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London’s Best Cocktail Bars

Where to go for a tipple or two

Looking for the city’s best cocktail spots? From the world’s finest martinis to a hidden bar with an unparalleled absinthe list, we’ve scoured the capital’s many watering holes to bring you the best cocktail bars in London. Whether you’re after a subterranean speakeasy, a glitzy hotel bar, a cool rooftop hangout or somewhere ultra-relaxed, there’s something for all types of drinker in our ultimate list.

The Best Cocktail Bars in London 2023

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Bar with lit shelves of alcohol.

Amaro Bar

Bearing the title of a modern neighbourhood bar, Amaro doesn’t shout about its brilliance – it lets you find out for yourself. A dizzying collection of bottles line the shelves behind the polished granite counter, and while you can ask the expert staff to pour you anything you fancy, you won’t want to miss out on this outstanding menu. Each drink showcases a specific fruit flavour achieved using a centrifuge to create perfectly clarified and magically translucent juices: the banana gimlet is striking precisely for its delicate flavour, and the kiwi margarita is similarly delightful. The star of the show, however, is the exceptional guava pisco sour, which contains juice from fresh white guavas as well as a clarified guava cordial. Led by The Savoy’s former head mixologist, Elon Soddu, this is a bar with fine craftsmanship at its centre – so pull up a seat and while away your evening indulging in some incredible cocktails.

15 Kensington High Street, London, W8 5NP. amarobar.co.uk

Swift Soho downstairs

Swift Soho

There’s been lots of hype around Swift Soho recently, particularly since it was named London’s best bar in the 2022 Top 50 Cocktail Bars list. Positioned near the Leicester Square end of Old Compton Street, it’s a dimly lit spot with warm glowing cylinder lamps hanging on the walls, leather booths and dark wood panelling. While all the classics are on offer, the newly launched Legends menu is the real piece-de-resistance. These tipples have been inspired by figures who have had an impact on drinking culture – from Oscar Wilde to Nigella and Snoop Dogg. Our top pick is Hemingway’s silky and rich ‘Eden’ cocktail. You could easily imagine this drink – which incorporates absinthe – being a firm favourite of the American author, who spent much of his time writing his novels while slumped at one end of a Parisian bar. Book ahead – on weekend evenings, it’s near-impossible to get a walk-in.

12 Old Compton St, London W1D 4TQ. barswift.com

Check out our full review here

The Blind Pig

Hidden behind a pig-shaped door knocker above Jason Atherton’s Social Eating House, The Blind Pig has a speakeasy feel. It’s always a buzzy spot, but there’s even more reason to go now thanks to a redesigned cocktail menu, which is themed around children’s literature and fairytales. Read through this nostalgic menu and pick your tipple from the selection of beautiful watercolour illustrations. Maybe it will be the Grandma Surprised (inspired by Little Red Riding Hood, of course), or the Hansel and Gretel Gingerbread Crush. Plus, they’re all paired with brilliant bar snacks.

58 Poland Street, Soho, London, W1F 7NR. socialeatinghouse.com

The Connaught London

The Connaught Bar

The glamorous bar within Mayfair hotel The Connaught is renowned for its faultless service and ceremoniously served martinis (quietly stirred, never shaken), prepared from a travelling trolley. If that’s not your bag, though, the new Impressions menu features interesting cocktails like the ‘Avant-Garde’, a tribute to the experimental spirit of the bar mixed with Konik’s Tail, raspberry vinegar, barberries and mulberries. The surroundings are equally chic, with textured walls in platinum silver leaf, a cool grey bar and David Collins-designed cubist decor. No surprise it has hosted an endless stream of A-listers and royals since its inception in 2008.

Connaught, Carlos Pl, London W1K 2AL. the-connaught.co.uk

Cocktail at Bruno's cocktail bar

Bruno’s

Brothers Fin and Lorcan Spiteri recently launched a new cocktail bar, housed in a newly renovated barge beside their floating restaurant, Caravel on Regent’s Canal. Named Bruno’s, the bar has a New York-inspired vibe and serve playful twists on classic cocktails, such as The Peach Drop, a blend of vodka, peach syrup and burnt sugar; and the Cookout, a smoky mix of mezcal and barbecued lemon juice. Alongside this, there is a selection of nostalgic snacks – a nod to the brothers’ childhoods.

