In the mood to meet up with your pals for a cocktail or two? We’ve rounded up some of the best cocktail bars in London to book this summer.
London is open once more. To properly say “cheers!” to the end of restrictions, you might be looking to book a table at one of the capital’s fun cocktail bars. Whether you want to try out this summer’s biggest cocktail (the paloma, of course), or stay refreshed with a delicious mocktail, there are so many venues ready to show off their creative menus.
Sipping on a cocktail while having a long-overdue natter with a friend you haven’t seen for over a year sounds like the perfect summer weekend plan (friendly reminder: always drink alcohol responsibly and stay hydrated).
If you’re struggling to decide where to book, we’ve done the hard part and rounded up some of the best cocktail bars in London for you to choose from.
Best cocktail bars in London for 2021
Located in the heart of Soho’s Chinatown, Opium is a dramatic and sophisticated 1920s Shanghai-themed cocktail bar and dim sum parlour. Split across two floors, there are actually three oriental-themed bars with different vibes and menus: Academy Bar, Apothecary Bar and Peony Bar. There is also a cocktail club and you can book cocktail masterclasses.
The incredible menu features Chasing The Dragon (brandy, kumquat, chilli, bitters, pineapple, cardamom, quinine and salt) and Cloud of Pearls (vodka, jackfruit, lemonbalm, yuzu, goji and hibiscus 13).
Run by Sergio and Anna (and their little one, Cleo!), Funkidory is an independent cocktail bar in Peckham. Inside the friendly and intimate lounge, expect to chill out with a carefully curated playlist of funk, hip hop and soul music.
The bar, which was recently refurbished, boasts a brilliant range of drinks that include local brands like Gosnells mead and Kanpai sake.
The cocktail menu includes the Rye Lane (rye whiskey, dry vermouth, fennel seeds syrup and giarraffa olive brine) and the Persian Daiquiri (Cuban-style rum, saffron liqueur, rose petal cordial).
The Blind Pig
Hidden above The Social Eating House in Soho, you will discover the The Blind Pig, an award-winning bar with a relaxed, speakeasy vibe. The menu features creative and technical cocktails inspired by fictional lands everywhere, giving you the chance to travel through Springfield to Atlantis and Far Far Away to Wonderland.
Try the Lost Martini of Atlantis (cucumber gin, kombu vermouth, sesame, house brine and elderflower) or the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party Manhattan (tea-infused bourbon and rye, sweet vermouths, peach and Peychaud’s bitters – served with cake).
NBHD (or Neighbourhood Portobello) is the latest buzzy cocktail bar and restaurant to land on Ladbroke Grove.
A mere stone’s throw away from Notting Hill’s trendy Portobello Road, the new South American inspired dining and drinking concept is brought to you by an all-star team of alumni from some of the most iconic London venues, including Soho House and Bodega Negra, so it’s likely to be on the hit list of foodie and cocktail enthusiasts all over the Capital.
The cocktail menu boasts an impressive array of exotic cocktails to sip on as the sun goes down over West London, including the Balsazar Rose Spritz and the Strawberry & Jalapeno Margarita.
Named after Joséphine de Beauharnais, Tonight Josephine embodies the empress’s “well-behaved women don’t make history” mantra. There are two neon-lit venues, in Waterloo and Shoreditch, where you can enjoy themed brunches, afternoon tea and burlesque balls (Britney Brunch, anybody?).
The cocktail menu includes the Neverland (Midori melon liqueur, Lillet Blanc, citrus and passion fruit) and the Rhubarb and Custard (Absolut vodka, strawberry and rhubarb blend, egg white and vanilla, topped with soda).
Little Nan's Bar
Little Nan’s Bar is Deptford’s kitsch and cool cocktail go-to. The owner opened the bar in honour of their late nan, with a mission to spoil guests with a nostalgic homely environment where friends and local residents can spend time meeting the amazing community of Deptford. Expect leopard print walls, photographs of Pat Butcher and 70s lampshades.
