Pubs might be the first thing to come to mind where drinking in London is concerned, but the city has an equally rich tradition where cocktail bars are concerned. Bartenders in London have invented numerous classic cocktails and help shape the international cocktail scene to this day, with London’s cocktail bars regularly ranking among the best in the world. Our guide to the best cocktail bars in London is here to help you navigate the capital’s vibrant cocktail scene, so read on!
Guide to the best cocktail bars in London
In this guide
The best cocktail bars in London
- 🔶🟥🔵 A Bar with Shapes for a Name – Hot new kid on the block
- Tayēr + Elementary – Two-parter by celebrated bartenders
- The American Bar at The Savoy – World-famous cocktail icon
- Connaught Bar – The best bar in the world two years running
- Florattica – Floral haven up above
- Seed Library – Mr Lyan's analogue touch
- Nightjar – Speakeasy, drinkhard
- Swift – Two for the price of one
- Untitled Bar – Warholesque showcase for rockstar mixologist
- Three Sheets – Understated yet essential
- Hacha – Specialist Bar of the Year 2022
- Artesian – Award-winning conceptual cocktails
- Happiness Forgets – Great cocktails, no wallies
- Coupette – Sophisticated French cocktail masters
- Satan's Whiskers – Hella cool
- Upstairs at Rules – Classic cocktail glamour
- Trailer Happiness – Tropical energy
- Bar Américain – Prohibition-era drinks
- The Cocktail Club – Good for big nights out
- Callooh Callay – Cocktail Wonderland
- Lyaness – Mr Lyan's highly desired flagship
- Smokey Kudu – Lekker cocktails
- The Chocolate Cocktail Club – Chocolate heaven
- Experimental Cocktail Club – Mysterious Chinatown speakeasy
- Homeboy Bar – A different kind of Irish bar
- Disrepute – Risqué affairs and clandestine meetings
- Opium – Three-in-one Chinese cocktail palace
- Scarfes Bar – Famed artist's drawing room
- Bar Termini – La dolce vita
- Behind This Wall – Relaxed audiophile hangout
- Map Maison – Timeless and creative
- The Library Bar – Cocktail cream tea
- The Mirror Bar – Glamorous surroundings
- 69 Colebrooke Row – Top choice for creative cocktails
- Christina's Shoreditch – Elegant and experimental
- Pacifica – A cocktail capital
- Donovan Bar – Ranked among the World's Best Bars
The best cocktail bars in London
Hot new kid on the block
A Bar with Shapes for a Name redefines what makes a bar by stripping it all down to the bare essentials, just like its name does. The Bauhaus-inspired, unelaborate bar pursues minimalism and functionalism through art and absences, featuring only twelve cocktails on its menu, all from ingredients selected via blind tastings and all on your table in 60 seconds. Simple, effective and flavourful. The best-seller is the Pastel, a carbonated vodka-based bottle that was declared the Cocktail of the Year at the 2022 CLASS Bar Awards.
Two-parter by celebrated bartenders
This double-venue in Shoreditch comes from star bartenders Alex Kratena and Monica Berg. Elementary in the front of the house is a minimalist walk-in bar in an exposed-vents-and-brick industrial style where you go for quickly served drinks such as the One-Sip Martini, a shot-style take on the iconic cocktail. The welcoming Tayēr in the back, meanwhile, is a showcase for the mixologists’ craft and their in-house Muyu liqueurs.
World-famous cocktail icon
The legendary American Bar at The Savoy hotel has been around for more than 125 years and is a true piece of bartending history. It has served Marilyn Monroe, Ernest Hemingway, Marlene Dietrich and numerous other famous faces through the decades, and it is where famed bartender Harry Craddock developed classic cocktails such as the White Lady and the Corpse Reviver. Today, the Art Deco establishment remains an icon on the city’s cocktail scene.
The best bar in the world two years running
The Connaught Bar accompanied its five-star hotel parent and three-Michelin-starred restaurant cousin as the Best Bar in the world in 2021 (and 2020), as judged by industry experts. The stylish Art Deco establishment incorporates both vintage elegance and contemporary trendiness, as are the cocktails, with the mixologists interpreting such intangible things as impressions and feelings into new concoctions. The star of the show is still the dry martini, however, mixed on a trolley at your table.
