London Bars & Nightlife
Bars & Nightlife neighborhood
68 and Boston
5 Greek St., Soho
68 and Boston covers two different moods: For a more relaxed evening, order wines by the glass and share toasts, croquettes, and charcuterie at 68. If you're feeling livelier, head next door to Boston, where bartenders mix up modern takes on classics, like old-fashioneds and martinis, plus house cocktails. Either way, you'll be sit very close to other customers, but the atmosphere is more cozy than crowded.
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.
58 Poland St., Soho
The Blind Pig is a proper speakeasy. In other words, it’s difficult to find. (Look for the old-school optician’s sign and knock). Once you’re inside, the dark, moody interior feels a little illicit in the best way. The low ceiling is entirely mirrored, the bar is a long sheet of polished copper, and the booths are a rich brown leather you immediately want to melt into. The cocktails are tongue-in-cheek interpretations named after the figures from our childhoods—Peter Rabbit, Pooh, even Harry Potter—with a full illustrated menu to match. Aptly, the Harry Potter is a reimagined butterbeer bitter, butterscotch included.
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.
35 St. James's Pl., Mayfair
A well-made martini is hard to come by, and for this alone, Dukes Hotel Bar merits a visit. This quintessentially British bar is an elegant affair and a perfect spot to decompress in Mayfair. Have a seat at one of the tables and take in the hushed civility around you—portraits of notable Brits, prints of city landmarks. In a few minutes, a bartender in a starched white jacket will come by with the martini trolley and mix the cocktail to your exact specifications. It’s ideal for a calm drink with your parents (the cigar and Cognac garden helps), or come alone, sit at the bar, and enjoy the indulgence of a perfectly mixed drink, just because.
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.
95a Rye Lane, Peckham
Ever since 2008, Frank's Cafe—a bar 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.
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