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London – as any barfly philosopher will tell you – is a city of layers. Cultures, classes, even historical periods rub up against each other in this great city, helping to produce the big creative soup that we’re lucky enough to be swimming in. London’s subterranean bars characterise and reinforce this concept. Post-war, the only spaces the emerging jazz and mod movements could afford were the basements and the cellars, and it was from these damp, mouldy rooms that the cultural boom of the sixties was born. The spirit of these pioneers lives on in the Fluid guide to the best underground bars in London.
Image courtesy of Flickr user Juan Ignacio Caviglia.
Shoreditch / Bar / Cuisine: English
Shoreditch - A hidden gem of a bar with prohibition speakeasy decor & quality cocktails, something different for the Shoreditch crowd. Live music from bygone eras & a high standard of living to match. If you enjoy anything remotely vintage or retro this bar will top your to-do list. The secret door is between two cafes just north of Old St. Hush hush & keep it on the down low.
Gordon's Wine Bar
West End / Bar /
Charing Cross - A true hidden gem wine bar (pictured above) right in the centre of London's thriving bar scene; only, it seems that the secret is out. Anyone who is going on a date, and enjoy wine and cheese, this is THE place to take them. Dark and dingy, the bar's sense of romance is created by candlelight, as long as you arrive early and grab a table in the caves. Yeh, caves! A fantastic wine list and relatively inexpensive considering the area. A bar for all the poets amongst you.
Dirty Bones Kensington
Kensington / Bar / Restaurant / Cuisine: American
Dirty Bones basement bar and restaurant in Kensington operates as a traditional hot dog stand throughout the day, and by night the venue reveals a quirky twist. The menu features a selection of playful takes on the classic American snack, using only the highest quality British sausage meat, and Dirty Bones own recipes. On Fridays and Saturdays, the DJ creates a funk and soul hideout for all the beautiful cocktail guzzlers of West London.
Shoreditch / Bar /
Hoxton Square - Everything about this shabby-chic bar will appeal to those who love a good cocktail and hate Hoxton hipsters. Their tagline - 'great cocktails; no wallies' - fits in with its direct mindset. Walk downstairs and you'll not find anything dainty or twee. It's retro, dark and hidden. The bartenders here know their stuff. They'll even have a seat with you and go through what you like and dislike in a cocktail to design what you want - always nice when you're shelling out big bucks for a drink.
WC - Wine & Charcuterie
Clapham / Bar / Cuisine: Bar
After nearly two years of renovations, this derelict, 100 year old listed former public convenience, has been converted into an intimate, and secluded hideaway where guests can enjoy quality wines, delicious charcuterie boards, whilst listening to talented live music acts. This special location has been given a new lease of life and fresh purpose, but also adds something completely new to Clapham. The small booths and candlelit stools make it a great bar for date nights and small groups of conversational friends.
The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town
City of London / Bar /
City of London - How to impress a date on a night out in east London: find The Breakfast Club; eat at The Breakfast Club; have a quick word with the lady holding a clipboard after you've finished eating; await instructions regarding the fridge; follow the sign that offers THRILLS; and once you've secured a table, don't move. Just wait, order, enjoy, repeat. And don't tell anyone; it's a secret (basement bar)
Bourne & Hollingsworth
Fitzrovia / Bar / Club /
Fitzrovia - A perfect place to find yourself after a nice dinner in Goodge Street, this basement bar balances between kooky and cosy. Soft floral designs that make you feel you're in your great-grandmother's lounge contrast with good looking bartenders that shake up a sexy cocktail for your drinking pleasure. It's off the beaten path so busy central London stays away, but it's always buzzy enough to make you feel you're part of the "in" crowd.
Ninetyeight Bar and Lounge
Shoreditch / Bar /
Shoreditch - Overflowing with flowers, birdcages, dusty rose wallpaper, quirky photos and random dolls, this eclectic basement bar serves up a mix of Shoreditch chic and the abnormal. Pillars with dozens of candles light up the back part of the bar, while plush couches beckon to relax in with a good drink. Just beware the devilishly steep staircase that descends to the bar - grated and see-through, it's not the best for heels and skirts!
Ladies & Gentlemen
Kentish Town / Bar / Cuisine: Bar
Welcome to Ladies and Gentlemen basement bar. L&G is situated less than a minutes walk from Kentish Town station. This unique neighbourhood bar is already a firm favourite with the ladies and gentlemen who live and work in the area. L&G provides a seasonal cocktail list that changes four times a year. Where it is possible all ingredients are sourced locally from friends in the Hampstead allotments to local fruit and vegetable markets. To keep people going monster sausage rolls are prepared daily from friends at Dirty Apron.
Peckham & Camberwell / Bar /
Communion is an artisan cocktail bar, tucked away in South London's thriving Camberwell Church Street, below the acclaimed Church Street Hotel and tapas restaurant Angels & Gypsies. Adorned with stain glass windows everywhere, it's stunning interior is home to some of the area's finest handcrafted cocktails, inspired and sourced from the South London community. There's also live music every Thursday to Sunday.
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