Floral haven up above
A vibrant, colourful oasis on the 11th floor in the Minories, Florattica boasts an eye-catching interior, matched only by the excellent views of the city through the floor-to-ceiling windows, or from the al fresco terrace. Drawing inspiration from East London's textile industry heritage, the upmarket cocktail bar features a ceiling covered with a lavish floral installation, a marble bar and floral patterns covering the comfortable seating. The drinks menu, crafted by mixologist Serena Carrino, guides you on a sensory journey through the world of flowers.
Mr Lyan's analogue touch
The Seed Library comes courtesy of Ryan Chetiyawardana, aka Mr Lyan of Lyaness fame, representing a stripped-back, analogue approach to both the setting and the drinks. These rotate regularly and use a wide array of ingredients, following the bar’s ethos by instilling classic concoctions with a maker’s touch. The Old Fashioned, for example, is made with chestnut honey water, and the Gimlet with coriander seed. On weekends, DJs spin vinyl.
Nightjar brings the same sort of Prohibition-era glam to the heart of Soho with a cocktail menu divided according to historical eras. The oldest concoctions date back to the 1600s, and there's live jazz, swing, blues or funk music four days a week. The immersive feeling of a different time and place is strong indeed.
Two for the price of one
Swift is related to Nightjar and brings the same sort of hushed vibe to its intimate basement den, where you can choose from over 300 whiskies from around the world while listening to live music. The more clean-cut cocktail bar upstairs, meanwhile, is a regular on lists of best bars in the world, with a stylish setting and expertly-prepared cocktails. Try the Sgroppino, made with lemon sorbet, St Germain and prosecco, or the Bloody Mary with Swift’s own spice mix.
Warholesque showcase for rockstar mixologist
Acclaimed bartender Tony Conigliaro is often regarded as a genius of contemporary mixology. Untitled is his silver-tinged, industrial spot in Dalston, inspired by Andy Warhol and encompassing a lovely garden for al fresco dining. The kitchen pushes boundaries with the help of changing residencies, while the cocktails stick to impressing through restraint. They’re simply named but bring together ingredients and flavours in new and unexpected ways. The earthy "Snow", with white clay and chalk enoki vodka, is a prime example.
Understated yet essential
The Venning Brothers don’t try to wow you with the extent of their knowledge, focusing on quality over quantity with just nine cocktails – three sheets of three – each week. They’ve still managed to turn this compact, minimalist bar into a key part of London’s cocktail scene, which speaks volumes about their skill. If you don’t believe us, start with the Earth Martini with beetroot and work your way through the sheets.
Specialist Bar of the Year 2022
The first bar in the capital to specialise in tequila and mezcal, Hacha has been voted one of the best bars in the country. You can sample a range of spirits and cocktails in the warm and welcoming interior, as well as an authentic menu of Mexican food. Their concoctions come with some serious accolades – the sweet 'n' sharp Mirror Margarita was declared the Cocktail of the Year 2020 at the CLASS Bar Awards, and the place as a whole was named Specialist Bar of the Year 2022!
Award-winning conceptual cocktails
The Artesian's star bartender Remy Savage might have moved on to his own successful venture 🔶🟥🔵, but the bar at the 5-star Langham hotel that won an award for 2020 Drinks Menu of the Year when he was head bartender there has lost none of its draw – or mixological craziness. The changing cocktail menu focuses on concepts such as for example dualities, taking a common element and running with it in different directions for seven pairs of crafted potions.
Great cocktails, no wallies
Considering the global juggernauts it goes up against, it’s no small feat for what is essentially a compact basement dive in Hoxton to be regularly called one of the best bars in the world. But combining the easy-going, welcoming charm of a neighbourhood favourite with serious expertise in mixology works wonders. The staff can make you a drink based on whatever preferences you provide, but don’t worry if you stick to the classics – they might quickly become your favourite version of the drink.
Sophisticated French cocktail masters
Launched in 2017, Bethnal Green’s Coupette quickly made a name for itself with an avantgarde drinks list. Considered one of the best bars in the world, the award-winning venue lets you savour sophisticated cocktails in a stylish setting – the Champagne Pina Colada is a popular choice. There are lots of mixology-related events going on, for example mixing masterclasses and talks, as well as live piano music twice a week.
