The Coolest Bars and Pubs in Shoreditch

There's a bar for every night of the week in Shoreditch
There's a bar for every night of the week in Shoreditch | © Cath Harries / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Grace Beard
Assistant Editor27 June 2019

London’s East End hip neighbourhood Shoreditch is full of fabulously cool pubs and ultra-stylish bars. Secret passwords, hidden entrances and incongruous names are the norm for its speakeasies. The best bars in Shoreditch can be deliberately hard to find, but have no fear: we’ve got your ultimate guide to Shoreditch bars and pubs.

Find Callooh Callay at the back of a wardrobe

Bar, Cocktail Bar, European, Northern European, Seafood, Cajun, $$$
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Callooh Callay bar, Rivington Street, Shoreditch, London.
Callooh Callay Bar brings Narnia to Shoreditch | © Cath Harries / Alamy Stock Photo

Callooh Callay combines characteristic Shoreditch edge with the sophistication of the big city. The bar is dimly lit and Lewis Carroll-inspired, with plenty of quirky hidden surprises. There’s also decent bar grub available, including staples such as burgers and fries.

Visit Black Rock if your drink of choice is whisky

Bar, Cocktail Bar, Seafood, $$$
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Black Rock
The stylish Black Rock bar features an oak tree that's been filled with whisky and turned into a table | © Addie Chinn / Black Rock

With a solid whisky range and a huge oak tree table, Black Rock is the kind of rugged bar that Ron Swanson from NBC’s Parks and Recreation might frequent. While Ron might not opt for the oysters or gravlax, he’d probably be keen on the Scotch eggs.

Discover up-and-coming talent at Old Street Records

Bar, Cocktail Bar, Nightclub, Italian
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Old Street Records, located in the heart of Shoreditch’s main nightlife area, is a cocktail bar, nightclub, restaurant and live music venue. There’s entertainment every night of the week, ranging from DJ sets to a hip hop house band, alongside great pizzas and cocktails.

Look down on Old Street from Golden Bee

Bar, Cocktail Bar, British, $$$
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Golden Bee
Golden Bee is a popular rooftop bar located right next to Old Street station | Courtesy of Gosh Klimkiewicz
If you’re looking for cool rooftop bars in Shoreditch, look no further than Golden Bee. It’s a vibrant urban cocktail bar spread over three levels and has one of the best rooftop terraces in the area. There’s even a fancy VIP area for you and up to 50 guests.

Mull over the extensive cocktail menu at Found

Bar, Cocktail Bar, Contemporary, $$$
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Located in a basement on the wonderfully named Ravey Street, Found is a small bar with a huge cocktail menu. Apart from the superb cocktails, there is beer, wine and bubbles. However, if you’re looking for a hearty snack to accompany your drinks, this might not be the place to go, as the bar menu is limited to olives and jalapeño pretzels.

Get your footie on at Bar Kick

Bar, Pub Grub, $$$
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If you like your drinks with a side of healthy competition, this buzzy football-themed bar on Shoreditch High Street boasts two floors of foosball tables. Head to Bar Kick during happy hour for their cheap Portuguese house beer or watch a game on one of its big screens.

Take a seat among trinkets and treasures in Bull in a China Shop

Bar, Cocktail Bar, Asian, European, British, Fusion, $$$
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There’s a rustic wooden feel to Bull in a China Shop, where the bar is characterised by beams and panels – and a vast whisky selection. All sorts of quirky artefacts are dotted around the venue, including booths lined with chess pieces, porcelain cows and an elaborate bull-head door knocker. Food is also on offer, and the rotisserie chicken is a must-try.

Marvel at the quirky design elements in Commercial Tavern

Bar, Cocktail Bar, Pub, Italian, $$$
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The commercial Tavern, Shoreditch, London.
Enjoy authentic pub vibes at The Commercial Tavern | © onebluelight.com / Alamy Stock Photo

Located on East London’s long Commercial Street, the Commercial Tavern beautifully combines the atmosphere of a traditional English pub with trendy Shoreditch vibes. Downstairs, there’s a wholesome selection of diverse beers, while upstairs features a cocktail bar and raunchy Victorian photography lining the walls.

Experience Prohibition-style tipples at Nightjar

Bar, Cocktail Bar, Cafe, Contemporary, $$$
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Nightjar
Nightjar is tucked away behind a nondescript door in Shoreditch | | © Nightjar

Dimly lit Nightjar cultivates a culture clash between quintessential cocktail bar and old-school watering hole. Between this and the live music, mainly jazz and blues, this basement speakeasy has a real Prohibition-era feel. Enter the establishment through a nondescript door on City Road; look for the small nightjar plaque and you’ll know you’re in the right place.

Enjoy no-frills cocktails at Happiness Forgets

Bar, Cocktail Bar, Restaurant, Pub Grub, $$$
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Happiness Forgets, London
Happiness Forgets is well-known for its authentic vibe | Courtesy Happiness Forgets Bar
Easily one of the best cocktail bars in Shoreditch, Happiness Forgets is an intimate, candle-lit space located below a restaurant in Hoxton Square. Its discreet location offers visitors the perfect escape from the revelry above ground. With only a small space, it’s advisable to book ahead.

Share a giant cocktail with friends at Casa Blue

Bar, Cocktail Bar, Italian, $$$
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Found in the borderland between Shoreditch and Bethnal Green, Casa Blue is another cocktail bar rocking dim lighting, wooden panels and low sofa booths. It’s in a prime spot on the corner of Bethnal Green Road and Brick Lane, and draws in crowds for its great cocktail menu.

Discover the Looking Glass Cocktail Club behind a mirror

Bar, Cocktail Bar, British, $$$
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Looking Glass Cocktail Club
To get to the Looking Glass Cocktail Club, you have to pass through a mirror | | © Looking Glass Cocktail Club

Fans of secret bars will love the Looking Glass Cocktail Club, which sits between Shoreditch and its northern neighbour, Hoxton. It’s both a classy cocktail club and an eccentric drinking den, where visitors enter the hidden bar through a large mirror.

Attend unique events at Strongroom Bar

Bar, Cocktail Bar, Pub Grub, $$$
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Associated with East London’s Strongroom recording studios, the Strongroom Bar’s musical origins are clear for all to see, with quirky booths fashioned out of trunk cases and different themed nights held almost every night of the week. There’s an extensive drinks menu, including beers from local microbreweries, and a good selection of street food. When the sun comes out take a seat out in the courtyard and soak up the sun.

Enjoy pub grub at The Water Poet

Pub, Bar, Pub Grub, $$$
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56-3689359-143457860167e1e54b681844d2b49d65a7cdc4d3bf
Courtesy The Water Poet
Whether for its large, leafy courtyard, its multitude of rooms, its pool parlour or its basement cinema, The Water Poet is Shoreditch’s most loved pub. The place is pretty much always packed, and serves up pub grub every day of the week. Great for mingling and big groups.

Practice your ping-pong skills at Bounce Old Street

Bar, Pizzeria, Restaurant, American, $$$
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Bounce/Henry Hemming
Bounce/Henry Hemming | Flickr
If you haven’t heard of this Shoreditch ping pong bar by now, it’s time to get acquainted. A neon-lit bar with table tennis, pizza and great cocktails in abundance, Bounce is a guaranteed good time.
These recommendations were updated on June 27, 2019 to keep your travel plans fresh.