Food

An insider's guide to the London bars you might not know about

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Amy Swales
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It’s all well and good hopping along to every hot new opening or sticking to your favourite bars, but ever wondered where the people who work in those fine establishments frequent once they’ve stopped serving us? You’ve come to the right place.

Just as we provided you with the must-try London cocktails beloved of industry experts, find here a guide to the city’s drinking dens favoured by those in the know.



Imbibing bible Where Bartenders Drink lists 700 bars and pubs – a collection compiled by tapping up more than 200 top bartenders and boozy insiders to find out their favourite spots worldwide, and we’ve narrowed it down to the 11 gems in London you might not know about.

So while you may have heard of some, it’s always good to have a few suggestions outside your usual drinks stomping ground to call on at any given moment. And if you’re scoffing, “Unknown? Bar Termini?!” then bully for you, you win all the cool points. Have fun with those, the rest of us will be grabbing a Martini…

where bartenders drink

Where Bartenders Drink, published by Phaidon, is out now (RRP £16.95, uk.phaidon.com)

Main image: The Pink Chihuahua

  • Satan's Whiskers, Bethnal Green

    “A great neighborhood haven – and one I recommend when someone is doing the increasingly busy East End cocktail tour. Always relaxed, with a great local feel, the bar makes brilliantly executed versions of classic cocktails without any pomposity or fuss.”
    Ryan Chetiyawardana (aka Mr Lyan, owner Dandelyan/White Lyan)

    343 Cambridge Heath Road, E2 9RA; facebook.com/satanswhiskers

  • Sager + Wilde, Hackney

    “Whenever I have a night off in London, this is the most likely place you’ll find me. I love the relaxed atmosphere and the amazing wine-by-the-glass menu, which changes daily. They always have very interesting selections, and should you feel hungry, they do great bar food as well.”
    Monica Berg (bartender, co-founder pourdrink.org)

    193 Hackney Road, E2 8JL; sagerandwilde.com

  • Lounge Bohemia, Shoreditch

    “Lounge Bohemia is owned and run by an amazing character, Paul Tvaroh, a great inspiration for me in the world of bartending.”
    Bek Narzi (co-owner, Pachamama Restaurant Group)

    1e Great Eastern Street, EC2A 3EJ; loungebohemia.com (advance bookings only)

  • Trailer Happiness, Notting Hill

    “Good atmosphere and friendly people. If you are in the city for business and are going out alone for a drink, this is definitely the best neighborhood bar.”
    Hasse Bank Johansen (owner St. Pauls Apothek)

    177 Portobello Road, W11 2DY; trailerh.com

  • Bar Termini, Soho

    “I love the concept of Bar Termini. One of the only places in the world where you can have both great coffees and great cocktails. It’s an aperitivo bar so if you like your Negronis and other Italian aperitifs, you should definitely pay a visit to Bar Termini.”
    Guillaume Le Dorner (bar manager, 69 Colebrooke Row)

    7 Old Compton Street, W1D 5JE; bar-termini.com

  • The Pink Chihuahua, Soho

    “There’s nothing better than slamming a few shots of tequila with spicy pomegranate. Fun drinks in a fun environment. The perfect after-work spot!”
    Dan Berger (bar manager, Ace Hotel London)

    “It is just the best. Tequila, mezcal, good music, good vibes, and insane times. Every time I go to London it is a MUST stop.”
    Ivy Mix (owner Leyenda)

    25-27 Brewer Street, El Camion Mexicano, W1F 0RR; elcamion.co.uk

  • The 10 Cases, Covent Garden

    “They do my favorite wine by the glass. I love their walnut salami and the fact that you can eat dinner down in the cellar.”
    Tony Conigliaro (owner 69 Colebrooke Row, co-founder The Drink Factory)

    16 Endell Street, WC2H 9BD; 10cases.co.uk

  • The Hide Bar, London Bridge

    “Just a friendly neighborhood bar, where the bartenders take their drinks seriously. The decor is very cozy, and service is always good.”
    Ethan Liu (reserve brand ambassador, Diageo China)

    39-45 Bermondsey Street, SE1 3XF; thehidebar.com

  • 69 Colebrooke Row, Islington

    “Tony Conigliaro was one of the first to apply molecular science to libations. All the research is done in his lab above the bar, so cool. What’s better than sitting down in a room inspired by a 1950s Italian café, and sipping on a champagne cocktail that has somehow reconstructed the famous Chanel No. 5 scent.”
    Vincent Stipo (real estate and hospitality consultant, MSC Retail)

    69 Colebrooke Row, N1 8AA; 69colebrookerow.com

  • The Prospect of Whitby, Wapping

    “My favorite riverfront pub in London. A cozy warren of rooms, filled with great nautical decor, beautiful views over the water, and well-kept real ale. Perfect for a long, peaceful afternoon.”
    Martin Cate (owner Smuggler’s Cove and Whitechapel)

    57 Wapping Wall, E1W 3SH; taylor-walker.co.uk

  • Milk & Honey, Soho

    “Always a good bar to go to with impeccable service. The guys there know how to make you comfortable. There is a real dedication and passion about the way things are done at Milk & Honey.”
    Guillaume Le Dorner

    61 Poland Street, W1F 7NU; mlkhny.com (non-members must book in advance)

    Image: 50 Best Bars

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Amy Swales

Amy Swales is a freelance writer who likes to eat, drink and talk about her dog. She will continue to plunder her own life and the lives of her loved ones for material in the name of comedy, catharsis and getting pictures of her dog on the internet.

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