, W1F 7NR

Above Michelin-starred Social Eating House, Jason Atherton’s Blind Pig is a prohibition-inspired joint with a playful, seasonally changing menu which draws on a wide range of inspiration, such as popular childhood tales or summer picnics.

Under £30
Bars
Tayer + Elementary

Tayer + Elementary

152 Old Street, London, London, EC1V 9BW

Tayer + Elementary may have quickly gained cult status thanks to its much talked about Iberian pork katsu sando, but the drinks are the main focus here. Expect pioneering cocktails which make use of waste ingredients.

£30 - £49
Modern European
Bars
The Cocktail Trading Company Brick Lane

The Cocktail Trading Company Brick Lane

68 Bethnal Green Road, London, E1 6GQ

Camp as Christmas, Cocktail Trading Co’s sips are more often than not accompanied by joke shop garnishes. There’s substance underneath the gimmicks though, while the low-lit 1920’s inspired interiors make it a cosy date spot.

Bars
Beaufort Bar at The Savoy

Beaufort Bar at The Savoy

The Savoy, Strand, London, London, WC2R 0ET

Understated is not the word for Beaufort – black and gold interiors, bar snacks that make use of luxe ingredients, and a menu paying homage to famous former guests tells you everything you need to know.  

£30 - £49
Bars
Dukes Bar at Dukes Hotel

Dukes Bar at Dukes Hotel

Dukes Hotel, St James's Place, London, SW1A 1NY

Unapologetically old-school, Dukes Bar is the place for cocktail purists. The birthplace of Ian Fleming’s Vesper Martini, it’s an obvious choice for James Bond fans, while the candlelit cigar garden gives it extra 007 edge.

Bars
The Library Bar at The Ned

The Library Bar at The Ned

The Ned, 27 Poultry, London, EC2R 8AJ

Tucked behind Cecconi’s, the Library Bar seats just 18 and offers a welcome reprieve from The Ned’s chaotic ground floor. Breakfast at Emily’s, which tastes exactly like marmalade on toast, is the must-order signature cocktail.

Bars
Artesian Bar

Artesian Bar

Artesian Bar 1C Portland Place, London, London, W1B 1JA

A glamorous setting gives way to a pared-back menu at perennially popular Artesian. The drinks offering here is dubbed ‘A Minimalist Menu’ and features combinations such as Champagne and cream or Monkey Shoulder and Yuzu.

£50 - £79
Burgers
Avenue Bar

Avenue Bar

7-9 St James's Street, St. James's, London, SW1A 1EE

Having been around since 1996, Avenue has earned its place as a London stalwart. The cocktail bar at the front of the space serves seasonal tipples and a strong selection of G&Ts, alongside seafood-focused snacks.  

Bars
Homeboy

Homeboy

108 Essex Road, London, London, N1 8LX

Serving up a slice of modern Irish hospitality, intimate Homeboy welcomes lovers of whisky and Irish coffees to worship at its Islington altar. Snacks are fun too, including curry chips and a Tayto crisp sarnie.

Under £30
Bars
The Connaught Bar at the Connaught

The Connaught Bar at the Connaught

The Connaught, 16 Carlos Place, Mayfair, London, W1K 2AL

Fancy rubbing shoulders with the super-rich? The Connaught Bar is the place to indulge your fantasy. Theatrical touches such as Martinis made from a trolley add to the grandness, as do the impossibly chic interiors.  

Bars
Oriole

Oriole

Smithfield Market, London, EC1A 9LH

The follow-up to Nightjar, Oriole benefits from glamorous interiors and live jazz – it’s not a case of style over substance though, thanks to alluring cocktails that are made using ingredients sourced from around the globe. 

Bars
The American Bar at The Savoy

The American Bar at The Savoy

The Savoy, Strand, London, WC2R 0ET

Harking back to a golden age of cocktails, the American Bar pairs flawless service with sophisticated tipples that don’t grow stale (the drinks list changes each year). We’re also fans of the tinkling background piano.

Bars
Trailer Happiness

Trailer Happiness

177 Portobello Road, London, W11 2DY

Serving up a slice of Tiki paradise in Notting Hill, Trailer Happiness ticks plenty of boxes – rum lovers can explore the expansive list of bottles, while kitsch décor and colourful cocktails add to the fun.

Bars
Waeska at The Mandrake

Waeska at The Mandrake

The Mandrake Hotel, 20-21 Newman Street, London, W1T 1PG

The gazelle/peacock hybrid that hangs over the bar at Waeska sets the tone for a bar full of magic and mystique. Herbaceous cocktails are draw, served alongside upmarket snacks such as smoked salmon with caviar.

Bars
Social 24 at City Social

Social 24 at City Social

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

Part of Jason Atherton’s City Social, this sky-high bar is beloved by Square Milers. Expect a buzzy atmosphere and pun-tastic menu of chic cocktails, alongside boujis bar snacks including truffle arancini and goats cheese churros.

Bars
Scout

Scout

224 Graham Road , London, E8 1BP

Tapping into the hot topic of sustainability, Matt Whiley’s Scout follows a zero-waste approach, with much of the ever-changing cocktail list made from foraged ingredients. Wooded booth seating and hanging plants add to the outdoorsy vibe. 

Bars
Duck & Waffle (bar)

Duck & Waffle (bar)

Heron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate, London, EC2N 4AY

40 floors high, Duck & Waffle’s bar is one of few 24/7 drinking destinations in London. That fact, coupled with jaw-dropping views and inventive riffs on classic cocktails mean its popularity comes as no surprise.

