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Some of London’s bar hipsters will claim that Shoreditch is the best place to go for top London bars. Many of London’s cocktail bar freaks will argue that, no, it’s actually Soho and Mayfair where you’ll find the best bars in London. And then, naturally, there are those who will wade into the discussion and proclaim that the only decent bars in London are the bars that have romantic views of London’s many famous landmarks; craft ales and beers from the four corners of the world; cocktail or wine lists that are experimental, organic and biodynamic; or a trendy rooftop bar, basement (former toilet) bar, or pop-up bar location.
City of London / Bar / Restaurant / Cuisine: Pizza
Darts, dominoes, cards and chess are drinking games of the past now that Bounce has officially put ping pong on London's social scene. Built on the very same site where table tennis was invented and patented in 1901, this bar helps you forget tennis whites and plimsoles; here you can play the game in style. With a 40ft cocktail bar, wood-burning pizza oven and bodacious beats courtesy of the resident DJ. There are 17 tables to take your pick from, as well as an official 2012 Olympic table and private room available for exclusive hire. Loads of chaotic fun, London!
City of London / Bar / Hotel / Cuisine: Meat
This hotel cocktail bar has the best views across London of any bar you'll find in the capital. Taking in the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, City Hall, the Shard, St Paul's Cathedral and the Gherkin, this cocktail bar also boasts not one but two sun-drench roof terraces with outdoor bars and all-day BBQ. If you have romance in mind, this is THE bar for you.
Discount Suit Company
City of London / Bar / Cuisine: None
Discount Suit Company on Petticoat Lane is housed within a former tailor's workshop. The hidden cocktail bar is one of the latest addition to London's vibrant underground drinking scene. The drinks list is separated into two parts, the first being a concise selection of just six signature cocktails, all reworked old-time favourites; the second being a catalogue of Forgotten Classics from over the years. Discount Suit Company is an intimate bolthole with stripped back interiors revealing original brickwork and low hanging ceiling rafters. Cool just doesn't do it justice.
Soho / Bar /
Not anyone can get away with stealing the waitress away from you while taking orders. But when it's football superstar, Cesc Fabregas, it can be forgiven. Aqua Spirit is one such bar where high end lads and ladies hang out. Get dressed up and join in! Enjoy the delectable range of cocktails to choose from. Best to budget for the night as prices match the clientele, but it practically includes an informal fashion show too with industry professionals out for their evening quencher. Sneak a peak over the edge of the restaurant rooftop terraces too if you get the chance.
West End / Bar / Cuisine: Bar
Hidden behind an ornate tea counter at the back of the ground floor at the St Martin's Lane Hotel is Blind Spot, one of London's best kept secrets. The bar offers an outstanding menu of tea-infused cocktails created by expert mixologists, alongside delicious Asian-inspired bar snacks. Go to escape the hustle and bustle of Covent Garden, but stay to be serenaded by the hotel's resident jazz trio in the 1920's speakeasy style bar.
Dirty Martini Clapham
Clapham / Bar / Cuisine: Bar
This stylish cocktail bar in Clapham is probably the best bar in south London. The bar, on highly-sought after Clapham High Street, serves the finest and most innovative cocktails London has to offer. Their revolutionary cocktail menu has a glamorous mix of cocktails that will see you through the whole year, for repeat visits (birthdays, post-work drinks, pre-going out-out drinks, casual weekend drinks). It's also the place to be seen south of the river, especially if you're single. Hot people everywhere!
The Zetter Townhouse
City of London / Bar / Hotel /
Nestled away in a Clerkenwell courtyard rests the Zetter Townhouse. Part mad hatter's attic, part apothecary, this decadent drinking den serves up cocktails with a dash of imagination. After stumbling past antiquated stags heads and steely-eyed stuffed birds, you'll find yourself enveloped in open-armed velvet chairs. The infamous Tony Conigliaro's concoctions do their damnedest to demand your attention. And they'll get it. With gunpowder tea tincture on the menu, and absinthe served up in pipettes, every cocktail comes laced with a little bit of theatre. If Conigliaro's the Willy Wonka of spirits, I'm hoping for another golden ticket.
OXO Tower Bar
South Bank & Bankside / Bar /
Not somewhere you might go a lot, but it's still one of London best bars. Sure, if we all had as much money as the bar has beautiful views, we'd go a lot more. Although pricey, the cocktails are incredible - try the rum, ginger beer, and elderflower Dark & Stormy; refreshing but with a wicked kick. You can even take family who are visiting London to show them the views of St Paul's Cathedral and the river Thames! Special occasions are worth celebrating too, with a glass of prosecco atop the outdoor terrace: romantic.
Soho / Bar / Cuisine: British
This underground late night bar will transport you back in time to 1940s Great Britain, in a disused underground tube station featuring dazzling cocktails, swing dancing and sing-a-longs around an old piano. As well as serving classic cocktails, black market liquor and post-war favourites are also available, in particular rum and gin based drinks. For those that simply want to enjoy the comfort of a classic ale, Spitfire Premium Kentish Ale is also available to sip, alongside a portion of spam fritters, of course.
Mr Fogg's Tavern
West End / Bar / Cuisine: Bar
The streets of London may not be paved with gold, but a real gem of a Tavern has arrived in London's West End. Based on the adventures of Jules Verne's fictional explorer, Phileas Fogg, Mr Fogg's Tavern has a theatrical theme, with a Victorian tavern on the ground floor and a refined gin parlour and salon upstairs. Honest fare includes the Best Pie in London Town alongside an array of roast game, fowl and beast. With a separate entrance for ladies and gentlemen to enter discreetly, upstairs features a refined selection of gin, tonics and botanicals. Punch and Tipsy Tea cocktails are also available with a dainty array of sandwiches, cakes, pastries and petit-fours.
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