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, $$$
Callooh Callay combines characteristic Shoreditch edge with the sophistication of the big city. The bar is dimly lit and Lewis Carroll-inspired, with plenty of quirky hidden surprises. There’s also decent bar grub available, including staples such as burgers and fries.
With a solid whisky range and a huge oak tree table, Black Rock is the kind of rugged bar that Ron Swanson from NBC’s Parks and Recreation might frequent. While Ron might not opt for the oysters or gravlax, he’d probably be keen on the Scotch eggs.
Discover up-and-coming talent at Old Street Records
Bar, Cocktail Bar, Nightclub, Italian
Old Street Records, located in the heart of Shoreditch’s main nightlife area, is a cocktail bar, nightclub, restaurant and live music venue. There’s entertainment every night of the week, ranging from DJ sets to a hip hop house band, alongside great pizzas and cocktails.
Golden Bee is a popular rooftop bar located right next to Old Street station | Courtesy of Gosh Klimkiewicz
If you’re looking for cool rooftop bars in Shoreditch, look no further than Golden Bee. It’s a vibrant urban cocktail bar spread over three levels and has one of the best rooftop terraces in the area. There’s even a fancy VIP area for you and up to 50 guests.
Located in a basement on the wonderfully named Ravey Street, Found is a small bar with a huge cocktail menu. Apart from the superb cocktails, there is beer, wine and bubbles. However, if you’re looking for a hearty snack to accompany your drinks, this might not be the place to go, as the bar menu is limited to olives and jalapeño pretzels.
If you like your drinks with a side of healthy competition, this buzzy football-themed bar on Shoreditch High Street boasts two floors of foosball tables. Head to Bar Kick during happy hour for their cheap Portuguese house beer or watch a game on one of its big screens.
Take a seat among trinkets and treasures in Bull in a China Shop
Bar, Cocktail Bar, Asian, European, British, Fusion, $$$
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Those looking for a more sophisticated tipple will love this intimate Shoreditch wine bar. Alongside their extensive wine list, this chic, dimly lit bar serves up great pizza and pasta. The perfect date night spot.