While most would associate a cocktail bar with relaxed, chill music, perhaps some jazz or the like, Satan’s Whiskers are infamous for their hip-hop playlist as much as their killer cocktails. The legendary Bethnal Green hangout is hella cool when it comes to decor as well, with taxidermized critters and old-school liqueur posters on the bare-brick walls. It’s quickly clear why it’s not just a neighbourhood favourite but one of the best bars in the city.
Classic cocktail glamour
Those in the know say you’ll have a hard time finding a better Martini, Gimlet or some other classic cocktail elsewhere. The Rules restaurant’s upstairs bar is all dark wood elegance and tastefully plush, a charming setting for indulging in a bit of old-school glamour and relaxation. They don’t just stick to the classics, either, as legendary mixologist Brian Silva does interesting things with even more interesting ingredients.
This award-winning basement tiki bar in Notting Hill has a sophisticated but fun interior. Focused on rum, the drinks menu serves up tropical favourites with a twist, for example Mai Tais, as well as innovative house mixes. The lively venue also hosts cocktail-making masterclasses.
The dimly-lit basement in Soho is a proper American-style cocktail bar, providing a polished, dark wood and leather setting for classic cocktails dating to before the prohibition era in the U.S. Expect classics such as the Corpse Reviver and the Cosmopolitan, crafted according to their original recipes. On the more contemporary front, they’ve partnered with the neighbouring Moulin Rouge! musical production for a line of playful and colourful drinks dedicated to the show’s characters.
Good for big nights out
Whereas many of London's cocktail bars go for muted settings and elegance, the successful Cocktail Clubs around town outright court what others lack or even outright avoid – unrestrained fun and wild abandon. The daily parties go late, the drinks are well made, and the atmosphere is vibrant.
This Lewis Carroll-themed cocktail spot features comfortable booths, rich colours on the walls and, of course, plenty of books. Callooh Callay has won awards for its innovative drinks list and inspiring setting, most recently being named to Imbibe's Top 50 Cocktail Bars 2022 list.
Mr Lyan's highly desired flagship
Another one of celebrated cocktail shaker Ryan “Mr Lyan” Chetiyawardana’s ventures, Lyaness is one of the city’s most sought-after bars. The luxe and retro spot overlooking the Thames boasts comfortable velvet seating, lots of metallic touches, and miniature table lamps to create atmosphere. The drinks list uses experimentation and a global approach to discovering the most exciting flavours and ingredients for inventive cocktails.
Smokey Kudu, having relocated from Peckham to Chelsea, offers a unique South African touch to classic cocktails, such as the Cape Old Fashioned featuring South African Whisky and the Springbokkie shot made with Amarula liqueur. The cocktail bar is situated within the flagship Rixo store, allowing patrons to unwind while shopping.
If you’re in love with the cocoa, The Chocolate Cocktail Club will have you licking your chops. The unique bar, the first such venue in the UK, focuses on chocolate-based cocktails such as the Chocotini with a chocolate-encrusted rim, the white choc Pina Colada and the decadent Absolutely Fabulous Darling! loaded with Baileys. Of course, there are plenty of choco treats to nibble on, as well as choc-infused wine, gin and more.
Mysterious Chinatown speakeasy
It’s not the easiest of tasks, but once you do find the right unassuming door in Chinatown, the Experimental Cocktail Club welcomes you with wondrous drinks alchemy in a plush setting, with the ingredients to match – there are quite a few rarities among the spirits on offer. We won’t say more and spoil the fun, but despite its demure online and IRL presence, this place is worth the effort.
A different kind of Irish bar
The Homeboy Bars update traditional Irish hospitality for contemporary times, crafting drinks that put the versatility of Irish whisky to good use with the help of modern mixology techniques. Paired with hearty Irish dishes, as well as the obligatory Guinness, of course, the brick-walled Islington original has made the list of the Top 50 Cocktail Bars in the UK list.
Risqué affairs and clandestine meetings
Disrepute’s name, glitzy interior and leather booths recall the 1960s, when the basement bar was one of the locations of the infamous Profumo affair that shook UK politics. Its current reputation, however, is that of one of the best cocktail bars in London and the country as a whole. Their so-called narrative cocktails help you pick your poison through short descriptions of various characters, and the notepaper for passing discreet messages to other patrons adds its own thrill.
