The 18 Best Bars For A First Date Drink In London

All you have to do is decide what to wear.
The 18 Best Bars For A First Date Drink In London image

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You’ve done it. Approximately 16 hours spent perfecting your Hinge profile, three months subtly stalking their Instagram, and a couple of very near misses with the private setting on LinkedIn, and you’ve got yourself a date. Sure, there are plenty of places to go in London but there's the chance they’ll be too loud, too intimate, and too expensive when you’re at risk of being cat-fished. That’s why we’ve made this guide, so while you decide whether blue really is your colour, we’ve got the destination covered. 



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Sure, the pub is a go-to first date spot. But it can’t just be any pub. Especially not the one where that local roller-skates to the urinal. That’s more of a five-years-in date spot. No, you need to go to a pub like The Blue Posts. It’s a super cosy and super classy restaurant-y type pub in Soho, where you can get anything from classic lean-and-flirt craft beers downstairs, to biodynamic wines at the upstairs cocktail bar. Plus, if all goes well, invest in some high-end charcuterie from the bar. 

If you enjoy blaming dating apps and social media for ruining your love life, then this one’s for you. When you step into Bar Américain it all feels very 1920s Paris. You know, back when you couldn’t stalk and inevitably judge their Spotify playlists before meeting them. The art deco paintings and cocktail menu will definitely get the conversation flowing. If it goes terribly, you can blame it on the vodka. If it goes really well, you can head next door to Brasserie Zédel for an old-school dinner date.

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They look the same in 85% of their pictures, they know the difference between a schnauzer and a beagle, and, by god, they like to watch Bob Ross re-runs when hungover too. This is a high stakes date and it calls for Lady Of The Grapes. This little wine bar in Covent Garden is like kindling for romance. Candlelight? Check. Over 100 types of natural wine to try? Yep. Just the right kind of ambience for a little ‘so what are you up to this weekend’ without it feeling try-hard? Absolutely. And, just in case that online profile was a little (entirely) deceptive, there are plenty of by the glass and carafe options so you don’t have to commit to a bottle. 

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If you’ve been known to start chatting about your parents’ divorce on a first date or relay a ‘really interesting’ fact about the Industrial Revolution to fill any and all silence, then this one’s for you. The Winemakers Club is a lovely candlelit wine bar inside a series of old arches under the Holborn viaduct. Everything from the exposed brick cellar walls to the huge selection of wines make this place seriously grown-up, and as long as you don’t burst into your rendition of Sexbomb, complete with Tom Jones baritone grunts, while you’re waiting for the bill again, your date will be properly charmed. 

Atelier Coupette is a small Soho bar ideal for trying several cocktails with a date, without bankrupting yourself in the process. Pours are smaller and prices are lower so you can explore the menu and try several tasty, creative drinks. Drinks like the 12 year-old Highland Park Whisky, with salted chocolate chips and hazelnut cookie milk are a great conversation starter, and there are plenty of options for non-drinkers too. Choose a table towards the back for a buzzy visit, or pitch up at the counter if you want to keep things more casual. 


In Dan’s, you’ve got a first date venue that feels like the living room of your most candle-obsessed friend. The Dalston wine bar has a board of by-the-glass options—so you can cut and run after one, or move onto glasses of ‘hectic red’ if things are going well. Exaggerating about your performance as an angel in your Year 3 nativity is hungry work, so get involved in the plates of comté too. This is a buzzy spot that works for romance, a deep ‘getting to know you’ chat, or lighter, no pressure meet-ups.

If you’re after something intimate with drinks that have a kick to them, then Tayēr + Elementary will suit you down to a tee. Despite being two minutes from purgatory itself, a.k.a. Old Street roundabout, the sceney cocktail bar manages to screen itself from the horrors outside via unusual drinks and an excellent soundtrack. It’s walk-in only, so come down early in the evening, lean against one of the counters, and get yourself a watermelon negroni, lovage gimlet, or their excellent one-sip martini.

This all-Italian osteria in the shrieking heart of Shoreditch is one of the best places to drink wine in London. It’s great for getting things going before moving on elsewhere. Or, you can stay, head upstairs via a hidden mirror door and enter Passione Vino’s boudoir full of rich velvets and charcuterie on tap. The Venetian salt cod is a must-order and probably counts as an aphrodisiac, win-win. 

Sage in the streets and wild in the sheets. That’s how you want to come across, right? Well head to Sager + Wilde and you’ll be off to the right start. The atmosphere at this Hackney Road wine bar can be a little bit beard-strokey, let me tell you something about wine-y, but it’s a cool and comfortable place to grab a couple of drinks later on. It’s a casual but classy vibe for any drink, but especially good for a first meet.


