Where To Drink Good Wine Outside
Where to go when you want a nice glass, fresh air, and good snacks.
A candlelit wine bar is dreamy, but a candlelit wine bar with an outdoor space that gives you the freedom to gossip, chain-smoke, and make short-term regrettable decisions… well, that’s the dream. At least for us anyway. There’s no lack of places to drink good wine in London, but these are the places to do it outside.
photo credit: Ewan Munro
Antidote Wine Bar
Antidote by name and antidote by nature. Given the wine bar’s location just off Carnaby Street you’ll be surprised just how pleasant it is to pitch up at one of the dozen or so tables outside. There’s a serious cellar of European biodynamic bottles here, but you don’t have to delve into the magnums from the Loire (or, do you?). Glasses start at £6 and the snacks, all tomato-ish and charcuterie, are lovely.
photo credit: Forza Wine Serving Us Glorious Sunset Realness
You’d think that wine and being 200-odd feet high could be a dangerous combination but, it turns out, a bottle of riesling, a view over Peckham and beyond, and grilled flatbread with taleggio and pickled fennel are actually an excellent mix. Forza Wine is up on Rye Lane and it’s both a bar and restaurant. Given the views and desire to share a lengthy natural wine list and oil-drenched panzanella in the sun, you’ll understand why we recommend booking well in advance.
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photo credit: John Carey
The weekday-only Italian wine bar and shop on Leonard Street is a favourite with restaurant workers and Italian wine-lovers alike. Early evenings that start with a bottle here tend to end with, well, several more bottles here (as well as a metric tonne of charcuterie, bread, and a one last glass for good luck). You can take your drinks out onto the street and nab a bench spot if possible then, later, head to the hush-hush upstairs bar.
40 Maltby Street
If you’re looking for somewhere that feels more heart-to-heart than let’s-have-another-bottle, 40 Maltby Street is a brilliant and low-key choice. With just a handful of tables outside and a changing menu that’s made for two people (or at tops four) who want to carefully and casually catch up over terrine, fritters, and probably at least two custard-type desserts, the wine bar and restaurant in Bermondsey is a serene oasis for clinking glasses outside.
photo credit: Daniel Ogulewicz
Diogenes The Dog
Diogenes The Dog is a quaint corner wine bar that, whisper it, could be mistaken for somewhere Elephant and Castle-looking in Paris if you squint your eyes and get to work on that second bottle of malbec. It specialises in wines from smaller producers and the staff can tell you as much or as little as you want to know. Also, the snacks—from terrine of the week to burratina—are both excellent and not outrageously priced.
If you think that one of London’s best wine bars and restaurants—lead with whichever you see fit—would lose its lean-over-the-candlelit-table appeal with tables outside then think again. Quality Wines manages to make a corner of the Farringdon Road feel quite transportive. To the extent that at some point after your mart-ilda (it’s a martini and a gilda) and oily focaccia, when you’re eyeing up the next table’s scallop with ‘nduja butter, you’ll forget that you’re in EC1 and five minutes away from a Leyland.
photo credit: Karolina Wiercigroch
Sager + Wilde
Part refined wine bar and part ginormous arch full of people unashamedly swilling glasses, Sager + Wilde is a fine choice for an intimate couple or a livelier group of grape lovers alike. There’s plenty of room and plenty of tables at their archway space in Bethnal Green, but you’ll have to book fast as this is very much a spot that people know about. Food-wise there’s handmade pasta, charcuterie, and all the things you’d want to politely fork at while putting the world (or something) to rights.
Lady Of The Grapes
This female winemakers-focused restaurant and wine bar in Covent Garden has plenty of exposed brick, rustic wooden tables, and shelves stacked to the brim with organic wines inside. Outside, in the middle of Covent Garden, it’s a charming spot where a handful of tables spill from the pavement onto the road—perfect for a cheeseboard, a slice of tart au citron, and some picks from a fantastic all-women wine list.
The Winemakers Club
Underneath Holborn Viaduct is The Winemakers Club, a candlelit wine bar in a couple of 150-year-old arches that looks like the kind of place Hannibal Lector would drink a nice chianti. Winemakers is best suited for the evening thanks to its underground setting, and the alfresco space out front, also under the viaduct, has an added rain-protection benefit. The wine selection is good, as are the prices, and it’s a great spot to try something new. Not least their raclette toastie.
photo credit: Charlie McKay
Along a quiet residential road and signalled by a buttercup-yellow awning, Hector’s is a petite cave à manger in De Beauvoir (that is, a small wine bar which also does snacks like tinned fish and crisps—but it doesn’t sound quite so good in English, does it). It’s a bottle shop earlier on in the day, with corks popped and glasses of the fizzy, funky, and fine variety poured from late afternoon. On warm evenings, there’s no better place to live out your Parisian fantasy as seating spills out onto the pavement and all the très chic people come out to drink, eat, and be merry.