Three-in-one Chinese cocktail palace
Seeing as it houses three bars, a visit to Opium is an exciting and immersive experience in and of itself. Choose from a comfortable lounge, a bar with a tea parlour or a small, intimate venue and order Asian-inspired drinks with intense flavours like yuzu, chocolate and miso, balanced with other ingredients to create unique modern cocktails such as the Umami Martini or the Shanghai Punch. There’s also a dim sum menu to accompany the drinks with.
Famed artist's drawing room
Famed British caricaturist Gerald Scarfe’s work is all over the fashionably cosy Scarfes Bar, covering the marble walls between the shelves packed with over 1,000 hand-picked antique books, peeking out from the menu and welcoming you to their website. The sophisticated and sociable venue lets you indulge in creative, cheekily-named concoctions such as the Monkey Business or the My Tie, and the masterfully crafted drinks solidify the bar’s reputation as one of the best in the world.
La dolce vita
Another one from famed cocktail genius Tony Conigliaro, Bar Termini draws on Italian culture with both hands, serving fresh espressos during the day and classic cocktails at night. Obviously, the drinks are made with Italian ingredients and include house variations on typical favourites such as the Aperol Spritz, Negroni and Bellini. You can also grab some authentic antipasti to nibble on in the banquettes. The place is small and popular, however, so booking ahead is advisable.
Relaxed audiophile hangout
Behind This Wall is definitely the hip, knowledgeable, vinyl-collecting art student of the London cocktail scene, but without putting on the airs one might expect from such types. A haven for audiophiles, the casual basement cocktail bar has a custom hi-fi system, made from vintage composite parts, and no set drinks menu. Just request your cocktail of choice and the skilled bar staff will make it for you or provide a suitable alternative.
Timeless and creative
At Map Maison you can enjoy tapas, brunch, and a distinctive afternoon tea by day and sip on upscale cocktails into the night. The interior at this bar has a classic look with wood panels, floral arrangements, and rich jewel-toned booths. You can expect a menu of imaginative twists on classics.
Cocktail cream tea
Situated within the prestigious Lanesborough hotel in Knightsbridge, The Library Bar is a celebrated cocktail haven, showcasing an extraordinary assortment of spirits dubbed the “liquid museum”. Some of their cognacs even go back to the late 18th century! The private club ambiance is enhanced by weekly live music, and the talented mixologists curate a diverse selection of innovative cocktails. For extra indulgence, order the cocktail cream tea.
The Mirror Bar is a glitzy and glam destination for cocktails in Marylebone. This premium bar has sumptuous interiors in icy tones with metallic details. Classic and original cocktails are served here, including martinis mixed to your preference and dessert-inspired drinks. Upscale bar snacks like canapés and caviar complete your experience here.
Top choice for creative cocktails
Known for having no name, 69 Colebrooke Row is a legendary cocktail destination by master mixologist Tony Conigliaro. Original and experimental cocktails are the order of the day here, with genre-spanning live music to enhance the atmosphere. Classic drinks are available on request too at this intimate drinking spot.
Elegant and experimental
Elegant Shoreditch bar Christina's is a bustling place to try out innovative and seasonal cocktails such as mixes made with foraged ingredients. The bar is comfortable, filled with greenery, and has great views of the busy streets outside. Natural wine is also served if mixed drinks aren't for you.
A cocktail capital
Pacifica is a burger and cocktail bar in the heart of Brixton serving a tasty menu of classic and innovative burgers, tacos, salads and wings alongside a menu of mouthwatering cocktails. Expect classics like margaritas sat side by side with more contemporary takes like the chilli margarita and the hibiscus margarita. There's also a range of mezcals and tequilas that you can enjoy served simply as a 25ml serving or you can opt for all-time favs like the espresso martinis, caipirinhas, mojitos, and a variety of virgin cocktails. They also host bottomless brunches where you can indulge in free-flowing cocktails for two hours; Tequila Thursdays where you can enjoy tequila-based punch bowls for less; and Free-flowing Fridays which is bottomless drinks for less available to those who are dining in. They also host cocktail and gin-blending masterclasses.
Ranked among the World's Best Bars
In 2023, this elegant hotel bar ranked #92 on the World's Best Bars list. A flashy Mayfair hotspot, this cocktail bar is part of the five-star Brown's Hotel. Former president of the UK Bartender Guild Salvatore Calabrese and experienced mixologist Federico Pavan are in charge of the carefully constructed cocktail menu, with the attention to detail reflected in the plush setting.