The teapot cocktails are legendary, with flavours including the Lady Bet Lynch (London gin, elderflower, fresh lime and prosecco) and the Sexy Frank Butcher (Scotch whiskey, fresh ginger, lime juice, ginger beer).
Mrs Riot is Covent Garden’s new ode to Kitty Clive, a pioneering feminist who transformed the London scene in the 1700s. This bistro and cocktail bar offers live entertainment every day of the week, such as drag queen brunches, jazz music and Latin music. And just look at how Instagram feed-friendly the decor is. The avant-garde interiors were designed by award-winning Hollywood film designer Sonja Klaus.
The cocktail menu boasts signature mixes including The White Geisha (Haku vodka, Kazuko bitter blossom, yuzu, and peach and jasmine tonic) and The Great Garrick (cucumber, Tapatio tequila, Green Chartreuse, Italicus, and elderflower caviar).
The Last Tuesday Society
Looking for something a bit different? The Last Tuesday Society on Mare Street in Hackney is certainly that. The bar is also an absinthe parlour and home to an obscure museum of weird and wonderful things that you can peruse while waiting for your drink to be served.
Taking inspiration from London’s 18th century apothecaries, the menu includes the Amoro Amore (house Amaro blend, coffee liqueur, Devil’s Botany London absinthe, Roasting Shed coffee, demerara and sea salt) and the London Absinthe Spritz (Devil’s Botany London absinthe, prosecco, elderflower and The London Essence soda water).
Callooh Callay is an award-winning Shoreditch spot that’s been serving some of London’s most renowned cocktails since 2008. It also has locations in Islington and Chelsea.
Expect a cool and classy environment, with an exciting drinks menu that you’ll spend ages perusing and trying to decide on. It includes The Wave (Tapatio Blanco tequila Wray And Nephew rum, Blue Curacao, lime, bubble gum and coconut water) and The High Five (Discarded Banana rum, Rumbar Gold rum, Bacardi Carta Blanco rum, sugar and lemon).
Based in Smithfield Market, The Oriole combines “beguiling décor with enthralling refreshments and glowing hospitality”. There is often live jazz music in the evenings, helping to create the perfect laidback but glamorous atmosphere.
The drinks menu is inspired by stories from across the world, and it will make you dizzy with excitement. And, when your choice is served, you’ll probably just spent a good 10 minutes staring at the incredible creation in front of you.
Try the Daintree Collins (O’ndina Gin, eucalyptus and peach wine and clear pink lady juice) and the Cape Verde (Plymouth gin, white port, buchu leaf, grapefruit liqueur and sherry tonic).
Part of the growing Adventure Bar venues, Blame Gloria is a super fun spot in Covent Garden. Expect disco brunches, cocktail making classes and social clubs. The cocktail menu features the Summertime Fun (rosé wine, Passoa passion fruit liqueur and lemon juice) and the Prom Queen mocktail (passion fruit and vanilla blend, pineapple and citrus juices, and non-alcoholic prosecco).
The Lost Alhambra
Hidden downstairs in a Leicester Square venue, The Lost Alhambra is a theatre that dates back to 1854. The leading ladies of the stage would descend underground after their performances to eat oysters, drink champagne and flirt. And that’s exactly what you can continue doing there today.
The bar also puts on live performances and drag brunches for you to enjoy while sipping on a classic cocktail, such as the Porn Star Martini (vanilla-infused Eristoff vodka, passion fruit liqueur, apple juice, vanilla and prosecco) and the Pisco Inferno (pisco, passionfruit, peach liqueur, vanilla and ginger ale.)
The Little Mermaid Cocktail Experience
OK, this is a particularly special one. The Little Mermaid Cocktail Experience is a 60-minute submersive theatrical experience based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairytale. As well as meeting mermaids, you get to savour three tasty and bespoke-themed cocktails.
Main image: Mrs Riot
All other images: courtesy of venues