172 Shepherdess Walk, London, N1 7JL. brunosbar.co.uk

Sheraton's new floral cocktails

The Palm Court Lounge at The Sheraton Grand London, Park Lane

For a laidback but still seriously swanky tipple, the Palm Court lounge is ideal. Situated in the centre of the very lovely Sheraton Grand Hotel, the lounge maintains and preserves opulent 1920s features of the hotel – art-deco stylings (from tapestries to amazing ceiling detailing) will transport you back in time to a bygone era of silent movies and flapper dresses.

The bar’s latest cocktail menu, too, will transport you even further back in time. A floral cocktail offering draws inspiration from the history of Green Park (opposite the hotel) and the unhappy marriage of a monarch who liked to pick flowers there. Rumour has it that King Charles II’s wife found out about a steamy affair, and ordered all the flowers from the opposing park to be removed – and to this day, Green Park is the only London park without planted flower beds.

Sheraton Grand London Park Lane is putting flowers back on the map here for the summer, and happy days that they have! This is a moreish and uber-fragrant collection of cocktails, including our favourite: Queen Catherine’s Revenge, based around marigolds and featuring yellow Absinthe, yellow chartreuse, apricot brandy finally finished off with homemade marigold honey syrup. Yum – revenge never tasted so good.

Piccadilly, Mayfair, London, England W1J 7BX. palmcourtlondon.co.uk

Eve Cocktail Bar in Covent Garden

Eve Bar, Covent Garden

Hidden away just off Covent Garden, entering this bar is like crossing into a naughty Garden of Eden: from the rising smell of incense as you descend the stairs to the light-up stained-glass windows (designed by Zombiedan) depicting the OG biblical couple.

The cocktails in Eve Bar are by no means sinful, though, but you may be tempted by one after another. Their new menu features an excellent array of choice (the menu is perused by alcohol base, be it grain or agave), and expert mixologists can prepare twists on the classics that will only whet your appetite. The Three Cherries Manhattan deserves special mention – this cocktail uses the cherry in, surprise-surprise, three ways: firstly the stone in the base whiskey, secondly its juices for flavouring, and finally as a garnish. Pair with delicious tasting snacks (prepared by chef Adam Handling, previously of the Fairmont). Absolute heaven.

34 Southampton St, London WC2E 7HF. evebar.co.uk

View of the interiors of the bar at Seed Library, which has stacks of Vinyl records and lowly lit lamps amongst wood shelving

Seed Library, Shoreditch

Come for the atmosphere, stay for the drinks. Saunter downstairs from an unsuspecting grey building in Shoreditch, where you’ll be met with what can best be described as the chic grotto for aesthetes, creatives, or anyone who has an appreciation for sultry but sophisticated atmospheres. Think stacked records in wood-clad shelving (with a live DJ in tow, obviously), think 70s mushroom lamps giving a lowly lit orangey haze, and elegantly curated abstract paintings and pots strewn around. This place is the ultimate hipster’s catnip. Sink into a low plush red cocooning armchair and order a whiskey sour (or if you’re feeling sweet, there’s plenty of options that feature elderflowers, blackberries, all the good stuff).

100 Shoreditch High St, London E1 6JQ. onehundredshoreditch.com

Cocktail from the American Bar at The Savoy

American Bar at The Savoy

Once bagging the title of ‘Best Bar in the World’, the Savoy’s American Bar has long been a go-to for London’s most refined drinkers. The 1930s-inspired bar combines flawless service with an energetic atmosphere and whispers of a bygone era. Take a perch at the bar to watch some of the world’s top bartenders expertly craft cocktails from the superlative menu unless, of course, you prefer something rather more bespoke, in which case they are always delighted to create something that perfectly matches your tastes.

The Savoy, Strand, London WC2R 0EU. fairmont.com

GONG, Shangri-La the Shard (cocktail bars in London)

GŎNG Bar at The Shard

Cocktails taste better with a view – particularly when the vantage point is from the top of London’s highest hotel bar. Perched on the 52nd floor of London’s Shangri-La Hotel, At The Shard, the ever-glamorous GŎNG offers unparalleled panoramas of the city skyline from all angles. The name derives from ‘dougong’, a traditional Chinese architectural element of interlocking wooden brackets, with Asian-inspired décor seen throughout. The star of the show, however, is the cocktail menu. The new Interlocking Cocktail Menu centres around flavours like yuzu, guava, mango, coconut, pineapple, raspberry and Thai basil, giving guests the chance to dive between sweet and punchy flavour combinations throughout the evening.