Bars
Fitz

Fitz's

Kimpton Fitzroy London, Corner of Guilford Street and Russell Square, Bloomsbury, London, WC1B 5BE

With the kind of interiors that Jay Gatsby would fanboy over, this glam bar at the Kimpton Fitzroy hotel is a seductive spot for date night cocktails, which might include Modern Manhattans and complex Martinis.

Bars
Coupette

Coupette

423 Bethnal Green Road, London, E2 0AN

Dripping with urban edge, Bethnal Green’s Coupette features bare brick walls and a hip hop soundtrack. Its cocktail menu majors in gentle updates on the classics, including a Truffled White Negroni and Champagne Pina Colada.

Bars
Super Lyan

Super Lyan

153-155 Hoxton Street, London, N1 6PJ

Below drinks-led restaurant Cub sits Super Lyan, from Ryan Chetiyawardana. A departure from his previous projects, Super Lyan is intentionally extra, featuring stripper poles and a drinks menu that includes booze-spiked milkshakes and ice cream floats.

Bars
Callooh Callay

Callooh Callay

65 Rivington Street, London, EC2A 3AY

Looking to avoid the masses on your next Shoreditch outing? Head to Callooh Callay, where you’ll find mismatched décor and fun cocktails with deliciously silly names such as Jabberwocky Milk and Taming of the Shark. 

Bars
Nola

Nola

107 Roman Road, London, E2 0QN

As the name suggests, this stylish bar is inspired by New Orleans, serving old faithfuls like a classic Hurricane or the retro Grasshopper. A fun atmosphere adds to NOLA’s appeal, as does the Cajun-spiced popcorn. 

Bars
Happiness Forgets

Happiness Forgets

8-9 Hoxton Square, London, London, N1 6NU

This small but mighty basement bar in Hoxton has won heaps of awards and plenty of critical praise. The reason why? Well, that would be the ever-evolving list of delicious cocktails and the superb service.

Bars
Swift

Swift

12 Old Compton Street, London, W1D 4TQ

This two-floor Soho bar (opposite La Bodega Negra) serves complex and unconventional cocktails, without any gimmicks or fuss. The moody basement is the hot ticket and is a shrewd choice for a first date too.

Bars
Laki Kane

Laki Kane

144-145 Upper Street, London, N1 1QY

Founded by a former Mahiki mixologist, this tropical bar is bags of fun. The rum-based sips are the best of the bunch, while sharing cocktails crowned with sparklers get the party started come the weekend.

Bars
Skylon (bar)

Skylon (bar)

Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, Waterloo, London, SE1 8XX

Overlooking the Thames, Skylon’s bar is a smart and sophisticated affair, often added to by pretty seasonal installations. It also helps that the restaurant is just across the room, should you feel peckish post cocktails.

Bars
Discount Suit Company

Discount Suit Company

29A Wentworth Street, London, E1 7TB

Great for pre-dinner drinks, we’re happy to report the cocktails at Discount Suit Company measure up nicely, serving the classics and sharing cocktails. Prices are pocket-friendly too, which is always a plus in London town.

Bars
Satan

Satan's Whiskers

343 Cambridge Heath Road, London, E2 9RA

The stuffed animals might be off-putting, but Satan’s Whiskers is a must visit. Come for the snacks which are split between ‘four fingers’ and ‘two fingers’, and stay for the fun twists on classic cocktails.

Bars
Milk & Honey

Milk & Honey

61 Poland Street, London, W1F 7NU

A members’ club that lets regular folk in if they make a reservation, Milk & Honey has proved enduringly popular (it first opened in 2002). Expertly mixed old-school sips such as Boulevardiers explain its success.

Bars
Three Sheets

Three Sheets

510b Kingsland Road, London, E8 4AE

This minimalist Dalston bar features a short cocktail list full of innovative ideas, which is refreshed every month to reflect the season. Tipples include an Almond Flower Sour, or a Cosmo made with fermented cranberry.

Bars
Lyaness at Sea Containers London

Lyaness at Sea Containers London

20 Upper Ground, South Bank, London, SE1 9PD

Only Ryan Chetiyawardana (AKA Mr Lyan) would close down a bar right after it was crowned the world’s best. In Dandelyan’s place comes Lyaness, which serves an epic ingredient-led cocktail menu and a boozy afternoon tea.

£30 - £49
British
Bars
Afternoon tea
Hide Below

Hide Below

85 Piccadilly, London, W1J 7NB

Found at the bottom of a glorious Gaudí-esque corkscrew staircase, Below is Hide restaurant’s cripplingly cool basement bar. Expect seasonal cocktails and an enviable wine selection from Hedonism Wines that is accessed through a walk-in cellar.

Bars
Nightjar

Nightjar

129 City Road, London, EC1V 1JB

A speakeasy hidden moments from Old Street roundabout, Nightjar has been wowing the Shoreditch crowds for a few years now with its off kilter creations. Live music inspired by the Jazz Age seals the deal.

Bars
Untitled

Untitled

538 Kingsland Road, London, E8 4AH

Whether you think it is pretentious or a masterpiece, Untitled is certainly a conversation starter. Curious, complex drinks are designed to taste how they sound (names include ‘Snow’) and are served alongside Japanese small plates.

Bars

Like your cocktails with a kick? Check out our pick of the best coffee cocktails in the capital.