Keeping track of the best bars in London is basically an impossible task. New ones pop up and go again all the time, from craft beer haunts to speakeasy gin bars, wine rooms and everything in between. Still, in no particular order, here’s a list of 15 of the best bars in London right now. Most of them serve good food as well.
1. The Kensington Wine Rooms
Starting off in West London, The Kensington Wine Rooms offer 150 bottles and 40 wines by the glass, each of which pairs well with at least one dish from the British and modern European food menu. Listen in awe as the bar staff seem to know literally everything about the wines available then sit back and soak up these relaxed but sophisticated pub vibes. Great for a casual meet with your friends or a cosy night with the other half.
When to go: Early evening at the weekend for a casual glass of wine with your dinner
What to drink: Depends what you’re eating, but a Bordeaux never fails
Atmosphere: Being Kensington, expect a calm sophistication
Address: 127-129 Kensington Church, London, W8 7LP
Price: Anywhere between £10-20 for a large glass
2. The Princess Victoria
Originally built in 1829 as a lavish gin palace, this London beauty is the perfect place to take a special someone for an elegant dinner or drinks. It’s been one of our best bars in London for quite some time just because it’s so, well, London-y, with high ceilings and golden beer taps, open fireplaces and leather chairs. Not really the type of bar for a night out, mind, more for a casual few drinks in the evening or on a Sunday.
When to go: A chilled weeknight meal or drinks and a nibble at the weekend
What to drink: Black Tomato gin. It’s made with sea water
Atmosphere: Friendly and usually busy
Address: 217 Uxbridge Road, Uxbridge, London W12 9DH
Price: About £7 for a G&T
3. Momento Lounge Bar
Good bars in London tend to have a solid beer garden, and the one at Momento Lounge Bar on Shoreditch High Street is just that. There’s decking, many plants and plenty of space to keep dry when the inevitable London rain comes, all of which makes for a good place to sit and enjoy a properly good selection of cocktails and wines, as well as beers ranging from Belgian brews to IPAs. Final note: it’s nice inside, too, making Momento a good place for a get-together.
When to go: Friday or Saturday for peak Momento
What to drink: A Tokyo Ice Tea contains gin, vodka, Cointreau, Midori & rum
Atmosphere: Chilled in the day, potential for a party later on
Address: 23-24 Shoreditch High Street, London E1 6PG
Price: The aforementioned ice tea is a tenner
4. Milk & Honey
Milk & Honey Soho makes it onto pretty much every list of the best bars in London. And so it should, being the extremely chic Soho institution that it is. Established in 2002, it’s a grown-up sort of place with a drinks list of exceptionally high quality, and if you’re not a member you’ll have to make a reservation before you’re allowed in. There are bars on three floors for you to choose your spot accordingly, a grazing menu should feel like a nibble and a set of very appropriate house rules. Milk & Honey is not for any old occasion.
When to go: Whenever you feel like an escape
What to drink: Bartender’s Choice – a bespoke cocktail just for you
Atmosphere: Relaxed, refined, full of like minded bar goers
Address: 61 Poland Street, London, W1F 7NU
Price: A Bartender’s Choice is £10
5. Doodle Bar
Doodle Bar is exactly what it says on the tin. A bar where you can eat, drink and, well, doodle. You’d be surprised how much of a stress reliever all of this combined can be, which we suspect is why Doodle Bar is one of most popular in London. The Doodle burgers are hot stuff whether you eat meat or not and the bar is a specialist in gin – 20 different types, to be precise. If a unique warehouse space with a whole wall dedicated to doodling is what you’re after, this chilled London bar is the best there is.
When to go: Try and catch an exhibit or an event
What to drink: A bottle of beer is best if you’re doodling
Atmosphere: Fun with a lot going on
Address: 60 Druid St, London, SE1 2EZ
Price: Cheap by London standards
6. The Lion
The Lion doesn’t believe in frills, just a proper London pub vibe with lots of good food and drink. Nobody said this best bar business had to be complicated, after all. In Whitechapel, The Lion finds the balance between traditional and contemporary, both in terms of decor and in terms of food, which makes it feel effortless. Standing at the bar with a pint of local ale in hand is possible, as is finding yourself a corner to sit and people watch as you’re digesting your beer battered fish and chips.
When to go: Any day when all you want is a pub lunch
What to drink: Try the guest ales
Atmosphere: Classic modern pub vibes
Address: 31 Houndsditch, Whitechapel, EC3A 7DB
Price: A pint will be £4-5
7. Craft Tooting
No prizes for guessing where Craft Tooting is and what it serves. This little haunt is Tooting’s first craft beer shop and bar, run by Tooting residents, for Tooting residents. There’s beers from breweries large and small – just by the bottle or can for now but with certain brews available on tap very, very soon – so it doesn’t matter whether you like it light or dark or strong or mild, there’ll be a beer to suit you here. One of our best bars in London because it doesn’t try to be anything it’s not, head to Craft Tooting for one of the finest craft selections in the city.
When to go: A spontaneous Saturday afternoon
What to drink: Anything
Atmosphere: Like a used bookshop for beer
Address: 1, Broadway Market Tooting, 29 Tooting High St, London SW17 0RJ
Price: Bottled craft beer prices vary a lot
8. Champagne Charlies
Under The Arches of Charing Cross, Champagne Charlies is a wine bar first and foremost. One that exudes old-world charm by the bucket load thanks to low ceilings and plenty of exposed wood, and one that also makes for a rather perfect spot to sit and enjoy the best of British cuisine. Champagne Charlies serve an impressive selection of wine and plenty that are available for tastings, but beer-lovers won’t be disappointed as there’s a great selection of ales as well, served in pewter jugs for old-world feels. If we had to describe Champagne Charlies it would be cosy, so we’ll leave it up to you to decide what sort of occasion this makes it good for.
