Our Favourite London Bars for After-Work Drinks

Looking for a special somewhere to sip a sgroppino or nurse a negroni in London this summer? Here’s our pick of the bars to head for.

Be you seeking out a sophisticated Soho drinking den in which to nurse a negroni, scouring east London for a chilled-out spot for a bottle of wine with friends, or selecting an experimental bar with which to impress your latest date, check out our favourite addresses across the capital to visit in time for last orders.

Capital spots for an evening tipple: our favourite London cocktail bars

A cocktail at Sweeties in The Standard, Kings Cross, London
Image credit: Anton Rodriguez

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Sweeties

Kings Cross

Located 10 floors up, high above Kings Cross, with floor-to-ceiling windows offering jaw-dropping views across London's lights, this glitzy late-night lounge and discotheque has a strong party aesthetic. The menu - packed with feelgood pours - is split into three, with each category ("Mind", "Body" and "Soul") offering innovative concoctions infused with mood-boosting ingredients designed to get you up and under the disco ball. Order the pick me up (a blend of adaptogenic mushrooms, brown vodka, unctuous caramel, cacao and coffee) or the tart, lacto-rhubarb-spiked frothy boi, then switch to the dangerously addictive green velvet, made with white chocolate, mint and rum, before the clock strikes 12 and the late-night menu arrives.

Words by Lucy Kehoe

Address

10th Floor, 10 Argyle St WC1H 8EG

The downstairs interior at Bar Swift, Soho
Image credit: Addie Chinn

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Swift

Soho

Split into two distinct bars - an airy, upper space and a moody, subterranean joint - the award-winning Swift is a stop-off point for Soho's creative darlings. Upstairs, the light-filled space is home to an expansive list of balmy summer crowd-pleasers, with highlights including the citrussy sgroppino (lemon sorbet with St Germain and prosecco) and carmen, a tequila and lime sherbet blend. Head downstairs and you'll find a dimly lit, slow-paced whisky house, where the air is thick with hazy whispers and the hypnotic strum of live guitar music. The current menu is an ode to legends past and present. If you only order one drink, make it the dastardly early american, a nutty, toffeed pour that sees Jack Daniel's No.7 whiskey muddled with maple, chocolate bitters and blackstrap rum, inspired by the dulcet crooning of Frank Sinatra.

Words by Lucy Kehoe

Address

12 Old Compton Street Soho W1D 4TQ

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The Blind Pig

Soho

Found above Jason Atherton's delectable restaurant Social Eating House, The Blind Pig is one of the best speakeasies in London. Make for Soho's Poland Street, look under the antique "optician" sign and clang the blindfolded hog door-knocker to gain entry. Inside, peruse a cocktail list modelled on children's literature. We recommend trying the kindergarten cup (Skittles mixed with Ketel One vodka) or Robin Hood, quince of thieves (brandy, quince liqueur and mead). For something a little more mature, the pub grub-style bar snacks have all the flair of the food served downstairs.

Words by Gilly Hopper

Address

58 Poland Street W1F 7NR

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The Berkeley Bar & Terrace

Knightsbridge

Hidden at the back of The Berkeley, this might be the most secretive terrace in Knightsbridge. Sleek interiors - characterised by velvet marshmallow pouffes and salvaged walnut-wood panels - create the perfect environment for a tête-à-tête and tequila. If the bar space is full, sip cocktails or a rare whisky in The Snug - a secluded Bryan O'Sullivan-designed hideaway dominated by a large-scale abstract mural featuring women's faces by New York-based artist TM Davy.

Words by Gilly Hopper

Address

The Berkeley Wilton Place Knightsbridge SW1X 7RL

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Tayēr + Elementary

Old Street

Tayēr + Elementary has been setting the London cocktail scene aflutter. The front-facing Elementary is housed in an industrial space - all exposed vents and floor-to-ceiling windows - with the action centred around a single, long, wooden bar. Order the palo santo gimlet (gin, sherry, Lillet Blanc and a cordial flavoured with South American wood) if you fancy something with a smoky taste. For a more experimental drinking experience, slide behind a concrete wall imprinted with jars and glasses to Tayēr (Spanish for "workshop").

Words by Gilly Hopper

Address

152 Old Street EC1V 9BW

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Gosnells of London

Peckham

As London's only bar dedicated to mead (a spirit made from fermented honey), Gosnells is a noteworthy drinking den. Order the signature meadhattan - a blend of barrel-aged mead with gin, honey and bitters - and pair it with small plates from the Coal Rooms kitchen, downstairs. Should you develop a liking for the fermented spirit, Gosnells also hosts mead master classes, honey tastings and food-pairing workshops.

Words by Gilly Hopper

Address

Unit 2 Print Village Chadwick Road SE15 4PU

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The Drop, Kings Cross

From the Harts Group - the people behind Barrafina and Quo Vadis - comes The Drop, which takes its name from both the bar's location, in Coal Drops Yard, and the colloquial term for a measure of wine. Small and intimate, this is a great spot for a round or three with friends. In the pomp-free, cave-like space, guests choose from a simple menu of 20 reds and 20 whites, plus a handful of rosé, orange and fortified wines. We suggest grabbing a seat at the bar counter, or, if you're with a bigger group, a table in a candlelit corner.

Words by Gilly Hopper

Address

Unit 22-24 N1C 4DH

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Hacha, Dalston

Mezcal has elbowed its way onto some of London's best bar menus in the past few years, but Hacha - London's only agaveria - has pledged its total devotion to the Mexican spirit. Inside the bright, café-like space, you'll spot 25 bottles of the stuff numbered and racked up on the shelf. Reinventing familiar cocktails with a kick of tequila or mezcal, this is the place to get to grips with the nuances of this feisty spirit. Order the signature colada - a creamy blend of sultana-infused Añejo, horchata and chargrilled pineapple capped with toasted coconut - and then kick back with a plate of tacos.

Words by Gilly Hopper

Address

378 Kingsland Road E8 4AA

This article was updated on the 4 May 2022.

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