19 London Bars You Can Book For Your BirthdayWhere to celebrate the inevitable process of ageing with your friends and some drinks.
Forget what people say about birthdays. They’re not about growing up, or celebrating another year of life, or even about emotionally manipulating everyone you know into buying you presents. No, birthdays are really about drinking. On which other day are you allowed to regress into a tipsy toddler while your mates continue to buy you cocktails like you’re a socialite? That’s why you’ve got to make the most of it and pick the right place, safe in the knowledge that your table is booked and that none of that precious party time is wasted in a queue. From a prohibition-style Soho speakeasy to a cool mezcal bar in Dalston that just so happens to serve one of London’s best margaritas, these are the bars you should book for your birthday.
In case you’re looking for a birthday dinner, we’ve got a guide for that too.
If you want to spend your birthday looking fabulous while drinking fabulous things with fabulous people in a truly fabulous setting—The Coral Room got the memo. The bar’s inside The Bloomsbury Hotel on Great Russell Street and they can make absolutely anything you ask for with confidence and finesse. Cocktails are pricey, but it’s entirely worth it for a drink that feels less like a beverage and more like a totally unforgettable experience.
The Exhibit serves feelgood summer energy via nutty mai tais and a very charming terrace and roof garden. The Balham spot has a long drinks list that covers everything from pints to pornstar martinis, and for a fun birthday one-two punch you can combine drinks on their terrace with a film in their upstairs cinema room. Oh, and don’t panic if it predictably starts raining—there’s plenty of seating inside and, importantly, a massive fish tank. Snazzy.
Disrepute is one of the best bars in London. Trust us, we’ve done the legwork—shamelessly drinking excessive quantities of negroni at 2am on a Tuesday night—to make sure the above is true and we stand by it. It’s an elegant basement bar hidden beneath Carnaby Street and there’s enough velvet and shiny surfaces to make you use the word swish. Open until 3am throughout the week (well, except Sundays when it closes at 1am), this is the perfect bar for anyone who likes to keep the illusion of sophistication but is secretly crafting a booze-heavy night out.
Taking pictures in front of the London skyline is an important part of any birthday so that you have something to one day show your grandchildren and whisper “we used to call it a co-ord set, dear”. Skylight is a rooftop bar in Peckham that’s perfect for big views, big portions of gin, and a big terrace where you can pretend you’ve hightailed it to Cannes, as long as the British weather plays along. You can book for up to 15 guests—indoors or outdoors—or get in contact directly for larger groups.
Considering it was once a church, Amazing Grace is a pretty sexy space. A huge live music venue in London Bridge that helpfully doubles as a cool bar situation, it accepts pre-booked reservations of all sizes as long as there doesn’t happen to be a gig on that particular night. Don’t expect anything too revolutionary from the cocktail list but the classics like spicy margaritas and rum punch are covered, plus there’s a nice little selection of mocktails.
Swift loves a mirror. Upstairs, downstairs, your reflection is... everywhere. This is either a very good thing or a very bad thing, depending on what a few espresso martinis does to your ego. Either way, it makes for a well-placed birthday spot in Soho with the potential for lots of selfies and probably regrettable content. The downstairs is available to book for up to 12 people and cocktails start around the £10 mark.
If you want a quiet, grown-up evening where all the memories of your birthday could be soundtracked by Enya, do not go to Meatliquor W1. Go here if you want your birthday memories to be soundtracked by Fred Durst and Black Sabbath—or realistically, drink so many of the absinthe-packed cocktails that you don’t even have any memories past 10pm. Just off Oxford Street, this shout of a bar is open until 3am every night of the week (including Sunday) and can take bookings of up to 20 shot-ready friends.
Unless we’re massively underestimating the age span of our readership—or the general life span of humans in the 21st century—we can safely say that you probably weren’t alive during the 1940s. Which is exactly what makes a night at Cahoots in Carnaby feel quite so unique. Inside a jazzed-up abandoned tube carriage, it’s a 1940s, D-day celebrations-themed bar with a live swing band and a seriously long list of excellent cocktails. Sure, it can be a little corny but you’re guaranteed a whole lot of fun until the early hours. Heads up, there’s a minimum spend of £25 per person.
What’s funnier than a “happy birthday pensioner!” card? Absolutely anything. Including rowdy drinks at Notting Hill’s Electric Diner. This American-style, big red booth spot is a great setting for some serious hilarity. During the day it’s a restaurant with some very decent mac and cheese, but hour by hour it gets progressively louder and party-focussed. This is a great option if you want to start off with casual conversation and cocktails but end the night with dancing—without having to actually go anywhere. We’re very into the prosecco-packed cocktail, Payday, so get involved but keep in mind that it gets pretty messy on the weekend after 11pm.
