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.
45 Essex Road, London, N1 2SF
Totally ghetto fabulous, this ’hood within a ’hood mixes a big glug of Latin spirit with a powerful shot of la musica, shakes it and pours out a party almost every night. In true barrio style the
bar is decked out with recycled bounty, right down to the 1976 Ace caravan rescued from eBay and parked in the middle of the room. Drinking is serious fun here, and an extensive list of exotic
liquids is divided by region, taking your taste buds on a journey around the world. Travel to South America via a Guyana-inspired rum and raisin swizzle (Eldorado rum, berries, lychees and rose
petals), a Quilmes beer from Argentina or a Brazilian Abelha Silver cachaça. The musical menu encompasses funk, soul, rock and roll, hip-hop, 1980s’ pop, reggae, jazz and blues; the young staff
sport dazzling smiles; and there are chips and dips and pinchos to eat.
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69 Colebrooke Row, London, N1 8AA
Tony Conigliaro’s cocktail bar opened up at 69 Colebrooke Row with the moniker ‘the bar with no name’, which might be a case of trying too hard by seemingly not trying at all. Whatever you call the place, Tony C has made it a destination for fans of classic cocktails and those seeking the cutting edge of this most un-dark of arts. You’ll find a classic 1950s vibe going down at this dinky backstreet spot. The Bellini is reinvented here with raspberry and violet purée replacing the standard peach, and the Prairie Oyster gets a kick with the addition of horseradish vodka. If you prefer a classic cocktail undisturbed by contemporary configuration, the bar staff are happy to oblige. There’s food, too, with little snacky options such as ceviche and a beefy pumpernickel sandwich. Masterclasses are up for grabs if you’re looking for a new life skill.
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8-9 Hoxton Square, London, N1 6NU
Regularly acclaimed by critics the world over, this wee dive bar has won more awards than we care to count: in 2016, it even scooped 'Best International Cocktail Bar' at America's prestigious Tales of the Cocktail bash. No bad for a prosaic, no-frills, "low-rent basement" (owner Andy Bird's description). This is no achingly cool 'concept', no big-budget design team's take on a Prohibition speakeasy, 1970s disco or any other corny theme you care to mention; there’s no pretentious molecular malarkey either: what Happiness has in spades, is heart and soul. It also has a team of chipper, capable staff who are keen to craft old-school favourites and gratifying new stirs to order: try Dirty Sanchez (a tropical cobbler involving Havana Selección rum, crème de banane, port, Manzanilla sherry and pineapple juice). Like the Burt Bacharach song by Dionne Warwick that inspired the bar’s handle, this seemingly effortless number oozes class and sophistication.
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112 Upper Street, London, N1 1QN
LA comes to Upper Street at Slim Jim’s, with neon lights and rock and roll to set the mood, and beer and whiskey to smooth the way.
A dive bar vibe is recreated by music posters,
red leather bar stools and booths, while a jukebox and live DJs ensure the joint is jumping. Bottles of American beer (such as the Boston-brewed Samuel Adams) and draught Camden Hells USA, also help maintain the north London-American mash-up, and lovers of the grain have a stellar choice of Scotch, bourbon and Irish whiskies. Classic cocktails run to a straight-up Martini and Mojito; alternatively, how about a Pickleback (one shot of whiskey followed by a shot of pickle juice)? If you’re in need of a sustaining bite to eat, investigate the choice of classic and contemporary pizzas.
More detail about Slim Jim's Liquor Store