If you were to sum Brixton with one word, it would probably be ‘contrasts.’ This certainly rings true as far as Brixton’s bar scene is concerned, with London’s most-loved music venues rubbing shoulders with a Champagne fromagerie. Here’s our pick of the best bars in Brixton to grab a drink at.
The Shrub and Shutter was one of the first bars to bring serious cocktail-making to the neighbourhood. With a theatrical feel (the drinks menu is called a ‘program’), playfulness is the order of the day and the program is peppered with puns that are carried right through to every detail of the imaginative drinks. Options include a ‘Who Killed Roger Rabbit?’ cocktail, complete with Warner Brothers & Edwards gin and pickled carrots with dip. The Shrub and Shutter also serves creative and unusual dishes (think smoked duck breast with popcorn), with a small, seasonal menu packed full of locally sourced ingredients – some of which are from the staff’s own gardens.
While The Duke of Edinburgh’s interior is more 70s time-warp than cool South London bar, this pub is all about the vast, lush beer garden. In summer there are daily BBQs, with meats brought straight to the grill from a Cornish Farm. The drinks are fairly standard pub fare (apart from the newly-introduced cocktail jugs), but The Duke of Edinburgh has a great atmosphere. Those looking for something more gastro-pub in feel should head around the corner to the Trinity Arms, which has a more intimate beer garden complete with fairy lights and fire pits for keeping warm in winter. But for anyone looking for a pre-gig drink, or somewhere to while away an afternoon with a large group of friends, The Duke of Edinburgh is a sure bet.
From the team behind Brixton favourite, Seven at Brixton, Three Eight Four serves up innovative cocktails and small plates. With a distressed, semi-exposed brickwork interior, and a Brooklyn-style metal grill on the outside, Three Eight Four is very much in the camp of Brixton’s new generation of watering holes. Cocktails are inventive and top-notch, with unusual flavour combinations and many unexpected surprises. The team has gone to town in terms of how food and drink is served, and visitors can expect to receive their orders perched on a ping pong paddle, or tucked inside a take-away carton. With a young, vibrant atmosphere, and situated just around the corner from Brixton tube station, Three Eight Four gets busy very quickly, so booking is highly recommended.
One of Brixton’s best loved and most well-known institutions is Dogstar. Having launched as London’s first DJ bar in 1995, part-bar, part-club, part-restaurant (serving up mouth-watering stone-baked pizzas), Dogstar has become renowned for its DJ sets, helping to launch many an illustrious career. Over the last 20 years Dogstar has welcomed the likes of Basement Jaxx, The Prodigy and Massive Attack, among many others.
While the concept of this Brixton Market Champagnerie was met with distraught, accusatory cries of ‘gentrification’ when it first stepped elegantly onto the scene, Champagne + Fromage has quickly become a Brixton institution in its own right. And with a focus on quality French food and drink, its status is well deserved too. Adding yet another contrast to the diverse Brixton drinking scene, Champagne + Fromage does exactly what it says on the tin, with a small but perfectly formed menu of bubbles, top-notch charcuterie and, of course, cheese. And having bagged a spot at the heart of Brixton Market, it’s the perfect place to sit and people-watch, too. Champagne + Fromage is the ideal bar for a relaxed evening, or a sophisticated celebration. And with regular cheese and wine pairing nights, it’s educational, too.