Bruno’s makes your date's job easy. The Islington bar woos, charms, and seduces you before you even sit down. It’s from the folks behind bistro restaurant Caravel and is located inside the adjacent barge on the Regent’s Canal. Sink into a plush, pink velvet armchair, made for hushed tête-à-têtes over sweet rum and pineapple cocktails, or snag a high stool for a pre-dinner grapefruit-spiked negroni. The soft lighting, steamy windows, and chilled-out playlist set the mood to cosy-luxe—ideal date territory when you want to whip out the “I know this little place” line.

You’ve been out of the game for a while and now you’re back, kind of. The prospect of meeting someone via an app who appears to have been born out of a witches pot full of cashmere and cheekbones is, frankly, terrifying. You need some Dutch courage and you need to be somewhere comfortable but cool, like The Compton Arms. Pubs are a safe bet and this little Islington one is a surefire winner. It’s a little bit hidden, it’s got a good crowd, and there are some excellent small plates on the menu.

Bars? Never really trusted them mate. They’re just pubs with fewer food options, serving beer at a higher price. If that sounds like you, then The Pineapple should be on your first date radar. This pub in Kentish Town has all your classic ales, lagers, and spirits, but has just the right amount of character to make it feel romantic. You’ll usually find a bunch of merry locals at the bar, but if you venture out back to their conservatory then you have all the quaint charm of Richmond Park without having to risk a long trip on the District line. Kind of. 


Bottle + Rye is a teeny, tiny wine bar where knees touch, hands are held beneath tables, and stories are shared over London’s most sensational anchovy toast. On the edge of Brixton Village, it’s a simple, dimly lit setting that feels intimate. Not intimate in the way that your estate agent called that glorified cupboard an ‘intimate studio for young professionals’. But a petite slice of Parisian charm that’s perfect for sharing secrets between sips of a skin-contact moscato. It’s somewhere you’ll want to sit for hours, romancing or reminiscing, while picking at terrine and doing your best brooding look. 

Chic but comfortable, and cool but not trying too hard, Henny’s is a wine bar in Balham that exudes the kind of first date energy we’re all striving for. Pull up a stool, opposite the art-deco mirror, for a night fuelled by one of the wines of the week. Towards the back is a mustard booth that curves round the corner, where tucked-away dates order Yard Sale pizzas and bottles of something orange and hand-harvested. If you prefer a buzzy atmosphere, come after 8pm.

Vine Bar, a little Italian restaurant and deli in Vauxhall is rumoured to be where the lady and the tramp first fell in love. OK, it was us who started that rumour, but this intimate, candlelit spot has all the potential for the ultimate first date and a shared spaghetti moment. Wine bottles lining the walls, fairy lights, and a whole gnocchi section on the menu if things are going well. And if they go really well, stay for a slice of the creamy tiramisu. 

The Anchor & Hope is the perfect date spot for anyone who’s ever said ‘love is dead’, while also secretly having photos of George and Amal Clooney’s wedding on their phone. This Southwark pub isn’t the kind of place that screams romance. It sort of whispers it instead. Sure, most of the walls are painted red and there’s foie gras on the menu but it’s also very casual. Like you. Grab a pint or one of their classic cocktails and sit at the bar. Then, if by some small miracle you don’t despise them, move to one of the outdoor tables and share one of the many bottles of wine. And, should you actually like them, go for a romantic walk along the river to end the night.


The Cow is one of those drinking holes where you can impress first dates if they’re into characterful pubs. It’s a Notting Hill institution, Messrs Beckham and Ramsay are known to enjoy a pint here, and there’s a feeling of mischief seeping out from every floorboard of its Americana-feeling saloon bar and red dining room. The bar is dark and dingy, in a chic, Kate-Moss-in-the-noughties kind of way, and there are booths to hunker down in for intimate chats. As far as boozy lunches or low-key pub dinners go, this is top-tier.

The Pelican is a great venue for a first date because it screams “dependable and rich”. Think caramel-brown leather banquettes, antique-looking tables, and natural, earthy tones everywhere. It’s the stuff of glossy food magazines, and the bunches of dried flowers and lack of water rings have us wondering if people even drink here. But they do—lots of them. Well-dressed Notting Hill locals pour in after work and lucky dates snag the semi-circle booth in the dining room for casual weeknight meals that are anything but casual.

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