Tales and tipples: What are the best bars in London?

London is a city where the clinking of glasses and the infectious laughter of night owls fill the air, where hidden corners and bustling streets alike house myriad watering holes. In other words, no matter where you turn here, you’re sure to find a pub!

In fact, we’re talking about the best ones we know today. So, ready your taste buds and prepare for a sip of sophistication as we sip, savour, and share the secrets of the city’s most remarkable watering holes. 

DUKES Bar

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Location: 35 St. James’s Pl, St. James’s, London SW1A 1NY, United Kingdom

Contact: +44 20 7491 4840

Website: https://www.dukeshotel.com 

DUKES Bar delivers an unparalleled Martini experience, standing out with its unique approach and exceptional service. The world-class bartender team crafts personalized cocktails, showcasing meticulous expertise that ensures a refined and unforgettable drinking experience. The establishment’s connection to Ian Fleming’s legacy not only infuses a sense of nostalgia but also elevates the ambiance with sophistication.

The heart of DUKES Bar lies in its distinctive approach to cocktail service. The bar is renowned for its tableside martini service, where a trolley is skillfully maneuvered to create bespoke concoctions for patrons. This innovative and interactive element adds a dynamic touch to the overall experience, making it not just a drink but a captivating performance.

The attention to detail and commitment to excellence extend beyond the cocktails. The bar itself becomes a focal point, where the expertly crafted libations take center stage. The ambiance is elevated by the seamless blend of classic and contemporary elements, creating an inviting space that beckons both connoisseurs and casual patrons alike.

Nightjar

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Location: 129 City Rd, London EC1V 1JB, United Kingdom

Contact: [email protected]

Website

Nightjar’s interior design pays homage to the speakeasies of the Prohibition era, effortlessly blending vintage elegance with contemporary style. Dimly lit, with plush seating and ornate chandeliers casting a warm glow, the bar sets the stage for an enchanting evening.

While every drink at Nightjar is an experience in itself, a few gems have become their signature offerings. The “Old Cuban” is a delightful fusion of aged rum, champagne, lime, mint, and bitters, serving as a testament to Nightjar’s ability to revive forgotten classics. 

Meanwhile, the “Pollination” takes your taste buds on a journey, combining honeyed notes of gin, chamomile, and elderflower with a splash of citrus and bee pollen. 

Happiness Forgets

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Location: 8-9 Hoxton Square, London N1 6NU, United Kingdom

Contact: [email protected]

Website

Happiness Forgets embraces an unassuming and intimate design that invites you to leave the world behind and immerse yourself in the moment. 

At the heart of Happiness Forgets lies a deep appreciation for the roots of mixology. The bar pays homage to the classics while embracing the spirit of innovation. 

The “Penicillin” is a harmonious blend of Scotch whisky, ginger, honey, and a hint of peat, delivering a delightful balance of smoky and sweet notes.

But if you have a penchant for refreshing libations, the “Waterloo Sunset” is a sublime choice, featuring gin, elderflower liqueur, citrus, and a touch of cucumber. 

Callooh Callay

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Location: 65 Rivington St, London EC2A 3QQ, United Kingdom

Contact: +44 20 7739 4781

Website

Callooh Callay has an unassuming entrance where you’ll find yourself transported to a realm that effortlessly blends eclectic charm with contemporary style. 

The bar’s design is a testament to its playful spirit, with quirky touches, eye-catching artwork, and a delightful sense of whimsy that permeates every corner.

Among Callooh Callay’s extensive repertoire of libations, a few standout creations have solidified their status as fan favourites. The “Jabberwocky” cocktail is a delightful fusion of gin, apricot brandy, lime, and peach bitters, harmonizing fruity notes with a zesty kick. 

For those seeking a touch of elegance, the “Caviar Martini” offers a luxurious experience, combining vodka, dry vermouth, and a delicate spoonful of caviar for a burst of indulgence. 

Swift Soho

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Location: 12 Old Compton St, London W1D 4TQ, United Kingdom

Contact: [email protected]

Website

The roots of Swift Soho can be traced back to the classic bars of New York and Paris, where the founders drew inspiration to create an oasis in the heart of London. 

The result is a harmonious fusion of international influences, with a distinctly British twist. It’s this perfect blend of tradition and innovation that has earned Swift Soho its esteemed reputation.

The cocktail menu at Swift Soho reads like a love letter to mixology enthusiasts. From the velvety smoothness of their Old Fashioned to the tangy kick of their signature Collins, every sip is an experience to savour.

The Connaught Bar

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Location: The Connaught, Connaught, 16 Carlos Pl, London W1K 2AL, United Kingdom

Contact: +44 20 7314 3419

Website

From polished glassware to precisely measured ingredients, every element has been carefully curated to elevate your time within the Connaught Bar.

Now, let’s dive into the realm of the best sellers – the libations that have garnered accolades and captured the hearts of those fortunate enough to experience them.

Whether you crave the smoky complexity of their signature Martini or the citrus burst of their iconic Connaught Cobbler, each sip is a revelation, a symphony of flavours dancing upon your palate.

Artesian

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Location: 1C Portland Pl, London W1B 1JA, United Kingdom

Contact: +44 20 7636 1000

Website

Artesian traces its roots back to the celebrated Langham Hotel, where it found its home in 2007. Since then, it has become a beacon of excellence in the world of cocktails, winning numerous awards and accolades along the way. 

