The Best Cocktail Bars For Stylish Nights Out In London

The Long Lane in London has retro charm, cool drinks and is one of the best new bars in the city.
The Long Lane in London has retro charm, cool drinks and is one of the best new bars in the city.
James Moore

After a day spent exploring the bright lights and busy streets of London, you can work up quite a thirst. Scattered across the capital are all manner of bars and lounges, offering locals and tourists alike the opportunity to kick back and enjoy a few drinks. Check out our guide to the best cocktail bars in London, perfect spots in which to start the evening or stay and while away the night.

London’s late night scene has become one of its biggest selling points in recent years. The city that seemingly shut down after closing time is now full of small bars, cocktail lounges and places where you can get a drink and bite to eat. With a few new additions, here is our updated list of the most stylish spots in London today.

The Long Lane

New cocktail bar and eatery, The Long Lane opens up in Smithfield, London this summer. From the team behind stylish cocktail bar, The Racketeer in King’s Cross, The Long Lane is the latest opening by three veterans of the London hospitality scene, Jack Foxcroft, Tyvian Vigrass and Marco Torre. With over 60 years’ experience between the trio running some of London’s most iconic music venues such as AKA / The End and Village Underground, as well as some of the capital’s finest restaurant and bars, including Hawksmoor Spitalfields and Palomar in Soho, the new venue will be a bar and eatery with food exclusively provided by Babel.

If you want to show off your knowledge of the London drinking scene then note of this new entry

The Racketeer in King’s Cross was launched in 2017 and has firmly established itself as one of the best bars in the neighbourhood. The Racketeer is a classic independent cocktail bar and booze emporium located in London’s vibrant King’s Cross. Known for its modern approach to hospitality and service, the bar has a range of innovative cocktails at the neighbourhood hotspot. The Racketeer offers a contemporary spin on the classic cocktail menu for discerning drinkers and punters alike. Owned and operated by three veterans of the London hospitality scene, Jack Foxcroft, Tyvian Vigrass and Marco Torre – who between them they have over 50 years’ experience running some of London’s most iconic music venues: The End and Village Underground, as well as some of the capital’s finest restaurant bars including, Hawksmoor Spitalfields and Palomar in Soho – The Racketeer, with its décor a tasteful blend of traditional Victorian pub and classic French bistro offers the finest wine, cheese and charcuterie in a relaxed, elegant and stylish setting which is also home to a delightfully intimate secret walled garden.

A popular bar in King’s Cross, The Racketeer has a sense of individual style that feels perfectly at home in its surroundings

Artesian Bar

Nestled in the hallowed halls of the Langham Hotel, the Artesian Bar has previously been hailed the ‘world’s best bar’ by Drinks International. The delicious drinks available at the Artesian are subdivided into ‘classics’, ‘unfolding and exploring’ and ‘innovative’ categories. The ‘unfolding and exploring’ menu allows guests to sample the cutting edge creations Artesian has on offer. Try the Time, Space & Honey cocktail, comprising of Grey Goose vodka mixed with parsnips, honey and champagne. The ‘innovation’ menu pushes the cocktail frontier. Try the treacle cocktail that’s been designed to specifically complement the bar’s signature barbequed pork ribs.

The Connaught Bar

Part of the upmarket Connaught Hotel in Mayfair, The Connaught Bar has been described as looking ‘like an ice cube’, a nod, perhaps, to its décor, inspired by Cubism and 1920s art.There is nothing frosty however, about the enthusiastic staff and bartenders who ensure your evening of cocktails is perfectly facilitated. The cocktail menu is locally renowned and strives to fuse traditional drinks and flavourings with fresh and pioneering new approaches to mixology, featuring exclusive vintages and limited edition champagnes, spirits and liqueurs. The Connaught Bar operates a no reservation policy, so stop by early to ensure you get the best seat in the house.

