I was having a chat with someone this week who uttered the words “there aren’t that many decent cocktail bars in London”. What madness is this? There are many! So here, in no particular order, are 50 fabulous establishments for your cocktail supping:
1. Bluebird, Kings Road is great for dining and the cocktail bar is ravishing.
2. Bourne & Hollingsworth, Rathbone Place. A tiny 30s bar hidden away (look for the stairs by the black and white poster). Very handsome bar staff too.
3. Dirty Martini, The Piazza in Covent Garden. Get here early for their 2-4-1 deals. Make sure you get the chocolate martini. But if it’s busy and you’re thirsty, go elsewhere.
4. Trader Vics, Park Lane. Come here for the famed Mai Tai.
5. The National Portrait Bar, Leicester Square. The best mimosa in town. Fabulous view as well.
6. Trailer Happiness, Notting Hill. Fun and silly, which is what cocktails should be, don’t you think?
7. Fluid, Charterhouse Street. Cocktails AND old arcade games? Yes please!
8. Cubana, Waterloo. Sure it’s a bit of a dive, but the mojitos are wonderful.
9. Gardening Club, Covent Garden. Excellent cocktails if you get here for Happy Hour. Arrive early, and then get out quickly, once this place fills up it’s not nearly as enjoyable.
11. Dollar Bar, Exmouth Market. Ever had a Porn Star Martini? Passion fruit and vodka in a Martini glass, with a shot of champagne on the side. Yum!
13. Shochu, Charlotte Street. Hidden away and serving unique (if expensive) cocktails using the Japanese spirit Shochu.
14. BFI, Southbank. Wonderful Margaritas. Better when it’s quite though, which is pretty rare.
15. Idlewild, Maida Vale. Gorgeous design, and one of the best kept secrets of North West London.
16. Garlic and Shots, Soho. Well it’s great – if you like garlic and you’re not planning on kissing anyone.
17. Charlotte Street Hotel, Fitzrovia. Great in summer, if you’re lucky enough to get a table outside. Don’t move if you do. And go for the Dark ‘n’ Stormy.
18. Match, Margret Street. Nifty little spot, never too busy. Fabulous cocktails, but go with a group, it can be a bit soulless.
15. 5th View, Waterstones Piccadilly. Great top floor restaurant/bar, although not as nice as it once was.
16. Beach Blanket Babylon, Notting Hill. Stunning design and much classier than the East End version.
17. Beach Blanket Babylon, Shoreditch. But that’s not to say the East End branch isn’t fun too…
18. Guanabara, Covent Garden. Fabulous cocktails and bargain 2-4-1 deals.
19. The Hospital Club, Covent Garden. If you can get in, the martinis are a treat. So are the little shots that waiters pass around the bar.
20. Lab, Soho. So many cocktails! You’ll need a year (and a strong liver) to go through them all. Try something new.
21. Zensai, Camden. There aren’t many cocktail bars in Camden, but this one is really very good.
22. Crazy Bear, Fitzrovia. Fab members bar. Pop in early to get a table.
23. Soho Hotel, Soho. Fabulous mojitos. Expect to pay over a tenner though. Ouch.
24. Titos, London Bridge Street. More of a restaurant, but we hear they do the best Pisco sours in town.
25. Eagle Bar and Diner, Fitzrovia. A strange choice, but excellent cocktails. Even if you wouldn’t choose to stay here all night.
26. Sketch, Mayfair. Worth a trip for the egg-shaped toilets alone.
27. 69 Colbrooke Row, Angel. If you can get past the service, this place whips up an darn good tipple.
28. Be at One, Soho. It’s a pub turned bar, so it’s got a very friendly vibe.
29. Bob Bob Ricard, Soho. If you can get into the bar, the cocktails are great (if a tad expensive). Otherwise just sit at the tables pressing the champagne trolley buttons.
30. The Courthouse, Soho. Want to drink cocktails in a prison cell? Then come here.
31. Milk & Honey, Soho. Looking for a more exclusive drink? Then come to Mlik & Honey, but before 11 if you’re not a member.
32. Bar Chocolate, Soho. Rather predictably, they do very good chocolate cocktails.
33. Shoreditch House, Shoreditch. Very swanky members’ club. Very swanky drinks.
34. Lost Society, Clapham. A wonderful little bar, that even has Angel Delight on the menu.
35. The Hawksmoor, Shoreditch. Not just for yummy steak, they can shake a decent tipple as well.
36. Callooh Callay, Shoreditch. This place is relatively new, but it fits in rather snugly with its trendy Shoreditch neighbours.
37. Favela Chic, Old Street. Want to feel like you’re drinking in a favela? Then erm… come here.
38. South London Pacific, Kennington. Quite far out of town, but worth it if you’re a fan of all things Tiki.
39. Freedom, Soho. This is a great little gay/mixed bar. Awesome cocktails and a giant disco ball above the dancefloor.
40. Sugar Cane, Clapham. Who wouldn’t want to drink in a Tiki hut? In Clapham.
41. Anam, Angel. Great cocktails, stunning decor.
42. Green and Red, Bethnal Green. Fantastic mojitos.
44. Volupte, Holborn. Fab cocktails and a burlesque show to boot.
45. The Clifton, St Johns Wood. OK, so this is actually a pub, but it serves the best G&T in London so deserves and honourable mention, surely?
46. Tart, Charterhouse Street. Great little bar, but only open for private parties on Saturday, so double check the times.
47. Inc Bar, Greenwich. Designed by Lawrence Llewelyn Bowen, this is a snazzy place. And one of the only bars to open late in the area.
48. Hakkasan, right by Tottenham Court Road, yet so wonderfully tucked away, you’d think you were in another part of the world.
49. Bar 55, Camden. Not the most classy of joints, but great cocktails.
50. Freud, Shaftesbury Avenue. Great little bar and gallery, but the cocktail list is enormous! Worth the trip if you can afford to try lots of new things.
Is your favourite on the list? Any we’ve missed out? Share your best bars in the comments!