31 St Thomas St, London SE1 9QU. the-shard.com

Claridge's The Painter's Room (cocktail bars in London)

The Painter’s Room

The Painter’s Room at Claridge’s is an Art Deco dream. Created by interior designer Bryan O’Sullivan, the space is influenced by 1930s photos from the hotel archives, bedecked with pale pink onyx and featuring an eye-catching skylight in peach-and-cream-coloured glass. Guests can enjoy a new drinks menu inspired by the culture and art of Europe, divided into four chapters: Light, Interpretations, Complex and Clean. As well as innovative cocktails, a selection of small plates also feature on the menu (including crispy scampi and beetroot tartar), presented by waiters wearing traditional painters’ jackets in a shade of blue inspired by American photographer Bill Cunningham.

Brook Street, London W1K 4HR. claridges.co.uk

The Last Talisman (cocktail bars in London)

The Last Talisman

Located on Southwark’s bustling Bermondsey Street, The Last Talisman serves up eclectic cocktails and British-Asian cuisine. Founded by restaurateur Eric Yu, mixologist Dré Masso and culinary expert Tim Ross-Watson, the exciting new drink-and-dine destination boasts exotic, art-deco interiors featuring an array of compelling artworks (rotated every 90 days). Also situated within the drinking house is ‘Mala Madre’, a separate tropical-themed cocktail bar (with room for up to 70 guests) inspired by Masso’s time spent in Bali and his Colombian roots. Private party, anyone? Expect live DJ sets every week, plus an inviting brunch menu every weekend (11am-4pm) – bottomless cocktails also available. It’s all happening at The Last Talisman. 

171-173 Bermondsey St, London SE1 3UW. thelasttalisman.com

Amazonico (cocktail bars in London)

Amazónico’s Speakeasy

Mayfair restaurant Amazónico’s underground speakeasy – formerly a members’ only club – is now open to all, with emphasis placed on the bar’s specially-curated cocktail featuring rare spirits, first-class fizz, plus two exceptional cocktails served exclusively at the bar. Just as impressive as the drinks offering is in the interior, designed by artist Lázaro Rosa-Violan – think blue stucco walls, sequin columns, and a golden octopus suspended above the DJ booth. An ‘underwater’ hideaway at the heart of Mayfair? Count us in.

10 Berkeley Square, Mayfair, London W1J 6BR. amazonicorestaurant.com

The Sun Tavern

The Sun Tavern

A little rustic charm goes a long way with this quirky neighbourhood bar. Think deliciously eccentric cocktails – from the Rocket Pisco and Hard Cider Sherbet-infused ‘Farm Boy’ to the whiskey-based ‘Blunderbuss’ – craft beers, plenty of poitin, Irish coffee and of course, good vibes. Keep an eye out for upcoming DJ sets and live music.

441 Bethnal Green Rd, London E2 0AN. thesuntavern.co.uk

Waeska Bar

Waeska Bar at The Mandrake

It’s all about surrealism at Waeska Bar, found within the endlessly cool Mandrake Hotel in Fitzrovia. Since opening in 2017 it has become the go-to destination for London’s fashion elite, and it’s easy to see why. Named after a medicinal plant – as are all areas of the hotel – Waeska Bar is a beautifully bizarre mish-mash of patterns, colours and textures. Leather bar stools sit beside tropical-print armchairs and mirror-topped tables, while a flower-bedecked courtyard houses bamboo tables . The most striking aspect of all is the fantastical creature which leaps above the bar: a half-kangaroo, half-gazelle with scales made from harvested beetle wings, designed by renowned artist Enrique Gomez de Molina. Drinks are equally exotic, particularly since the launch of their new cocktail menu, which is rooted in ethnobotany: the study of a region’s plants and their practical uses through traditional knowledge of local cultures. The Sarsaparilla, for instance, is a twist on the classic Pina Colada, made using the root of the Sarsaparilla plant – which indigenous people in South America have been using to treat joint and skin problems for centuries. Another cocktail on the menu, meanwhile, is mixed with native Indian plant vetiver, said to have anti-anxiety abilities.

