Whether you’re just visiting London or you live here, like we do, you’ll surely find this list of the best cocktails in London useful. Guest writer, Julianna Barnaby, introduces us to where to find great cocktails in London in her list, below. Cheers!
London has no shortage of cocktail bars – the city is a hive of cool places to drink, serving up delicious drinks. From stately bars in prestigious hotels to hidden speakeasies – these are the places to find London’s best cocktails.
Looking for more information about London to make your planning easier? Check out these resources:
- Visit London’s top sights on a one-day walking tour
- Find a unique dining experience, top international restaurants and the best cocktails and rooftop bars in London
- See what to do, where to stay, and where to eat in London in this Essential travel guide to London
- Paris is only a short train ride away. Check out these fun foodie things to do in Paris.
When you descend into Night Jar’s dark and lavish bar under the streets of East London, you’ll disappear into another world, complete with creative and classic cocktails, reinvented and inspired, always happily served by a great staff.
Sometimes you’re lucky and there’s live music playing. Then the atmosphere becomes charged with energy and it feels like you’ve found something unique and special on this side of London.
Be careful with your ordering, however, as the cocktails are quite expensive and it can quickly become a very expensive night. Make reservations before heading out there!
Cocktail Trading Company
We found this bar on our first day in London, since it was just a few steps from our flat. It just took ordering one cocktail to know it was our new favorite bar in London. The cocktails are super creative in a fun and carefree way.
The menu changes frequently and so does the barware. You never know how you’ll receive your drink. You might think they do this as a gimmick to make up for bad cocktails, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Location: 68 Bethnal Green Rd, Shoreditch
Mr. Fogg’s Gin Parlour
There are more than one Mr. Fogg’s throughout the city. There’s Mr. Fogg’s Gin Parlour, House of Botanicals, Society of Exploration, and Tavern. Each location has a different atmosphere and charm. Mr. Fogg’s Gin Parlour is my favorite, but the others are just as fun.
The lounge is spread out over a couple of floors and you have to wait for your specified time to get in, reminiscent of a speakeasy, and once you’re inside the decor and atmophere is on point. There are pages and pages of cocktails and gins to try with different botanicals, along with afternoon tea and special menus.
Location: 1 New Row, Leicester Square
The London Gin Club
Our favorite gin bar to take out-of-town guests to is The London Gin Club. It’s located right in the middle of Soho. And it has the perfect atmosphere for a London gin bar. Their gin list is extensive and you can also choose your tonic and garnish. They also have really good steak and ale pie to go along with it.
You’ll want to make reservations as the place is quite small.
Location: 22 Great Chapel St, Soho
Set on the former premises of The Pinstripe Club, Disrepute is one of the most glamorous places to drink in Soho. Plush armchairs, jewel colours and gilt touches set the scene of a member’s club straight from the Mad Men era, to the point where you wouldn’t raise an eyebrow if Don Draper himself sidled out from one of the discreet booths.
But you’re not here for the decor. Disrepute’s innovative cocktail menu is filled with drinkable delights – even so the Feline Fugitive stands out. A heady concoction of Beefeater Gin, teapot bitters, mint, lime and Moet and Chandon, it’s the toast of the town.
Pleasantly dry and zingy, the botanicals of the gin and aromatic bitters lend a complex flavour that pairs nicely with the Champagne. You’ll be hard-pushed to resist a second.
Location: 4 Kingly Ct, Carnaby, London W1B 5PW
Oriole’s older sister Nightjar has long had a reputation for making some of the best cocktails in London, but Oriole is hot on its heels. Pairing speakeasy vibes with fin-de-siecle chic and live music every evening, this is a bar that takes its job very seriously… including serving up some rather impressive cocktails.
Like all of Oriole’s cocktails, the Black Rock Martini is meant to evoke and reflect the flavours of a particular place – in this case the Scottish island of Islay. It’s made with Botanist Gin and Bruichladdich Scotch, both of which are produced on the island, and complemented by charred juniper infusion, peated Noilly Prat and Atholl Brose.
It’s lighter and fresher than it sounds, each sip leading you on a sensory journey of the island, albeit from the comfort of your warm booth and without the wind or rain.
Location: E Poultry Ave, Farringdon, London EC1A 9LH
Swift is one of the best cocktail bars in London. It’s run by a pair who also own two other great cocktail bars, Nightjar in Old Street and Oriole in Clerkenwell. There are two locations, one in Soho and one in Shoreditch.
In Soho, there are two distinctly different bars here – the Upstairs Bar and the lounge downstairs. Upstairs is a small casual place for a happy hour cocktail and nibbles. Downstairs is a Whiskey bar. The must try here is their signature Irish Coffee.
