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Where To Go For Drinks With A Big Group

The best places where you can easily roll up and drink with a big group.

Maybe someone’s leaving your place of work. Maybe someone’s leaving London altogether. Maybe it’s your birthday, or maybe you just have a glowing 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. But if you’re looking to mix things up and you feel this is a situation that warrants a proper cocktail, some nice wine, or a craft ale, choose one of the options below. They’re all suitable for larger parties and they’re all places we enjoy hanging out.


THE SPOTS

The Wild Card Brewery Barrel Store

A microbrewery, in a warehouse, in a car park… leave some east London for the rest of us, Wild Card. When the weather’s good, gathering a group of mates on one of the large, outside sharing tables is the move at this Walthamstow taproom. Just grab a spot looking towards the brewery unless you want to stare at a fleet of Ford transit vans. There are also a few seats inside if the weather’s being British. Wild Card is particularly good for great merch and fans of New England-style IPA (although they do a bunch of pale ales and sours too). And if it is full, you’ve got options nearby. Pillars Brewery and The Real Al Company & Taproom are both next door.


From the live band on the stage to the distressed basement walls, there is something distinctly Left Bank Paris about this moody bar on Shaftesbury Avenue. Below Stone Nest’s concise cocktail menu keeps things simple for anyone who’s indecisive and the abundance of tea lights keeps the group hang tone set to sophisticated. But with a closing time of 2am from Wednesday to Saturday, we can’t promise things will stay completely sophisticated. Know that it’s walk in-only, but we’ve never had a problem just rocking up. You might have to lean at the bar then pounce on a free table if there are a few of you.


All bars part of glassy new build developments are questionable by virtue of looking like a shiny Be At One you’d find at Terminal 5. But, at Buster Mantis in Deptford, you’ll find a low-key spot under the arches that suits group gatherings that grow as the night goes on. The moodily lit cocktail bar has a Jamaican influence that appears in its food as well as its drinks. Wray & Nephew features heavily, particularly in homemade punch, and their tropical martinis go down very easily. We’ve also got a guide to eating in the area, if you fancy a pre or post-drink meal.


There’s no lack of shipping container-filled yards around east London but one that’s really worth going to is in Dalston, where you’ll find The Dusty Knuckle, Acme Fire Cult, and 40FT Brewery. The shared and covered outdoor space has room for around 100 people and some brilliant beer and food options on their doorstep. The taproom is closed on Mondays.


Outside of circus acts, there’s very little that this Balham bar doesn’t have. It’s got a karaoke lounge, stand-up comedy, open mic poetry nights, a cinema, bottomless brunches, happy hours, multiple terraces, and a fish tank—shoutout to our aquatic species enthusiasts. Set over three floors, the energy is always set to maximum fun and you’ll see plenty of other big groups catching up, sinking beers, and inevitably sharing a pitcher of Pimm’s if the sun is out. If you’re in the market for a serious hangover, you can also get involved in the pre-order group drinking packages.


Let’s break this down shall we. Arcade—there isn’t actually an arcade here, Pac-Man fans we’re sorry. Food—excellent edible stuff ranging from fried chicken to momos to unmissable bao. Hall—a hot tell that this place is big and therefore good for groups. Put it all together and you’ve got this huge glossy space near Tottenham Court Road. Unlike many of its food hall contemporaries, Arcade Food Hall genuinely isn’t naff. The endless assortment of nibbles slap, and the smart oval bar serves everything from spritz classics to a great range of mezcals and Japanese spirits. FYI you can make a booking for a group on the website.


St. John probably isn’t the first spot that comes to mind for a bit of group drinking. But the bar area at the original St. John in Clerkenwell is actually vast, with plenty of seating, and it’s a favourite of ours for drinks with several people, midweek or on the weekend. There’s an enticing aperitif menu, a lot of beers on tap, a great wine selection, and if you get peckish, order the legendary bone marrow salad.


“Come on lads, let’s get onnnn ittttt”’ is something you should never ever say within the achingly glam coral walls of this Bloomsbury hotel bar. If you’re looking to drink together, but importantly not vom in a pub together, then this place is perfect for commandeering a sophisticated sofa and casually sipping on a champagne cocktail. We’re not going to lie to you, the cocktails here are going to set you back £16, but they also serve beers and affordable glasses of wine.


OK, so you’ve got the whole team together. Except now a quarter of them have brought their partners, you’ve befriended a group of Dutch tourists on the way from the station, and that annoying cousin interpreted “oh, don’t worry about coming” as “yes please come and bring everyone who works with you at HMRC”. Go to Crate in Hackney Wick and go there right now. This place is huge, the pizzas are decent, and there are wine options/cocktails/craft beers that all sound like landfill indie band names. A round of Soundwave and one pint of Broken Dreams, please.


Pergola is one of the most popular outdoor hangs in Paddington in the summer, thanks to a tonne 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 solid place to gather a group any time of year.


Is this a somewhat silly name for a bar? Yes. Is said silly-named bar a fabulous mix of cool, grand, and extremely handy if you need to book a table for 10 like, right now? Also yes. When you first walk into Amazing Grace, look up. A converted church in London Bridge, with blues on the speakers, a mezzanine overlooking the candlelit stage where the live music happens, and a whole lot of green leather seating, it’s a swish solution for the eternal riddle of where to go for group drinks when you don't want fluorescent cocktails and to lose your voice. You can make a reservation for up to 30 on the website.


Peckham is home to some pretty epic sunsets. We know this because Peckham is also home to a lot of rooftop bars. Skylight Peckham is one of them, and importantly, it’s probably the fanciest. Less industrial low-key cool and more swanky private beach club, it serves weekend bottomless brunches, hosts live jazz events, and serves a spritz-heavy cocktail menu. In winter it’s prepared with a pergola, heaters, and blankets out on the big terrace, plus there are tarted-up nibbles. But really you’re here for two things: the cocktails and that incredible view.


Sometimes you must ask yourself, is the aim of this big group drinks situation to politely dissect the current state of your mate’s love life, or is it to ensure that everyone wakes up with a glorious hangover and lifetime aversion to Jägermeister? If it’s the latter, Meatliquor is your guy. This loud and proud diner just off Oxford Circus is open until 3am every single night and there are plenty of long tables to crowd around. Whether you’re here at 1pm or 1am, expect a dive bar atmosphere, affordable bevs, and plenty of neon lights.


Martello Hall in Hackney has it all: a big space that feels like a cool pub, wines on tap, a bunch of craft beers, an extensive gin collection, and most importantly, decent pizza if you’re feeling peckish. 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 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. It also serves most of those things until late every night.


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photo credit: Haydon Perrier

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