The 15 Best Outdoor Bars In LondonBecause sometimes the pub garden just doesn’t cut it.
As Londoners, we rarely have to ask ourselves where to drink outside because the answer is always, unequivocally, the pub garden. But sometimes you want something more than a picnic bench by the side of the A406. Sometimes you want to sit with the sun on your face, the wind in your hair, and an excellent cocktail in hand. That’s where these bars come in. From a little coffee shop turned excellent Friday night cocktail spot, to a huge beach-style rooftop bar in Bethnal Green, these are the places to hit up for an ice-cold cocktail on London’s sunny days.
Ever reached the top of a multi-storey car park and thought to yourself, “now what this place really needs is a Campari bar?”. The guys at Frank’s in Peckham did and they’ve converted said car park into a rooftop bar for the ages. You can see the entire London skyline, there’s masses of room to sprawl with a crew, tasty food, and excellent (and reasonably priced) drinks, including Aperols and negronis. The queue can be agonisingly long past 7pm—so arrive early.
Goldfinch in Tooting is the kind of bar that everyone wants on the corner of their street. Not only does this place have a charming back garden hidden from the main road and serve one of the best negronis in London, it also has that proper laid-back neighbourhood atmosphere that makes it perfect for a first date or a low-key birthday.
Bar Crispin is first and foremost a wine bar. But amid all the orange wine and natural stuff, it’s also home to a winning negroni. The cocktail menu is short, sharp, and classic. There’s only a vesper martini and a negroni on offer so if you’re on the hunt for somewhere with an encyclopaedic collection of spirits, move along. But if your priorities lie with enjoying a classic cocktail on a Soho pavement terrace that buzzes with life and stories traded over cigarettes, then Bar Crispin is it. Also, it has blankets. A classy touch.
Private beach clubs are essential in the summer. Well, they are for people who live in places that have access to beaches that don’t involve confronting a Hyde Park swan. But if you’re after that whole pastel cushions and pass-me-the-towel look then Skylight, a huge rooftop bar in Peckham, has got you covered. You’re here for the sunset views and casually taking a selection of thirst-trap pictures with your spritz. There’s often live music in the bar inside, which yes, will also make for an excellent background cocktail content soundtrack.
There are multiple floors of boozy fun going on at The Exhibit in Balham, with several outdoor options. You’ve got the intimate mezzanine terrace which is perfect for a spritz-fuelled first date. There’s the covered roof terrace which is ideal for people who enjoy a nutty mai tai but who are also weather realists. And there’s the big garden out front which is just made for groups of inebriated people who really just want to sit down. The Exhibit also has a happy hour, so if two-for-one lychee martinis sound like your kind of thing, head on over between 4-8pm.
If you’ve read anything on this website regarding drinking, nice spaces, or drinking in really nice spaces, then you’ll know that we’re big fans of The Coral Room inside The Bloomsbury Hotel. And this sophisticated hotel is also home to Dalloway Terrace. The outdoor space has such an abundance of fake flowers, if you squint really hard you could almost convince yourself you’re at the Chelsea Flower Show. Especially once you’ve had a tom collins or two. Much like its indoor sister bar, the cocktails are on the pricey side at this Bloomsbury spot but it’s just the place if you want sophisticated sips rather than drinking chants.
Chiringuito is a beach-style rooftop bar overlooking Bethnal Green station, which arguably sounds like the worst vacation ever but in practice is kind of great. So great, in fact, that we once spent several hours here in the middle of a rare London heatwave and drank so many mezcal cocktails that we wound up doing karaoke at a local pub. If the drinks are good enough to have you performing a rousing rendition of The Winner Takes It All by 10pm, you know you’re onto a good thing. But if you’re looking to keep things casual, know that you can also hit this place up for small plates and a round of margaritas in the sunshine on a Sunday afternoon.
You know those Instagram posts you see of some glamorous London rooftop bar that has glorious personal igloos? And you look at it and think “one day I will go there.” Well, that bar is Aviary. It’s got those famed igloos we’ve clocked in countless TV shows, but it’s actually far from the tourist trap you might think it is. For starters, the cocktails are seriously good, the views of the City are second-to-none, and it’s one of the few alfresco cocktail situations that’s smart enough for a business drink. Although as you might have guessed, this place is très pricey.
Admission time: the food at Double Standard is bang average. Luckily, you’re not here for fried cauliflower bites are you? No, you’re here for cocktails and that’s something this place does really, really well. On the ground floor of modern acid-dream hotel The Standard, London, this bar and terrace is all about classic cocktails and not-so-classic slushy Aperol spritzes. Hello hangover. It’s a bright and colourful '70s-inspired space that’s just as perfect for after-work drinks with the team as for a first date. If you’re looking for something a bit more special, it’s also worth noting that there’s a cocktail lounge on the hotel’s roof terrace, with spectacular views across London and spicy margaritas.
If you’re looking to have a good time in Battersea, you go to Northcote Records. This live music venue and energetic bar is all about strong cocktails, loud music, and lapping up those sacred moments of London sunshine. Packed with picnic benches and parasols, the big pavement beer garden has the feeling of a proper street party. You know, the kind you walk past and think, 'mojito?'. It also serves lageritas, involving half a lager with a frozen margarita, and 10/10 passionfruit daiquiris.
Sure, this place might have wine in its name but it serves five types of negroni, bicicletas, and something called Peckham Pear Drop. A rooftop bar in Peckham, Forza Wine is just as serious about its cocktails as it is about its wine. Expect frozen mojitos, panoramic views of south London, and tasty Italian small plates in case you get hungry.
Are you even a Londoner if you’ve never been to a friend’s cousin’s birthday party at Pergola? Yes, undoubtedly you’ve probably been to this huge outdoor booze palace at some point to celebrate someone, drink something, and stare in the bathroom mirror wondering quite how you managed to get this pissed by 4pm. The cynics among us might dismiss this sprawling foliage-packed bar as a little basic, but realistically you can’t beat its particular brand of feel-good vacation hype for a big group hang. The frosé slushies don’t hurt either.
The Prince is Pergola’s little brother. A huge converted pub-cum-giant drinking hall, this place is perfect for important business like drinking jugs of Pimm’s on a weeknight and contemplating whether this is where The Famous Five would have gone for their 18th birthday. A no-brainer for affordable celebrations, catch-ups over caipirinhas, or a West London sesh, The Prince is probably one to skip if you’re looking for an intimate date night drink.
Cahoots is a 1940s-inspired bar in Soho and it’s very committed to the theme. Yes, it’s a little corny but when it comes to needing an alfresco cocktail in Soho that doesn’t taste like the tears of Pat Butcher, it’s a useful place to know about. The outdoor seating behind Carnaby Street isn’t as much of a D-Day extravaganza as indoors, so what you’re left with is nice vintage chairs, top liquor-heavy cocktails, and an upbeat atmosphere. Our personal favourite is the smoky Off The Rails number.
By day, Scootercaffe is a chill coffee spot where you’ll see people nodding along to the ‘60s soundtrack while they get some emails done. By night, it becomes an Italian take on your classic dive bar with a back garden that demands a round of Campari cocktails. There’s nothing fancy going on. Just a few simple tables, views over Waterloo station, and if the cuteness odds are in your favour, you’ll see the cafe’s cat climbing along the roof tiles.