Each sip at Artesian is an adventure and a revelation of flavours that entice the senses. Be it their famed Bees Knees, a harmonious blend of gin, honey, and aromatic lemon, or their avant-garde creations push the boundaries of taste.

Coupette

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Location: 423 Bethnal Green Rd, London E2 0AN, UK

Contact: +44 20 7729 9562

Website

Rooted in French tradition, Coupette pays homage to the iconic French drinking culture, infusing it with a touch of British flair. It’s a harmonious marriage of two worlds, resulting in a truly unique experience. 

The Coupette is known for its signature Champagne Pina Colada, a delightful twist on a tropical classic, to its renowned Apple Strudel Flip, a warm and comforting blend of apple brandy and spices, every sip is an adventure in taste.

Purl London

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Location: 50-54 Blandford St, London W1U 7HX, United Kingdom

Contact: +44 20 7935 0835

Website

The moment you step into Purl London, you are transported to a bygone era of speakeasies and clandestine indulgence. The bar’s design is a nod to the past, exuding an intimate and mysterious ambience.

Drawing inspiration from the classic speakeasies of the Prohibition era, Purl London pays homage to the rebellious spirit of the past while infusing it with a modern sensibility.

They are known for their Smoking Plum Negroni, where a hint of smokiness dances with the bittersweet notes of plum. We also recommend their Lavender Martini!

Experimental Cocktail Club

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Location: 13a Gerrard St, London W1D 5PT, United Kingdom

Contact: [email protected]

Website

Stepping into the Experimental Cocktail Club is like entering a clandestine haven.  Think exposed brick walls, moody lighting, and an eclectic blend of furnishings.

Their enchanting Green Beast is a must-try, an absinthe-based elixir with a refreshing twist of cucumber and lime. We also love the sophisticated complexity of their Ambergris Boulevardier.

The Clumsies

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Location: 29A Wentworth St, London E1 7TB, United Kingdom

Contact: +44 20 7247 8755

Website

The Clumsies trace back to Athens, Greece, where the first incarnation of this iconic bar was born. Inspired by their success, the founders expanded their vision to London, bringing with them a distinct approach to mixology. 

Now, let’s raise a glass to the best sellers at The Clumsies – the libations that have captured the hearts and palates of discerning patrons. 

From their signature Clumsies Martini (gin, vermouth, and a secret twist) to their whimsical and refreshing Electric Daisy Sour, the menu is a testament to the bar’s innovative spirit.

Sager + Wilde

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Location: 193 Hackney Rd, London E2 8JL, United Kingdom

Contact: +44 20 8127 7330

Website

Venturing into Sager + Wilde, you’re greeted by a design that seamlessly blends modern elegance with rustic allure. Picture warm wooden accents, and carefully curated furnishings that invite you to sink into an atmosphere of relaxed sophistication.

At Sager + Wilde, each drink is a testament to the craftsmanship and attention to detail. We  particularly love their classic and well-balanced Old Fashioned, where rich bourbon mingles with aromatic bitters and a touch of sweetness.

Bar Termini

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Location: 7 Old Compton St, London W1D 5JE, United Kingdom

Contact:  +44 7860 945018

Website

Inspired by the bustling cafés found near train stations in Italy, Bar Termini seeks to recreate that exhilarating spirit in the heart of London. Each sip here seeks to transport you to the bustling streets of Rome or the charming piazzas of Florence. 

Try their signature Negroni, where bitter Campari dances with sweet vermouth and gin. We also recommend their delightful Aperol Spritz – it embodies the spirit of Italian summers.

Three Sheets

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Location:  510b Kingsland Rd, London E8 4AB, United Kingdom

Contact:  +44 7718 648771

Website

Three Sheets is an aptly named haven where style and comfort intertwine, setting the stage for a memorable drinking experience. 

Their signature drink is the Tom Collins, sparkling with zesty citrus and botanical notes. We also love their innovative and ever-evolving seasonal creations.

The Bar with No Name

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Location: 69 Colebrooke Row, London N1 8AA, United Kingdom

Contact: +44 7540 528593

Website

This bar is famous for “The Enigmatic Elixir”, a blend of aged rum, smoked spices, and a hint of citrus that dances on the tongue, leaving a lingering sense of mystery. 

Another standout is “The Forbidden Concoction”, an alluring fusion of gin, elderflower liqueur, fresh herbs, and a touch of absinthe, which creates an intriguing balance of flavours that captivate the senses. 

Cahoots

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Location: 13 Kingly Ct, Carnaby, London W1B 5PW, United Kingdom

Contact: +44 20 7352 6200

Website

Deeply rooted in the fabric of London’s history, Cahoots pays homage to the indomitable spirit of its people during the tumultuous 1940s. It captures the essence of a time when adversity was met with resilience, community, and an unyielding spirit of celebration.

Here, you can experience live music performances, swing dance lessons, and even see the occasional lively cabaret show. 

For the drinks, we like “Spiv’s Espresso Martini”, which is a rich blend of coffee liqueur, vodka, and a touch of maple syrup, awakening your senses with a delightful caffeine kick. 

But if you’re seeking a refreshing libation, the “Gin & IT” combines the elegance of gin with vermouth and a hint of orange bitters, resulting in a harmonious symphony of flavours.

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