When to go: It’s great in the week for dinner and drinks
What to drink: The draught beers here are good, but the wine cellar is better
Atmosphere: A definite gastropub feel
Address: 17 The Arches, Villiers Street, Covent Garden, WC2N 6NG
Price: A large glass of red is about £8
9. Eve Bar
Eve Bar is a pretty new kid on the Covent Garden block but has already become one the best bars for cocktails in Central London. It’s one of the coolest bars we know of in terms of decor and atmosphere and the Eve Bar slogan is a pretty catchy one as well: resist everything except temptation. More important than all of that, however, is that the mixology at Eve Bar knows no bounds and the menu of bar bites to go along with the drinks is exceptional. Frog popcorn with garlic or cheese and truffle doughnuts, anyone?
When to go: Weeknights for intimacy, Friday or Saturday nights once it’s dark
What to drink: Choose from Eve’s cocktail list
Atmosphere: Dark and mysterious
Address: 34-35 Southampton Street, London, WC2E 7HF
Price: A cocktail will be around a tenner
10. Del 74
Drinks and tacos are the name of the game at Del 74, and what a combo they are. With two locations in London, one in Dalston and one in Clapton, you can eat at Del 74 for brunch or dinner (or both) and enjoy gourmet tacos that hit the spot. If you want to make the most of £2 tacos and £5 margaritas then head to Del 75 for happy hour – Mon-Fri 5-7pm and weekends 4-7pm – or the bottomless brunch is £25 each but you get as many frozen margaritas as you can manage within an hour and a half. Del 74 isn’t here to play games.
When to go: Tuesday for tacos or any day for varying happy hour
What to drink: Frozen margaritas, obviously
Atmosphere: Friendly and Mexican, baby
Dalston address: 129 Kingsland High Street, London, E8 2PB
Clapton address: 87 Lower Clapton Road, Clapton, E5 0NP
Price: Cheap as corn chips
11. The Widow’s Son
The Widow’s Son is in the East End and rooted in history and stories. It’s one of those traditional pubs that you just need to be able to say you’ve been to, not least because it’s a Grade II listed building that’s almost too beautiful to look at. The bar itself is as heartwarming as they come in London and stocked full of ales and decent beers alongside plenty of quality spirits. Legend has it that the only son of the widow who used to live here went off to sea and never returned – hence the name – but fortunately there are no ghosts in sight.
When to go: There’s a live DJ on a Saturday or a roast dinner on Sunday
What to drink: Try some local East End brews
Atmosphere: Old-school public house, friendly and bustling
Address: 75 Devons Road, Poplar, London E3 3PJ
Price: Normal pub prices
Bethnal Green has itself a little stunner in Coupette, a French-style cocktail and Calvados bar that’s edgy yet elegant. It’s the brainchild of a former head bartender at The Savoy so it goes without saying that the tipple knowledge at Coupette is world-class, but with no five-star hotel formality. Instead, expect a chilled soundtrack and a cool crowd. The cocktail menu is conceptual, inspired by iconic French personalities and features a lot of Calvados, then there’s a decent French food menu should you get peckish. Bars in London don’t get much better.
When to go: Midweek for a tipple or nightcap
What to drink: Try the cognac-based Boardroom cocktail
Atmosphere: Speakeasy, non-judgy, cool
Address: 423 Bethnal Green Road, London, E2 0AN
Price: Cocktails vary from £8-10
13. Abbey Bar
Abbey Bar is a solid all-rounder for pretty much any occasion, whether that be after-work drinks, a business lunch or a birthday bash. It’s a big space, like, properly big, meaning you’ll be able to find some shape of nook or cranny to hide away in or soak up the vibes. In Aldgate, Abbey Bar is pretty central and so it attracts quite an eclectic crowd, and though it doesn’t really have an edgy theme to it, it’s one of our favourites in London because it actually succeeds in being all things to all people – not an easy feat.
When to go: Fridaze, every Friday. An extended happy hour followed by a party
What to drink: For a special occasion there are magnums and plenty of Champagne
Atmosphere: Chilled in the day, party at night
Address: 30-33 Minories, Aldgate, London, EC3 N1DD
Price: Signature cocktails under a tenner, same for a 250ml wine
14. Nuala Bar
When people think of Irish bars, more often than not they think of tourist spots over in hot European cities that aren’t particularly desirable. Nuala Bar, however, couldn’t be further from that. It’s one of the best bars in East London because it offers a slice of Ireland in a way we haven’t seen done before. Drinks are taken very seriously here, from a perfect pour of Guinness to signature cocktails and one of the largest collections of Irish whiskey in London. Then there’s Irish-style food and Irish trad bands playing on the reg. Perfect for a few.
When to go: The last few hours before closing on a weeknight
What to drink: A perfect pour of Guinness or a Red Stag house cocktail
Atmosphere: Humble and heartwarming
Address: 70-74 City Road, London, EC1Y 2BJ
Price: A Guinness is £5.50, the Red Stag is £15
15. Royal Standard
Last but by no means least, Royal Standard, on the corner of Star Street and Sale Place, is popular because it feels like a little underground haunt. Sit back on plush leather underneath low ceilings and choose from a wine and cocktail list that changes every month. It’s this that we love about Royal Standard, as your cocktails at Christmas will be far different from your cocktails in summer, meaning it’s never a bad time to pop in for a drink or two that will always hit the spot.
When to go: Perfect for a Saturday or Sunday afternoon
What to drink: There’s an elderflower prosecco that goes down a treat
Atmosphere: Homely and welcoming
Address: 8-9 Sale Place, Paddington, London, W2 1PH]
Price: You can eat and drink for under £20