The Umbrella Workshop

Located on a cobbled lane just off Boundary Street (Shoreditch) the team have sensitively restored the space to create a unique setting for their interactive cocktail experience. Bringing their online shop to life in the form of a new bar, which people can literally shop in, the hybrid system allows customers to try cocktails before they buy them. Visitors to Umbrella Workshop can experience a daily changing menu that will act as an incubator for their latest drinks development, with the most popular cocktails then appearing on the menus of their sister sites, Discount Suit Company (see below) and The Sun Tavern. With just 12 seats, this intimate drinking spot is a hidden gem amongst bustling Shoreditch and perfectly located for pre-dinner cocktails before heading off to local favourites, Brat, St John and Rochelle Canteen.

Its small but perfectly formed. The Umbrella Workshop in Shoreditch has been a big hit since it launched in early 2022

El Camion

Quench your thirst in Soho’s hip El Camion bar. The interior is both sultry and jazzy, with vibrant artworks hanging on the walls and bewitching patterns adorning the various surfaces and furnishings. The bar holds nightly events that focus on a particular drink or form of entertainment: DJ’s frequent the bar on Fridays and Saturdays, catering to a fun loving crowd of weekend partygoers. The menu offers a multitude of Mexican beers and cocktails; try the Cadillac Margarita, made from Olmeca Altos Reposado Tequila, lemon juice, triple sec and a grand marnier float. El Camion also boasts an impressive collection of tequilas, with over 300 different varieties.

Mr Fogg’s

Located at various spots around London, and with new bars on the way, Mr Fogg’s takes inspiration from the intrepid exploits of fictional explorer Phileas Fogg. Guests are invited to take a stroll into a fantastical rendering of Victorian London. The venues are full of all manner of anthropological artefacts, from enormous palm trees to hunting trophies but each one has a unique spin on things. You might not be able to go around the world in 80 days, but you will be able to go around the city with regular stops at this series of hangouts.

One of the newest Mr Fogg’s venues in London is the Apothecary on Brooks Street in Mayfair

Nightjar

Enter Shoreditch’s award winning Nightjar bar, where enjoying flavoursome cocktails and partaking of delicate food are the only requirements. Nightjar’s broad range of drinks have been inspired by different periods and events in drinking culture, including pre-prohibition, prohibition and post-war cocktails. Enjoy the delectable Brown Derby: Bulleit bourbon, freshly squeezed pomelo, grenadine, bee pollen syrup and the sweet tartness of pickled berries. The interior is decked out in low, ambient lighting and the furnishings a distinguished collection of dark wood and red pieces, lending the establishment a brooding elegance. Bookings for large groups of partygoers can be made via email and the venue can be hired privately for more intimate gatherings.

Discount Suit Company

Discount Suit Company was the first bar from The Umbrella Project, a creative team of drinks industry insiders founded by Andy Kerr, Stephen Thompson and Alastair Tatton. The trio’s first venture was born out of a shared commitment to immaculately crafted classic cocktails and a desire to create an effortlessly stylish venue in an exciting and eclectic part of town. A small but perfectly formed wine list includes red, white, rosé, and sparkling wines options curated by Provisions London alongside a House Lager, Umbrella London Ginger Beer and Rhubarb Cider, made by sister company Umbrella London, based on Holloway Road. Cheeses, olives and nuts are sourced from Provisions.

Coyote Ugly Saloon

Without wanting to get too philosophical here, what exactly is “style” anyway? To some the idea of Daisy Duke shorts and double denim isn’t cool, but to others its the height of fashion. Ultimately, when talking about bars and places to go for a good time, there are a multitude of factors that go into making a venue work. Camden’s already got a reputation as an edgy part of town, and this rollicking new addition is a welcome bit of fun where everyone is having a good time. What we like is the fact that everyone is dressed up, partly in homage to the movie inspiration behind the bar but also with a hint of concern that they will be pulled up onto the bar with an expectation of delivering a dance routine at the drop of a Stetson. Oh, and they do mean cocktails here too…

Additional reporting by Cassam Looch

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