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Some of London’s bar hipsters will claim that Shoreditch is the best place to go in London for top 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 own a charming view of one or more of London’s many famous landmarks. So who is right?
Well, if there’s one thing for certain, it’s that London enjoys a variety of different bars, and the journalists who write about London’s best bars for Fluid London are all very different people. We think we’re all correct, which is why we’ve collated what we, as Fluid London, believe are the best bars in London.
Shoreditch / Bar / Cuisine: Bar
Shoreditch - Slurp cocktails out of a gramophone, sip gin and tonics out of crockery (but only on special tea party occasions), and order the rest of the night's drinks from a tube map inspired cocktail menu. This east London cocktail bar is whacky and fun without overdoing the whole "aren't we a cool bar" schtick. Jubjub, its private members bar, creates exclusive cocktails and is only accessible by key; very Alice in Wonderland. (Nathalie Bonney)
The Zetter Townhouse
City of London / Bar / Hotel /
City of London - 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. (Natasha Lunn)
The Big Chill Bar
Brick Lane / Bar / Restaurant / Club / Cuisine: Bar
Shoreditch - I've always loved this bar, just off Brick Lane. It's relaxed, quirky and cool, and there's always an acceptable level of 'characters' pottering about to keep my people-watching habit satisfied. There's a lot of sweet eye candy and only a month ago I met a beautiful boy. It's a great place to have a few pints after work but also livens up at the weekend, packing them in like well-dressed sardines. Plenty of options for somewhere to move onto as the night progresses. (Faye Armstrong)
Queen of Hoxton
Shoreditch / Bar / Club / Cuisine: Bar
Shoreditch - Bigger and therefore more spacious than it's little, slightly more pretentious sister, The Book Club, up the road, this east London bar is the best bar in London because it has everything a man could ever want from a London bar: hot girls, bombastic tunes, an enormous sun-drenched roof terrace with BBQ and rooftop bar, killer cocktails, live music in the downstairs basement and crazy artwork. Only downside: lack of ale. (Christian Rose-Day)
OXO Tower Bar
South Bank & Bankside / Bar / Cuisine: British
South Bank - Not somewhere I go a lot but it's still one of my favourite London bars. Sure, if I had as much money as the bar has beautiful views, I'd go a lot more. Although pricey, the cocktails are incredible, my favourite being the rum, ginger beer, and elderflower Dark & Stormy; refreshing but with a wicked kick. I often take family who are visiting London to show them the views. Special occasions are worth celebrating too, with a glass of Prosecco atop the outdoor terrace. (Rebecca Brett)
Soho / Bar /
Soho - Not anyone can get away with stealing the waitress away from you while taking orders. But when it's Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas, it can be forgiven. Aqua is one such bar where high end lads and ladies hang out. You can be there too, enjoying 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. (Philippa Morton)
Hackney / Bar / Cuisine: Mexican
Bethnal Green - Broadway Market offers up an eclectic mix of the brilliant to the just plain bizarre. The contradictorily named Off Broadway (it's not, it's slap bang in the middle of the street; false advertising) doesn't buck the trend. Ever had a pint with a slice of orange in it? If not, head here for a pint of Brooklyn lager. Smashing. (James McManus)
Smithy's Wine Bar & Restaurant
Kings Cross / Bar / Restaurant / Cuisine: Modern European
King's Cross - Smithy's is as difficult to pin down as it is to find in the warren of alleyways behind Pentonville Road. Its brickwork floor lends it the cavernous air of a Victorian inn, but there are careful aesthetic touches; clusters of chandeliers, a lofty beamed ceiling, monochrome photos depicting the venue's former life as a home for the horses pulling London's buses. Throw in real ales, organic wines and an outstanding adjoining restaurant and you have the perfect, if indefinable, drinking hole. (Charlotte Santry)
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