One of the best ways to explore London is by sipping your way through it.
I learned to bartend at a small bar in East London, and when I wasn’t behind the bar concocting something new, I was sipping my way around the city known for its love of a good drink. After all, London is home to some of the best cocktails in the world (it’s even where the espresso martini was invented). Hundreds of tastings later, these are the 10 best London cocktail bars I’ve discovered.
Top Picks for You
Jin Bo Law
WHERE: City of London
With some of the best skyline views in London, Jin Bo Law sits on the 14th floor of the luxurious Dorsett City Hotel. Some of London’s most beloved buildings like the Shard, the Gherkin, and the Walkie Talkie make for a beautiful backdrop for cocktails with a view. The cocktail menu uses unique ingredients read Japanese whiskey infused with cacao nibs and blue agave nectar with red chili.
A quirky neighborhood bar in Dalston, Pamela is a sun-soaked spot with a welcoming yellow neon sign outside and inside; walls are covered in photos of famous Pamela’s. Their menu is eclectic and changes seasonally. Think an elderflower and lilac gin sour for summer and a Christmas Pine Negroni during the holidays.
INSIDER TIPPamela has a DJ most weekends, making it a perfect vibey date night spot. Be sure to book a table.
At this East London cocktail bar, the lights are dimmed way down low, and candlelight fills the leather seat and wooden-tabled space. Nothing at High Water is overstated, so the cocktails talk here. For a London classic done well, reach for the Espresso Martini. If you’re feeling adventurous, opt for a signature like the Curry Quiri—a rum-based fragrant cocktail with coconut, lemongrass, and poblano chili.
WHERE: Various Locations
WHERE: Notting Hill
Located in the heart of Notting Hill on the famous Portobello Road, Trailer Happiness has been serving classic cocktails with a Tiki twist since 2003. Rum drinkers will love cocktails like the Espresso MarTiki, a rum twist on the vodka classic shaken with coffee liqueur and fresh coffee, and Jungle Fizz made with Appleton Estate rum bittersweet Campari, citrus, Pineapple soda.
Jazz swirls the room, and classic cocktails are done well at Bar Américain. The perfect place for a nightcap in Soho. To taste Paris’ famous drink with a modern twist, try the Gimlet made with tequila (instead of gin), mezcal, pepper, coriander, and a swirl of agave.
INSIDER TIPThis bar is walk-in only, so get there early, especially on weekends.
Savoy American Bar
WHERE: City of Westminster
A true London institution, the Savoy American Bar opened in London in 1889. The bar is home to some of the world’s best cocktails like the Hanky-Panky, a 1900s cocktail made from gin, sweet vermouth, and Fernet-Branca. And another gin favorite, Corpse Reviver No.2, was born here. Pull up a seat and let the Savoy Cocktail Book help you decide what to sip on.
WHERE: Bethnal Green
There’s always something new to look forward to trying with Three Sheet’s weekly-evolving menu. Located on Dalston’s high street, Kingsland Road, the bar is essential to the London cocktail scene. The menu has nine cocktails split into ‘three sheets’ and sometimes features classic cocktails like the Picante (Tequila, Pineapple, Ancho soda) and French 75 served straight from a champagne bottle.
Tucked until the arches of Queens Road Peckham station, Smokey Kudu is a sleek pink marble bar covered in vintage mirrors. The menu puts a South African twist on cocktails like Negronis and the Aperol Spritz. The Braai Negroni is made with mezcal, rooibos, and thyme, and the Kudu Spritz is a refreshing blend of Aperol, vermouth, and rooibos.