Whether your drink of choice is a martini, a mojito or a negroni, read Emyr Thomas‘s suggestions for the best cocktail bars in London.
The Gilbert Scott
With ornately painted ceilings and stunning bell chandeliers you are instantly swept up in the grandeur of the space. The Gilbert Scott bar is absolutely gorgeous and has some wonderful concoctions for you to try.
The Zetter Townhouse
The venue is designed around ‘Aunt Wilhelmina’, a crazy old aunt whose trinkets and artefacts from her global travels make the Zetter the most unusual venue I’ve been to in a long time. The cocktail menu is short but perfectly formed.
Each cocktail is the result of a specific concept, and is the product of multiple experiments a lab to get the final libation just right. Expect unusual ingredients, and the influence of many different techniques and fields, making The Zetter Townhouse a contender for one of the best cocktail bars in London.
The bar is open until midnight from Sunday to Wednesday; until 1am Thursday to Saturday. It is based in the Zetter Townhouse hotel with its quirky rooms so you can check-in upstairs if you’ve had too many cocktails!
The Hawksmoor Bar
The new Hawksmoor Bar in the basement of the original Hawksmoor Spitalfields on Commercial Street is a very fashionable and glamorous affair. A strip club was first turned into a fruit store and this spring has been reborn as a beautiful 60-cover bar.
The bar is dark, mysterious and funky with an excellent food offering to match, as you’d expect from one of London’s best steakhouses.
Callooh Callay has an imaginative cocktail menu featuring old favourites and classics in an eclectic space that is as quirky and nonsensical as the Lewis Carroll poem from which it takes its name.
Through a Narnia-esque wardrobe, you are taken to the Jubjub bar, an intimate little room that’s perfect for an intimate party at one of the best cocktail bars in London.
69 Colebrooke Row
The classy and bijou 69 Colebrooke Row has caused quite a stir on London’s cocktail scene over the last year. The owner, Tony Conigliaro, who perfected his craft at the Shochu Lounge at Roka, is described as a molecular mixologist, and nobody can argue with his take on the classic cocktail, which are well priced at one of the best cocktail bars in London.
Montgomery Place is small, intimate, mature and sophisticated. Inspired by the Rat Pack era, cocktails are served against a backdrop of black & white photography, in a relaxed setting, with staff who know their cocktails.
The Connaught hotel features two of London’s best cocktail bars that are ideal for very different occasions. The warmth and intimacy of the Coburg Bar make it a wonderful place to relax after a day at the office or shopping and certainly one of our best cocktail bars in London.
The design and the cocktails at the Connaught Bar, with its marble, dark leather and metal Art Deco detailing, are perfect for an upbeat glamorous evening with friends. We highly recommend one of their signature Martinis.
Mark’s Bar is located in the basement of Mark Hix’s latest venture in Soho, serving some great cocktails from renowned mixologist, Nick Strangeway. The bar has a warm, clubby and retro feel with its low zinc bar, tin panels and bar billiards table, which is fast becoming Soho’s most popular venue.
One of the best new bars of 2012, Dabbous restaurant and bar launched on Whitfield Street in Fitzrovia in late January 2012, the first solo venture from Ollie Dabbous, formerly of Michelin-starred Texture, and mixologist Oskar Kinberg, formerly bar manager at the Cuckoo Club.
Spread over two levels, the restaurant has an industrial but organic design, with exposed brickwork, sheet metal and copper pipes offset by rustic candles and natural woods.
The basement bar serves some of the best cocktails in London, and also makes for an excellent venue for a private party, where you can sample some exquisite canapés.
The Donovan Bar at Brown’s Hotel in Mayfair is cool, stylish, intimate and a haven for fashionistas. The walls are adorned with Terence Donovan’s iconic black and white prints, which add a contemporary twist to the history of the surroundings.
The Donovan features in our guide to London’s best hotel bars, and must surely be a contender for one of the best cocktail bars in London.
Situated in the beautifully revamped Langham hotel, the David Collins designed bar is sleek, sexy and dramatic. With its 50 types of rum, Artesian is ideally placed for a post shopping cocktail or a refined haven from the frenzy of nearby Soho at one of the best cocktail bars in London.
Bob Bob Ricard in Soho is designed in the style of a train with booths for 4 to sit and plush curtains between booths. It oozes Art Deco decadence with its buzzy atmosphere, and there’s a champagne button on your table to press when you need a top up.
They have an excellent bar downstairs where you can try their modern take on classic cocktails, such as my favourite, the rhubarb gin and tonic. Bob Bob Ricard is a string contender for the best cocktail bar in London.
Widely regarded as London’s oldest restaurant, Rules still thrives in the heart of Covent Garden, thankfully not succumbing to the tourist trap. The upstairs bar is dark and cosy, with a gentlemen’s club feel to it, offering a historical take on the best cocktail bars in London.
The Bassoon Bar at The Corinthia
The Corinthia Hotel is one of London’s newest luxury hotels, situated close to Trafalgar Square and the Houses of Parliament in an old Ministry of Defence building.
The hotel’s gorgeous bar, The Bassoon Bar, was designed by David Collins, where the centrepiece is the piano – not only do they have regular live music but the piano is built into the bar!
The bar is stylish, relaxed and has an excellent cocktail list and feels warm and welcoming in the winter.
Nightjar is a beautiful bar hidden away in a basement in Old Street – the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of London.
The bartenders at Nightjar take a lot of care and attention when it comes to making their cocktails. They’re executed with flair and are garnished with some of the most insane but beautiful garnishes I’ve ever come across.
Nightjar is a great place to relax with a drink alongside laid back jazz and brilliant live music on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at one of the best cocktail bars in London.
One of London’s best kept bar secret, Le Salon is a dark, intimate and seductive haven for cocktail lovers, offering all the classics with a few twists. The décor is a mix of black and red in sumptuous fabrics and it really feels like you’re somewhere very few know about.
The bar is on the top floor of a restaurant by Joel Robuchon, one of the most celebrated chefs across the world, which you can only access by a lift.
If you liked this top 10 feature, why not read our guide to the best hotel bars?