London Bars & Nightlife
Bars & Nightlife neighborhood
69 Colebrooke Row
69 Colebrooke Row, Islington
The lab above the bar is where resident mixologist, Tony Conigliaro, concocts recipes for his unique and delicious cocktails. Despite being open seven days a week with live jazz every Sunday night, the vibe is relaxed and cool. Make sure to reserve beforehand, as it’s a small space, or try the offshoot at the Zetter Townhouse.
7 Old Compton St., Soho
From Tony Conigliaro, the don of cocktail-making in London and founder of 69 Colebrooke Row, and Marco Arrigo, the head of quality at Illy, comes an Italian-inspired coffee and cocktail bar so perfect that it might just beat the real thing. Here, you can have your cappuccino at the bar—made with UHT milk, just as the Italians do—or sit at one of the tables sipping transcendent cocktails served by mixologists in elegant, crisp white uniforms. The space is tiny, which actually makes the experience all the more charming and authentic.
Berkeley Blue Bar
The Berkeley Hotel, Wilton Place, Knightsbridge
The David Collins-designed space is true to its' name, with blue hues and contemporary furnishings throughout. The cocktails are as good as you would expect from The Berkeley, complete with a liquid amuse-bouche. Overall, a wonderful hotel bar.
Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels
8-10 Neal's Yard, Covent Garden
From the infamous "Quatre Garçons," a group of French dandies known for their splashy bars and eateries, comes this pitch-perfect wine bar known as the CVS for short. They've intelligently created a two floor suite of comfort, full of soft upholstery, cushions, rugs, and walls painted dark, velvety tones. It has that clubby feel of the kind of place you'd stick around for hours, and undoubtedly will, for the extensive wine list (pages upon pages of mostly European bottles) and phenomenal snacks—the mandatory charcuterie and cheese boards (sourced at Androuet, no less) and an ever-changing sandwich that's earned top marks.
20 Upper Ground, Southwark
This botanical bar that crowns the Mondrian's Sea Containers on the Thames is stewarded by mixologist of the moment, Ryan Chetiyawardana. Besides his innovative cocktails—many made with high-tech techniques all his own—the Tom Dixon-designed space is plushly outfitted, and there are unparalleled views of the Thames both on the top floor of the hotel, and downstairs.
Experimental Cocktail Club
13A Gerrard St., Soho
This two-story space is decorated with antiques, complete with chandeliers overhead. It can get crowded, service can be leisurely, and prices aren't low, but if you're looking for speakeasy chic, right down to the inventive cocktails and the vested and mustached waiters, this is it. Email in advance for reservations.
Frank’s Cafe (Closed)
Peckham Multistory Car Park, 95a Rye Lane, Southwark
Ever since 2008, Frank's Cafe—a bar and pop up restaurant located on top of a parking garage in Peckham—has been the neighborhood's main hub for summertime drinking. It's fairly bare bones when it comes to drinks and presentation—cocktails are pretty standard and you dine at shared picnic tables—but the sunset views across South London make navigating the always crowded concrete rooftop worthwhile. There are a lot of good up-and-coming galleries in the area, too, including Hannah Barry and The Sunday Painter. This means that the best nights to head over are after the gallery openings, when many of the neighborhood's young artists and curators head out for a celebratory drink, and this installment of the pop-up's light, Mediterranean-inspired fare.
147 Curtain Rd., Shoreditch
The guys behind some of the best cocktail bars in London, Paris, and New York—Experimental Cocktail Club and Companie des Vins Surnaturels—are adding another feather to their cap with Joyeux Bordel, a completely francophile, OTT confabulation of an old 20's drinking den complete with a dark wood and marble bar, antique Turkish rugs, and dark, moody interiors. Drinks are limited to a short menu of new cocktails dreamed up by their master mixologist, while, equally, the champagne flows freely and so do the snacks and Andouet cheese plates. In keeping with the somewhat old-timey theme, some of the more old-fashioned drinks are served in vintage glassware too. Meanwhile, funk, soul and disco are on the retro, all vinyl sound system. In time for the coldest, darkest months in London is a bar cozy and inviting enough to keep you indoors the entire season.
329 Fulham Rd., Chelsea
Complete with the Iron Lady's speeches sounding from the bathroom speakers, this tongue-in-cheek club pays homage to the 80's. Rad graffiti-style murals (including one of Super Mario), Rubix cube-inspired tables, and a smattering of Thatcher portraits lend it kitschy appeal. It's a great destination for a fun—albeit expensive—night out in Chelsea.
129 City Rd., Shoreditch
Run like an old-fashioned speakeasy, it is easy to miss the black door that marks the entrance (it doesn't help that it's down a flight of dark stairs). Once you’re in, it’s like a true jazz age bar with some stiff, old fashioned drinks. Their super spicy Bloody Mary, which comes with a basket full of fixings so you can customize, is pretty memorable. You’ll often encounter troops of swing dancers ready to dance to the live jazz provided by the bar.
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