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, lounges, boîtes and ratskellars, offering locals and tourists alike the opportunity to kick back and enjoy a few drinks. Check out our guide to the 10 best cocktail bars in London, perfect spots in which to start the evening or stay and while away the night.
Nestled in the hallowed halls of the Langham Hotel, the Artesian Bar has been hailed the ‘world’s best bar’ by Drinks International. Head Bartender, Alex Kratena, is a multi-award winning asset to the establishment, bringing influences and flavours from the many cultures he’s experienced to his unique mixology style. 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.
Artesian Bar, Langham Hotel, 1C Portland Place, London, W1B 1JA, UK, +44 207 636 1000
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.
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.
In the Union Street Bar in Borough, quality and downtown elegance prevail. Relax in one of the bar’s cosy corners where intimate conversation can be enjoyed alongside excellent cocktails, evoking flavours of the Mediterranean in the heart of London. The exposed walls of the bar and sensitive, low lighting provide the venue with an easy sophistication. Choose the Southwark Angel, made with Tanqueray Gin, green Chartreuse, cucumber and a squeeze of lemon juice or go for the quintessentially British Harlequin Tea Set, with Beefeater gin, crème de cassis, earl grey syrup and Regan’s orange bitters. Enjoy this eclectic selection of drinks alongside the bar’s list of upmarket snacks, from balsamic beef meatballs to green sweet fried peppers.
With a name derived from Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky, Shoreditch’s Callooh Callay is a hidden sanctuary of quiet cosiness where excellent cocktails are available in abundance. The Victorian themed venue is divided into the main bar, the lounge (where tables can be booked for up to eight people) and the upstairs bar, where autumn and winter cocktails are concocted. The drinks menu boasts some tempting beverages; opt for the Quince of the Stone Sage cocktail, constructed from roasted apricots mixed with sage and combined with Ketel One vodka, Briottet quince liqueur, lime juice and bitters. For ravenous cocktail consumers, there is also a hearty food menu where a selection of nibbles and bar snacks can be purchased.