It’s all well and good going to a bar ‘where everyone knows your name’ but then chances are they also know about the time you tried to climb out of a window when your Hinge date mentioned marriage. No, sometimes it’s worth mixing things up a bit and heading somewhere new, exciting, and completely free from memories of hangovers past. That’s where this guide comes in.
From shiny, show-stopping cocktail bars in London’s luxury hotels to cool and casual dive bars that are perfect for a little Thursday night debauchery, these are London’s newest - and noteworthy - bars.
The Painter's Room
Eugh, classic Claridge’s opening up yet another eyesore. We’re obviously 100% kidding because their latest bar looks like the kind of place the Pink Ladies would go to once they grew up, invested in crypto, and started collecting Birkins. J’adore, darling. An ode to the artist haunts of Provence and Italy, this seriously stylish space not only has stained-glass artwork but also has a selection of refreshing, light cocktails. As you’d probably expect, the drinks here are wildly expensive - think £22 for an old fashioned - but it looks perfect for a special occasion.
Downstairs At Morito
Over in Hackney, Morito - famed for being ‘one of our favourite places to eat in London’ - has turned their downstairs storage area into a live music venue and bar. Marie Kondo, eat your bloody heart out. Also, importantly, it’s very good looking. Open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings, they promise quality cocktails and regular ticketed Morito Music nights that will support local talent.
We have a big fat crush on P. Franco, a Clapton wine shop that’s so good that everyone wants to be a regular. Now, one of the chefs behind P. Franco has helped to set up a new ‘wine drinkers’ clubhouse’ in Haggerston and we sense another big ol’ crush coming. You can either swing by for a glass of something special from their cellar, go all out on a membership, or bring your date here to pretend you’re the kind of person who just really loves natural wine. Just don’t be surprised if the rest of London had the same idea too.
A casual 10-minute stroll from Kensington Palace, Percy’s is a bar that’s actually, erm, kind of casual. Rather than following suit with the local fancy schmancy drinking holes, this Kensington High Street spot has no guest list, no minimum spends, and no soul-destroying dress codes. Instead they’re opting for a house party feel with timeless tunes, £10 G&Ts, and stacks of decorative books that absolutely no one will read. Look out for their regular DJ events on their website.
If an upmarket Chinese restaurant opens in Mayfair and it doesn’t have a bar, does it make a sound? Big philosophical questions aside, we’re here to tell you about Moon Bar, the red-red-and-more-red bar inside Mimi Mei Fair. Hidden down in the basement of this swish converted townhouse, ‘on descending downstairs you will be led to the atmospheric verre eglomise mirror-panelled Moon Bar’. We’re not entirely sure what that means, but it sounds quite lovely. Be warned, cocktails start around the £13 mark.
Aspen & Meursault
Good news for natural wine lovers and pyromaniacs everywhere, because this new low-intervention wine bar has a fireplace. Yes, we can’t quite let #cottagecore go either. From the people behind lovely Elephant and Castle wine bar Diogenes the Dog, this Battersea spot looks super cosy and has everything from bottles of accessible classics to those funkier numbers by the glass. FYI they’ve also got a ‘private snug’ that you can hire out for that next event, birthday, or entirely smug Big Wine Energy moment.
Cherry Galore is a new sexy basement bar doing sexy cocktails, with - presumably very sexy - DJs. On Stoke Newington High Street, their menu is packed full of incredibly subtle cocktails, like the Amaretto ‘Pop My Cherry’ and the double-rum ‘Le Freak’. We smell a hangover. That being said, all of their signature cocktails are under a tenner and it looks kind of perfect for your next evening of casual debauchery with mates. Also, they’re open until 1:30am at the weekend.
Top Cuvée is a nice little wine bar that became online lockdown saviour, Shop Cuvée, and then opened an IRL Shop Cuvée in Bethnal Green. Are you keeping up? Good. Well, now everything has come full circle as they’ve opened a new wine bar called Cave Cuvée, aptly in the basement of their one-stop wine and goods shop. Open Thursday to Sunday, expect funky labels, an intimate feel, and some top nibbles.
Joshua’s Tavern is an intimate neighbourhood tavern inside a luxury five-star hotel in Leicester Square. Confused? Us too, but let’s go with it. Inspired by a grand portrait painter who lived nearby way back when, they’re serving ‘gintonicas’ (intriguing), draught beers (classic), and small bites on their ‘bill of fare’ (in case you don’t speak Poldark, that’s a menu). Keep an eye out for their upcoming programme of live music that should be kicking off soon.