20-21 Newman St, Fitzrovia, London W1T 1PG. themandrake.com

Discount Suit Company

Discount Suit Company

This compellingly covert cocktail bar is not one you might think to come across when trawling the streets of Spitalfields. The sophisticated speakeasy – once a suit tailor’s store room – is in fact concealed behind an unmarked black door; an exclusive establishment serving up an array of tasty alternative cocktails, from the whisky and sherry-suffused ‘Cockney Touch’ to the ‘Whipping Boy’ which features Ocho Blanco Tequila and Lillet Rose.

29A Wentworth St, Spitalfields, London E1 7TB. discountsuitcompany.co.uk

Plastic Free Bars: Dukes Hotel, Mayfair

Dukes Bar

Infinitely elegant and hidden away in St James’, the bar at The Dukes Hotel is renowned for serving the best martinis in town – even the world, some would argue. Such an accolade is merited by Alessandro Palazzi, the Dukes Bar manager who uses a combination of the best ingredients from around the world to perfect his cocktails, even importing Amalfi lemons from his native Italy to add an irresistible spritz of bitter zest to the renowned Vesper Martini. As Sir Ian Fleming’s favourite watering hole, and where he apparently coined the phrase ‘shaken, not stirred’, there is still a big dose of old-school James Bond glamour about the place – from the antique silver drinks trolley where each cocktail is prepared, to the cognac and cigar garden where guests can retire afterwards.

35 St. James’s Place, London SW1A 1NY. dukeshotel.com

Laki Kane, Islington

Laki Kane

Take your date to the tropics without stepping foot on a plane – just venture to Islington, to Laki Kane. Everything from the interior design to the drinks is designed to make the cocktail bar a realistic escape to a tropical island, whilst sitting on Islington’s Upper Street.

144-145 Upper Street, London N1 1QY. lakikane.com

Lyaness

Lyaness

Autumn 2019 was a bittersweet month for Sea Containers London’s Dandelyan. Ryan Chetiyawardana’s famed bar was voted number one in the World’s 50 Best Bars awards, but just a couple of months after announced it was closing its doors. In 2021, however, the bar re-opened as Lyaness – still under the ownership of cocktail guru Chetiyawardana, also known as Mr Lyan. Lyaness has a slightly different vibe to Dandelyan, but the aesthetics are equally pretty. Powder blue and grey shades replace millennial pinks, and the green marble bar remains, alongside brass tables and plush velvet sofas. The drinks menu remains every bit as innovative as Dandelyan’s, sectioned around ingredients rather than cocktails. There are seven specialist ingredients, from Infinite Banana to Tat-tie Milk Punch, each of which is used to create a trio of exciting and unique cocktails. Can’t decide? Use the dedicated drinks map, a guide to taste (light vs rich) and suggested drinking times (daytime to late evening) – clever or what?

20 Upper Ground, South Bank, London SE1 9PD. lyaness.com

oriole3

Oriole

Priding itself on providing an escape from the outside world, Oriole is an underground cocktail bar serving intricate drinks and rare spirits in a plush and flamboyant space. A far cry from the other business-like watering holes of Farringdon, Oriole offers creative respite from the mundanities of everyday life in the city – much aided by a fascinating cocktail menu that it’s a pleasure to drink your way through. The cocktails explore the Old World, New World and the Orient, beautifully presented in a series of unique vessels with specially-created garnishes. A real experience.

East Poultry Avenue, Smithfield Markets, London EC1A 9LH. oriolebar.com

The Gore Hotel Bar 190

Bar 190 at The Gore

It may not seem like it from the row of stuccoed white South Kensington townhouses which The Gore finds itself among, but hotel’s bar is one of the most rock ‘n’ roll spots in town. Bar 190 was the location for The Rolling Stones’ Beggars Banquet album launch and photoshoot – and the bar has rolled with this theme ever since. All original wooden panelling, lavish upholstery, deep velvets and aged leather armchairs, there’s a real sense of occasion that comes with your Negroni, even more so if you bag the plush ‘Cinderella’s Carriage’ hideaway at the back of the bar.

190 Queen’s Gate, Kensington, London SW7 5EX. starhotelscollezione.com

Clarendon Cocktail Cellar

Clarendon Cocktail Cellar

Dubbed Pimlico’s hidden boozer, the building that Clarendon Cocktail Cellar calls home has been the destination of choice for a stiff drink since 1852. Now, as well as drawing those who are after delicious tipples, film buffs are queuing up to sample cocktails named after some of the best films in cinematic history. Choose from titles such as Driving Miss Daisy, Airplane and Slumdog Millionaire, each a sensory experience of its namesake in a drink. The moody lighting and eclectic art – from the Lawrence Alkin gallery in Soho, which changes every month – adds to the rustic, cosy ambiance. Nibble on rosemary fries, padron peppers and crispy squid while enjoying an aperitif, before heading upstairs to Cambridge Street Kitchen for a good burger or melt-in-mouth steak.

