Updated November 2020!
If you check my Instagram, you’ll see quite clearly that one of my favourite things to do in London is to get myself to a cocktail bar! I have many favourites, and a to-visit list for recommended places. This short list is generally for the more special occasions, where you’ll be paying on average at least around £10-15.00 per cocktail but you’ll be somewhere very fancy and beautiful and worth it for that money! Also thrown in a couple of places I think are just as lovely on a day to day level, that do a great happy hour or come up from time to time with offers. For that date, that special anniversary, or simply when you just need to celebrate being in London! You only live once, right?
As the post has been updated during UK lockdown, please save it for future reference!!
Fontaines (Stoke Newington overground)
Small but totally dreamy, I feel very smug indeed that this beauty sits on my doorstep in Stoke Newington. Step off the rather meh looking high street into this true 1920’s oasis. The owner has thought of every little detail, nothing of its decor has been scrimped on, the staff are wonderful and the cocktails are gorgeous.
On Thursdays the cocktails are just £5.00, plenty of cosy seating space, and the bar has many fab cinema and dance style events. Couldn’t recommend it more!
Hotel Cafe Royale (Central London: Piccadily Circus Tube)
We tried huge G&T’s such as Monkey 47 and Dods- £19 each with service charge included and some olives and light bar snacks were provided by the attentive staff. Great for photos throughout the elegant and impressive foyer areas, and really genuinely lovely staff.
The Green Bar possibly isn’t one of the nicest bars in terms of decor and layout, (get me to the Oscar Wilde Bar for afternoon tea pleeease) but we really enjoyed our drinks here, and I adore this photo of my friend Helen enjoying her fish bowl, below. It was a fun evening!
Bokan (Canary Wharf tube)
So this one was a little bit of a surprise for me! Canary Wharf is actually such a gorgeous area, but somewhere I don’t go too that often. There’s so much choice!
Based on the 38th floor of the Novotel hotel, Bokan is roomy with a fun mix of cocktails, all around the £12 mark (you’ll pay for additional service charge if you have waiter service of course, otherwise you can buy direct from the bar).
The views are really great- loved being able to see Greenwich, the Shard, London Eye and the Gherkin and the bar is roomy and split over 2 levels, with the great outdoor terrace, as below. Because it’s relatively unknown, I’d wager that it doesn’t get too hugely busy either, and we had ample choices of where to sit when we visited one Saturday afternoon.
The Coral Rooms (Tottenham Court Road tube)
The Coral Room is cosy, chic and simply gorgeous. I felt it had a 60’s vibes to it, and I loved the warm orange mixed with palm trees and cigar cool setting. You’ll wish you were there dressed in vintage finery!
We enjoyed the “Man about Town” and the “Swizzler” cocktails, and the bar staff provide a worthy performance in making them- who doesn’t love a fab cocktail making performance?!
It’s also next to the equally memorable for all the right reasons; the very inimitable Dalloway Terrace (whom I totally recommend for brunch).
Searcy’s Bar, The Gherkin (Aldgate)
Now this was a special destination and a much appreciated Christmas present. It was absolutely gorgeous to be sat at the top of such an iconic building as the Gherkin (even with rain) and watch night fall around you. Dream destination with a great friend(s) or someone special- to be honest, we saw parents and their children, families, couples: everyone and anyone enjoying themselves here. It was a glorious atmosphere and well worth the extra pennies, at roughly £14 per cocktail plus service charge.
The rainy evening didn’t dampen our time there. Sublime, cosy atmosphere: just remember you will need to book in advance.
Victorian Bath House (Liverpool St)
I celebrated my birthday here in 2018 with a friend, and just love the fact that this place is such a unique and interesting tardis! Right next to Liverpool St station, you’d walk past easily without realizing what it is- a grade 2 listed bathhouse, dating back to 1817. If you’re looking for something unusual, here it is!
We loved the gorgeous atmosphere, dark candlelit corners and array of cocktails. The service wasn’t quite the best as I recall (in terms of speed) but we had a tremendous time and I’d love to go back! Word of advice: you’ll need to book in advance for here!
High Water, (Dalston- East London)
Hip cocktail bar in Dalston, most perfect on weekday evenings when it’s candle lit and super chill! (Also super fun at weekends, but I just loved the zen of the place midweek- you really appreciate how pretty behind the bar is when there’s no one there!)
The “East End 8”, with gin instead of vodka, is reason to go ALONE. Shame I knock it back in 2 mouthfuls!
This is a small but cute coffee shop, come cocktail bar, where from 4-7pm daily, all scrumptious cocktails (I tried the Clover Club and Kingston Colada) are only £6.00. A real bargain!
And a perfect place to watch London city rush by. Not a whole lot of seats, so make sure you get there early, or stand outside in the sun to people watch. It’s a fab city based after work venue.
Mr Foggs Safari Experience (Covent Garden/ Charing Cross)
We bought an offer from Time Out London offering £20 instead of £30 for a little (slightly odd!) safari themed snack, alcohol flavored mousse, one G&T, and one cocktail. We loved our bar, our friendly waiter service and the drinks!
My friend and I both really like Mr Foggs, and I loved this themed bar, with the binoculars and safari hats on the table, and the little “bridge” you cross to come in. It was a fun evening and we left tipsy- very much recommend! It’s website is brilliant and well worth a look for extra ideas, we’ve also been to the Tavern, and loved all the gin choices.
The Blind Phoenix (Dalston Kingsland)
**So sad to say this has closed down- but please see https://thecauldron.io/london/potions for its sister venue.
This one should be top of the list for me- so sad it’s closed down and post lockdown, would like to check out its sister venue and the cocktail making class it offers! My friend and I got a fab deal on Time Out London (currently available at time of writing again 24/09/19)- £19 for 4 drinks, including a gin and tonic of your choosing and a cocktail, plus I think on top of that we got the most beautiful hazelnut liquor flavoured potion! The prices are otherwise standard London prices, but the drinks are mighty and they definitely offer something a bit “quirky” without mixing together flavours that are ridiculous! My favourite was the “Caludron Stiff Tea” which was served in a cup (which I personally really enjoy!) which had London dry gin, orange marmalade and Earl Grey tea as it’s main ingredients! My friends favourite drink was “The Blob”- see the photos below!
The staff were awesome, there were other guests but it was quiet, and we loved the magic themed designs, and how they carried this through to the drinks! Which were really gorgeous by the way.
The Alchemist came recommended to me, from a friend who knew I enjoyed quirky cocktail bars. We went to the branch at “Bevis Marks” which is just a 5 minute walk from Liverpool Street station tube and overground. On a Sunday it was lovely and quiet, the staff were super friendly and great at giving me a recommendation of drink based on what I like (gin and something sweet). I chose from the “theatrical” cocktails list, a “Cherry poppins”, and myself, and little Sonny were enthralled at the magic used to create the dome on top! I’d definitely return, because I do like a bit of theatre with my cocktail I have to say- childsplay in adulthood is most certainly something I enjoy!
London and its variety of cocktails both elegant and quirky- what could be better?!
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