This place is all about champagne, baby. Another drinking spot inside luxury hotel, The Londoner, The Stage is a champagne bar that’s offering a champagne breakfast, champagne afternoon tea, and a ‘grand finale’ evening situation featuring, erm, champagne. We’re going to stop saying champagne now, and instead let you know that they have magnums for all of our high rollers out there, and live performances coming soon.
8 At The Londoner
A high-end rooftop bar and izakaya lounge at the top of The Londoner, 8 is serving us some serious Patrick Bateman energy. They have sophisticated Japanese-inspired cocktails on offer, like a vanilla and umami bitters Manhattan, a jasmine and yuzu margarita, and a Hakashu barrel-aged old fashioned. That being said, we’ve got our eye on their truly excellent list of sakes. Prices are high, but their Shima Garden really is quite the looker.
Bar La Rampa
Do we like the look of this new cocktail bar because we love a frozen daiquiri or because we watched Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights one too many times as teenagers? Well, it’s a little from column A and a little from column B, but this 1950s Havana inspired spot does look like a lot of fun. Outside of rum cocktails, they also have regular live music and a whole lot of pic-worthy foliage.
The Lord Napier Star
Hackney Wick has got itself yet another big, boozy venue in the form of this party pub. A revamped old public house, the front is covered in graffiti and there’s a bright pink staircase that’ll take you up to their pint-ready rooftop. They’ve also got a garden, a residency from Thai pop-up Krapow, and hefty drinks packages that have got you covered for birthdays.
If your prime requirement from a cocktail bar is sunset porn content for the ’Gram, then Skylight should be on your radar. This rooftop bar in Peckham has panoramic views across the city, as well as everything from a south London iced tea to an old cuban on their cocktail menu. Look out for their £20 mix-and-match two cocktail deal, non-alcoholic bevs, and £10 hot-desking memberships too.
The Top Hat
Ah, Monopoly, the game that taught us the magic of capitalism and spawned countless family fights every single Christmas. Now, you can relive all those beautiful memories at this Monopoly-inspired cocktail bar on Tottenham Court Road. Signature cocktails include the edible gold and champagne-heavy Mayfair - see what they did there. By our estimations, you’ll need at least 10 of them before heading to their immersive ‘Monopoly Lifesized’ game.
If you have a spare £300 knocking about and are currently in the market for a new member’s club - deeply relatable, we know - then look no further than Martinez. Named after a classic sweet vermouth cocktail that has kind of fallen of the drinking radar, Martinez on Greek Street is offering a carefully curated menu in consultation with The Cocktail Lovers magazine. Think high-end revived classics, popular modern numbers like the paloma, and oh-so casual lobster nibbles.
The people behind Spitalfield’s spot, Crispin, have opened a new wine bar on Soho’s Kingly Street. One for all the natural wine fans, they’re focusing on small scale producers and rare grape varieties, all curated by their in-house sommelier. Yes, plenty of those favourite regions are available here, including Loire, Beaujolais, and the Jura. FYI if you find yourself around Soho circa 9pm and are trying to avoid the bright lights of All Bar One, know that Bar Crispin is open until 11pm Monday to Saturday.
The Duchess Of Dalston
In a surprise to no one, The Duchess Of Dalston is a new cocktail bar in Dalston. It’s got that whole casual drinking den thing going on and is decked out with two-person banquette booths, exposed brick, and a dark navy bar that looks perfect for a lean-and-drink after work. All of their cocktails are £10 and you can expect twists on classics like their cherry-blossom Hana Highball and a rum-packed take on the negroni.
Another day, another London wine bar has opened. But we’re particularly excited about this one because it’s from the people behind Hill and Szrok and importantly, looks charming af. A daytime café and bottle shop in De Beauvoir Town, this place becomes a full sit-down wine bar and small plates situation come Thursday nights. It’s walk-in only but look out for any and all upcoming wine events on their Instagram.
If you’re Irish, or a proud fan of Guinness, or Irish and a proud fan of Guinness, then chances are you’ll like Homeboy. The second site from the Irish duo behind award-winning Homeboy in Islington, they’ve brought their selection of spiked coffees, £10 classic cocktails, and pints to the Embassy Gardens development - yes, home of the Sky Pool - in Nine Elms. Oh, and they’ve also got a big terrace.