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.
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 the HMRC’. Go to Crate 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.
Arguably so Shoreditch it hurts, The Light Bar is undeniably a cool place for a bev with some of your favourite people. The service can be a little precious, but we can totally overlook that in the face of three floors of exposed brick moody bar good-time potential. Set in a converted power station, you can opt for a big bench on their heated outdoor terrace, some banquette seating in their ground floor ‘Engine Room’ area, or head on up to their mezzanine cocktail bar if you’re after something a little more special. You can book a space for up to 20 on their website but please note, you will need a booking. We repeat, don’t just rock up here with your entire friendship circle and expect to get a table, it gets super busy throughout the week.
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.
The Coral Room
‘Come on lads, let’s get bloody onnnn ittttt!’ is something you should never ever say within the achingly glam coral walls of this 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 £15, but they also have beers and affordable glasses of wine.
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.
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 with blues on the speakers, a mezzanine overlooking the candle-lit stage where 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’re definitely not freshers anymore. The house lager is great, the cocktails are a tenner, and they even have food from Mr Bao in case you get peckish. You can book tables for up to 30 on their website.
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.
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 lowkey cool and more swanky private beach club, they have weekend bottomless brunches, live jazz events throughout the week, and a spritz-heavy cocktail menu. In the winter they’ve also got those come-for-the-insta-pics-stay-for-the-memz igloos out on their big terrace, plus tarted-up nibbles like caviar-topped oysters and corn ribs, 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 of 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. Because neon lights are fun, right?
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.
Nothing says reunion like a converted car park in Dalston. Or maybe a nice long hug would be more appropriate, but here we are. A huge - and importantly, covered - outdoor space, 40FT is another of London’s big breweries that will serve your whole group, easy peasy. They share this space with wine legends Slurp and one of our all-time favourite bakeries, The Dusty Knuckle. Don’t forget your jackets in the winter.