52 Cambridge Street, London SW1V 4QQ. clarendoncocktailcellar.co.uk

Untitled Bar

Untitled

Tucked away in Dalston, Untitled is a wonderfully minimalist restaurant and bar with an innovative drinks list created by none other than Tony Conigliaro. When the Japanese food and cocktails are this good, you really don’t need much else – hence the pared-down aesthetic. A concise cocktail list contains such mysteries as ‘Violin’ and ‘Concrete’ which with ingredients such as soft chalk, white clay, enoki vodka and benzoin don’t give much away. Our advice? Best to just go with it – this is a group of mixologists that really know what they’re doing.

538 Kingsland Road, London E8 4AH. untitled-bar.com

Mark's Club

Mark’s Club

With modern interiors by Paris-based Tino Zervudachi and original William Morris wallpaper, Mark’s Club seamlessly combines old and new world. The club’s new director (ex-Chiltern Firehouse) has beautifully refreshed the classic bar, bringing with him a younger wave of members, innovative cocktails and a penchant for cigars, which unite to define the new generation of Mark’s Club members –  while of course maintaining the elegant and traditional aspects which have long made it such a success. If you manage to get a much-coveted membership, the intimate bar is the perfect base for exploring the ever-changing and enticing cocktail menu.

46 Charles St, Mayfair, London W1J 5EJ. marksclub.co.uk

Scarfes Bar

Scarfes Bar at Rosewood London

Rosewood London’s bar is named after one of Britain’s great cartoon satirists, Gerald Scarfe, and his influence can be felt throughout – from his framed cartoons which cover the walls, to the cocktail menu which he personally illustrated. Drinks range from the classic to the creative, sometimes verging on wacky, but always maintaining the element of sophistication which so defines the venue. The kind of place where you can while away a worrying amount of time as you sink into the leather armchairs.

This year, Scarfes celebrates its 10 year anniversary with a special menu. This is split into a selection of ‘Greatest Hits’ – guest favourites from the past decade – alongside 10 new creations, curated by Area Director of Bars Martin Siska, Head of Mixology Yann Bouvignies and their team.

Rosewood London, 252 High Holborn, London WC1V 7EN. scarfesbar.com

Best plastic free bars: Nightjar, Old Street

Nightjar

Cocktails and live jazz combined have to be one of life’s greatest pleasures – and Nightjar excels at both. The small, speakeasy-style cocktail bar oozes 1920s glamour (yet is somehow still cosy), but is brought into the modern day with its innovative cocktail garnishes and often unusual ingredients that are the perfect refreshment in what is considered one of the best jazz bars in London.

129 City Rd, Hoxton, London EC1V 1JB. barnightjar.com

Bar Americain Brasserie Zedel

Bar Américain at Brasserie Zédel

It’s an absolute delight to sip classic American cocktails in the Art Deco surroundings of Bar Américain, located downstairs at London landmark Brasserie Zédel. The perfect place for an apéritif before indulging on the restaurant’s French classics, but equally as fabulous after hours for post-dinner drinks with friends before making your way into the sparkly Soho night.

20 Sherwood St, Soho, London W1F 7ED. brasseriezedel.com

THe Last Tuesday Society

The Last Tuesday Society

Dubbed ‘the World’s Most Curious Cocktail Bar’, this is a London drinking spot like no other. Hidden within the Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities, the bar is filled with an eclectic mix of bizarre objects, artefacts and frankly unclassifiable treasures as well as a clientele as interesting as you’d expect from such a place. Nothing about this bar is normal, and this extends to the cocktails which feature rare and prohibited alcohols from around the world. There is, naturally, a weekly celebration of absinthe, the spirit ‘so notoriously favoured by the rebellious minds of art and literature’. There’s no telling where the so-called ‘Green Goddess’ (as named by Aleister Crowley, no less) will take you…

11 Mare Street, London E8 4RP. thelasttuesdaysociety.org

Featured image: The Connaught Bar