Location: 12 Old Compton St, Soho & 93 Great Eastern Street, London EC2A 3HZ
Shoreditch’s bar scene is popping, to the point where crippling indecision can set in when it comes to deciding the spot for your next drink (that’s one #firstworldproblem right there). Tucked behind a unassuming doorway and down a flight of stairs on a quiet street, Found has all the makings of your new favourite place… busy enough that it doesn’t feel like a tumbleweed but quiet enough that they can focus on turning out the best-quality cocktails without fail.
In a world where we’ve all had so many variations on a spicy margarita, it can feel like it’s impossible to do anything new with a chilli and lime-based cocktail… that is until you taste Heaven & Hell at Found.
The cachaca base is rounded off with framboise, lime, jalapeno agave syrup and raspberry for a cocktail that’s both naughty and nice, smooth and sharp, with a sting in its tail that more than lives up to its name.
Location: 5 Ravey St, Hackney, London EC2A 4QW
One of the most atmospheric cocktail bars you’ll find in London is The Gibson on Old Street. If you’re looking for a speakeasy type bar that transports you back in time, this is the place.
You can expect a menu full of very inventive and creative cocktails. Even though the Gibson itself is a classic cocktail, the other cocktails on the menu are built around a magical calendar that transports you to different seasons in different eras.
You can also expect for your drink to be served in quite a unique way. They are quite expensive, but definitely it.
Location: 44 Old St, London EC1V 9AQ
What do you do when you are the world’s most awarded bartender, in charge of a bar that frequently tops the lists of best cocktail bars in the world? You close the bar of course, and start from scratch with a new one in the same location. That’s exactly what mixology maestro and Ryan Chetiyawardana has done with Lyaness.
Set in what used to be Dandelyan in Sea Containers, Lyaness brings something different to the table – but the cocktails are just as brilliant. To be honest, there are a few contenders for the title of the best cocktail in London on the Lyaness menu, but, for me, the Rosa Daiquiri pips the others to the post.
Like all Lyaness cocktails, the drink is based around a particular in-house invention – in this case Onyx, the description of which is very complex and detailed but seems to boil down to bitter and rich with a hint of sweetness. Add Grey Goose, Trois Rivieres, Cocchi Rosa and lime and you have a light cocktail that never fails to deliver.
Location: 20 Upper Ground, South Bank, London SE1 9PD
Rules has been a steady feature on London’s wining and dining scene since 1798. That’s over two centuries more practice at serving the very best food and drink than most other places in the city. Unsurprisingly, they excel at both. The downstairs restaurant is still one of the best places for traditional British food in the city.
For cocktails, however, you need to head upstairs to a space where King Edward VII once entertained his mistress Lily Langtree, and where Rules will entertain you by making you some rather excellent cocktails. Opt for the Naughty Mac, a new addition on their recently-expanded menu.
A combination of Famous Grouse, The King’s Ginger Liqueur and Habanero Hellfire Bitters – it displays the lightness of touch that head bartender Brian Silva has become famous for over the years.
Location: 34-35 Maiden Ln, Covent Garden, London WC2E 7LB
Frenchie is first and foremost a restaurant, but it also happens to serve some quite exceptional cocktails with ingredients you’ll be hard pushed to find elsewhere in London.
Perhaps it’s owner Gregory Marchand’s deft way with flavour (the reason that his Paris restaurant has been awarded a Michelin star and his London outpost has firmly-established itself as one of the city’s best high-end restaurants) – whatever it is, drinking at Frenchie is a delight.
The Late Harvest does away with the acidity and harshness of many a cocktail, instead bathing the palate in mellow notes that give you a good idea of how it came by its name. Featuring Bonpland Rum Rouge, Sauternes Rousset- Peyraguey 2010, Boudier Rhubarb Liqueur and rhubarb bitters – the resulting cocktail is fruity and light but not sweet – but ever so drinkable.
Location: 16 Henrietta St, Covent Garden, London WC2E 8QH
With so many great cocktails and cocktail bars in London, the choice is tough, but we’re sure you’ll love each of these cocktails, no matter which one you choose. What’s your favorite cocktail in London?
Where to Stay in London
There are many different parts of London, and each has a different feel to it. The best location for tourists is near Covent Garden, because it’s so convenient to the typical tourist attractions of the city.
Soho is also a great location if you want to be in the heart of the action, near tons of great restaurants and bars. Here are our recommended places to stay in London:
- Marriott County Hall: Great value for the price. Nice affordable luxury hotel in a great location » Read reviews on Trip Advisor or check prices on Expedia
- Clermont London Charing Cross: If you’re planning your time seeing the main tourist sights in London, this is the perfect location » Read reviews on Trip Advisor or check prices on Expedia
- The Resident Covent Garden: Covent Garden is one of the most fun neighborhoods in London for visitors. This hotel is prime location, and really nice » Read reviews on Trip Advisor or check prices on Expedia
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Julianna Barnaby blogs about London and travel on her site The Discoveries Of. A born and bred Londoner, she loves helping people to discover the cool places and quirky spots in London that don’t make it to the guidebooks.
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