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.
18-22 Vanston Place, London, SW6 1AX
‘What a place!' declares one reader who popped in to buy a quick bottle of wine, but ended up browsing and sipping at Vagabond for two hours. In fact, praise for this ‘superior' wine shop-cum-bar
never falters, with another delighted customer declaring it the ‘cheapest place to drink wine and relax in Fulham Broadway'. The concept is simple – top up an Oyster-style card with credit, and
glug your way around the 100-bin, wall-to-wall racks (all stored under airtight Enomatic conditions). Everything up to a 2000 St Emilion Grand Cru is available to sample, with tasters starting at
50p and 125ml glasses from £3.50. Staff are ‘incredibly well-educated' and ‘know their wines inside out', while cheese and charcuterie boards are available to soak up the vino.
More about Vagabond Wines
138 Fulham Road, London, SW10 9PY
Fulham Road regulars seem to have a soft spot for Swedish-born Fredrik Olsson’s bijou bar & club, extolling the virtues of its ever-so-cute staff, perfect watermelon martinis & homemade
popcorn. Simple black banquettes & moody lighting set the tone, & the likes of a Chivas crush (Chivas Regal 12 Year Old with crushed mint leaves, apple, lemon juice & ginger beer) won’t
break the bank. Meanwhile, a pithy menu of Asian food offers up passable dim sum – gyoza pork dumplings or tempura vegetables, for instance. If you’re planning to drop in for a pre-club warm-up,
the upstairs bar comes to life at the weekend; alternatively, head downstairs to the petite dance floor & burn off the booze with a smooth mix of Motown, hip-hop, dance & R&B.
More about Kosmopol
Evans & Peel
310c Earls Court Road, London, SW5 9BA
‘Specialists in blackmail, missing persons and armed personal protection’, fantasy detectives Evans & Peel use this discreet agency front to keep their cocktail bar clandestine. Patrons must make an appointment and present their ‘case’ in the office on arrival, before a sleuth in period costume decides if they’re to be allowed into the atmospheric speakeasy that hides behind the bookshelf. This kind of role play isn’t to everyone’s taste, but we’d challenge anyone to say a bad word about the agency’s inventive take on classic drinks. Our current favourites are the Clover Breakfast Club (Hendrick's gin, English breakfast tea, raspberry jam, lime, cucumber, clarified milk and Teapot bitters) and the Islayllujah, which sees Bulleit bourbon and 16-year-old Lagavulin whisky stirred with bitters, salt and yuzu essence in a twist on the Sazerac theme. There are decent bar snacks too – try the Dr Pepper pulled beef in waffles.
More about Evans & Peel
The Jam Tree
£30 - £49
541 Kings Road, London, SW6 2EB
Like its Clapham sibling, this Jam Tree has quickly taken root in its chosen neighbourhood. Technically it’s in Fulham, but the Made in Chelsea set is happy to slum it on the wrong side of the tracks for jam-flavoured cocktail jars such as Damson in a Dress or Jammy Dodger (served hot). Numerous takes on Bloody Mary and the bar’s ‘cowboy breakfast’ help habitual hangovers, while the sun-trap beer garden (complete with alfresco bar and hog-roast BBQs) is perfect for sipping Chardonnay in summer or bundling up warm, with a beer, some bowl food and mains on a colonial theme. Say ‘yah’ to Singapore laksa, shahi paneer, curried goat with rice and peas or vegetable rangdang, as well as old-school English pies and puds. Still, a 2am licence at weekends means this is primarily a serious boozing joint.
More about The Jam Tree