Maybe someone’s leaving your place of work. Maybe someone’s leaving London altogether. Maybe it’s your birthday, or maybe you just actually have a decent personality and have a lot of friends. Whatever the reason, you’ve found that you now need to plan a drinks gathering for a not-small group of people.
The easy option, of course, is to choose your nearest local as a place to meet. And we endorse that decision. But if you’re looking to mix things up, and you feel this is a situation that warrants a proper cocktail or some nice wine rather than a real ale, choose one of the options below. They’re all suitable for larger parties, and they’re all places we enjoy hanging out.
St. John probably isn’t the first spot that comes to mind for a bit of group drinking. But the bar area here is actually vast, with plenty of seating, and it’s become a favourite of ours for drinks with several people. There are a lot of beers on tap, a great wine selection, and if you get peckish, order the legendary bone marrow salad.
London’s fascination with turning previously functional or industrial spaces into Instagram spaces knows no end. Levels is one of the latest carpark-cum-creative spaces. Choice neon colours and jokes aside, it makes for a good option when you’re in a big (and frankly uncontrollable) group. There are a couple of bars and loads of different food options plus, importantly, a lot of space to spread out in. Think about it, six friends = one Land Rover.
If your group is a bit competitive, or in need of a bit of team bonding (because Clare still hasn’t quite forgiven you for the red wine / white sofa incident) then you should plan a night at Flight Club, where there are darts boards all over the place. The Shoreditch space is also large, with good cocktails, and some solid food.
Street Feast has three street food locations, all of which work well for group drinks. Giant Robot is Canary Wharf’s saving grace when it comes to making Canary Wharf look a little hip, and there are some impressive views from there too. Dinerama is as Shoreditch as it comes, mainly because it’s in Shoreditch. And Hawkers House in Canada Water wins for the best chilled out vibes - even though all three locations are pretty chill. They’re all great spots to get a drink before grabbing food at one of the stalls or moving on to another restaurant. Make sure to get there on the earlier side of the night on a Thursday or Friday.
Pergola On The Roof is one of the most popular outdoor hangs in Paddington in the summer, thanks to a ton of large tables, beachy vibes, and street food hanging around the sides. In the winter, a roof gets added because you know, rain, cold and London. It’s a good place to gather a group any time of year.
If, like us, you and your group are still impressed by anything a magician does, then you’ll enjoy Passionevino. This Shoreditch wine bar has an excellent (and bookable) upstairs that’s accessed through a door that...wait for it...appears to be a mirror. Honestly, we never tire of it. And, honestly, the wine and the moody, dimly lit atmosphere here, is excellent.
Martello Hall has it all: a big space that feels like a cool pub, 12 wines on tap, a bunch of craft beers, an extensive gin collection, and most importantly, really good pizza that they serve until late. You’ll find a combination of booths and long tables downstairs, and living room-style seating upstairs.
Canova Hall is Martello Hall’s younger sibling. Where Martello Hall is a pub conversion in Hackney, Canova has taken over a former grade listed department store in Brixton and, yes, it’s very cool. Like Martello, there are booths and long tables as well as wine, beer, cocktails, and pizza. They also serve all of those things until late every night.
Most of the time when you get a crew together, the intent is to get a bit lairy - but sometimes the group wants to come together to have a good natter over a few nice cocktails. The Jones Family Project is a pretty civilised place to do this. Downstairs is a steak restaurant, which also caters to groups, but upstairs you’ll find booths and sofas where you can all reminisce about Malaga 2010 without some really loud EDM drowning you out.
Opium, like most places in Soho, comes with the obligatory arsey doorman. But if you can manage not to be put off by this, you’ll find an excellent cocktail bar once you’re inside. Opium is spread over a few floors and rooms, so there’s space for a big group get together - as long as you book a spot before getting there. Rocking up without a booking at the weekends is just a bad life decision. They also serve dim sum if you get hungry, but we suggest that you take your big group and eat from our list of Chinatown restaurants, if you’re in need of a proper meal pre- or post-drinks.
Conveniently located on West Hampstead High Street, this retro bar serves very decent pizza and cheap cocktails. There’s a great vibe downstairs with live DJs, and it’s a perfect spot for either a big group occasion or just a chilled date.
Aside from having the famous Orange Buffalo as its latest semi-permanent residency, Hoxton Square Bar and Kitchen is a great place for a little rowdiness. There’s always great music, and although it’s not the smartest place, you’re guaranteed a laugh here. Especially if you surprise your mates with one of Orange Buffalo’s ‘Viper’ hot wings.
Have you ever walked by the vending machine at your office or gym or wherever you spend your time and thought, ’I wish wine came out of there.’? Well, at Vagabond it does. You’ll need a card topped up with about £20 which you can use as you make your way round wine-lined walls of the main room where you can choose between a sample size, half, or full glass. There are some great wines at good prices as well as a good selection of cheese and charcuterie. And if the wine doesn’t do it, the novelty of the dispensing process should keep you reasonably cheery.