The Little Yellow Door
Keep your candles. Keep your Poundland balloons. And keep your well-meaning confetti that we still can’t get out of our rug four years later. No, when you want birthday drinks at your house—without actually having to deal with the mess of having everyone at your house—head to The Little Yellow Door. This converted townhouse in Notting Hill operates under the illusion of being a group of mates place that just happens to serve excellent cocktails and has a handy resident DJ in attendance at the weekends. Whether you go for an early evening situation with board games and boozy decanters, or for late-night dancing in their downstairs party den is up to you.
Dalston is one of London’s most fertile grounds for nights out that are low on quality and high on booze consumption. Although that’s usually just fine for an average Friday night, you should look for something better on your birthday, and that something is Hacha. As far as bars go around here, this is a very straightforward one. It’s unpretentious, comfortable, and lets you book tables for six or more people. Its drinks are where things change though. Their mirror margarita looks like water but definitely doesn’t taste like it and after a few of these you can get some tacos, or move on to one of your scuzzier regulars instead.
If you’re of the My Super Sweet Sixteen school of birthday thought and want everyone you’ve ever known to come and get involved in your birthday, The Prince is a good shout. This huge spot in Earl’s Court is part food market, part bar, and part giant pergola garden. You can reserve up to 150 seats here. Yup, 150. Head here for on-tap cocktails, craft beer, and a very pretty background for your inevitable birthday photoshoot.
Happiness Forgets in Shoreditch is exactly the kind of place to forget that you’re one small step to being—as your younger cousin would say—"well old”. This place is more intimate candlelit basement than full-blown party situation, and the maximum you can book for is six people. It’s worth it to cut a couple of friends-of-friends and that influencer your best mate is seeing to get a booking though. The atmosphere is relaxed, the service is friendly, and the cocktails range from creative takes to perfect classics.
Looking for something less lairy and more low-key? The Winemakers Club is almost definitely the answer. It’s a candlelit wine bar based in some 150-year-old arches in Farringdon, and the vibe is part intimate underground bar, and part horror film set involving a blood (and grape) thirsty sommelier. Tables can be booked for six or more people and there are raclette cheese toasties to soak up all that claret.
Last year you left your birthday plans up to your partner and you ended up drinking warm beer at a gig for a band called The Sad Vapes. This year you want to be somewhere grown-up, somewhere a little fancy, somewhere exactly like Nightjar. This Shoreditch basement bar has everything from classic cocktails to a live jazz band. All of this makes it popular so be sure to book way in advance of your birthday if you want one of the bigger tables at the weekend.
The idea of being trapped in a vault with a bunch of different friends that haven’t met before and your sister’s Hinge date might sound like a bit of a birthday nightmare. But trust us, The Vault is a great little cocktail bar on Greek Street that’s hidden behind a bookcase at Milroy’s whisky shop. Expect lots of oak panelling, coves to sit in, and an old-school piano that’s a great distraction for when your school mate and work friend start squabbling. It’s a small space so the biggest booking available is for eight people.
Getting completely mortal isn’t top of everyone’s birthday list. That said, if it is top of yours, then you want to think about going to Night Tales. This Hackney Central terrace bar and club is the cause of many next day apologies. Tables are available for six to 12 people or you can go all Love Island on it and book a VIP booth for 10 or more people. It’s open until 3am on Fridays and Saturdays which probably isn’t for the best, but you're only [insert age here] once.
Birthdays are generally pretty theatrical. Inevitably someone gets too drunk and serenades you with The Circle Of Life while you act your ass off pretending you still don’t need glasses. An old-school, candlelit speakeasy in Soho, The Arts Theatre Club is just the place for these kinds of shenanigans. This bar is all broody red lighting, plush velvet sofas, and excellent cocktails. At the weekend the vintage piano doubles as a DJ booth come late, and it’s open until 3am most nights.
Your only aim for your birthday night is to not end up in a police station. Unless of course, you’re talking about converted Shoreditch police station, TT Liquor. You get to this popular speakeasy through the TT Liquor Store and it’s a proper charmer of a bar. Think strong cocktails, a great selection of wines, and cells converted into big, red leather booths that are perfect for groups and decidedly badass. It also has regular tasting sessions if you’re after an evening complete with activities.