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London has arguably the best bars in the world. Naturally, the good people of New York City might have something to say about that, as would our neighbours in Barcelona and Berlin, but let’s be honest here people: London is the greatest show on Earth. From cocktail flagships to roof terrace hideouts to underground bunkers to specialist dens, we are leading the world for top bars and clubs. The trick is, knowing exactly where to find them.
The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town
City of London / Bar /
The ultimate in secret bars. So secret, you wont even know you're there even when you're there. Our tip: head for The Breakfast Club in the City of London. Ask the lady with the clipboard kindly if you can see the Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town and see what happens.
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 (pictured above) 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 capacity for just 60 people with stripped back interiors revealing original brickwork and low hanging ceiling rafters.
Clerkenwell / Bar /
London has an adventurous gem of a cocktail bar with a discreetly dazzling style in Clerkenwell. The Gibson thrills discerning drinkers with its original creations, intimate shadowy ambience, glinting mirrors and patina of vintage silver. This is the first bar which is independently owned by Marian Beke, one of the world's most innovative cocktail creators. Making his name at The Nightjar, where he was bar manager for five years, Marian has now opened his own distinctive space with bar manager Rusty Cerven, former senior mixologist at The Connaught Bar.
The Luggage Room
Mayfair / Bar /
This is one of those hidden bars for the end the night. We've been to this bar with a few friends after dinner during the week or during a night out on the weekend. Each time it's had the same effect: awe. No matter who you come here with, you'll never manage to leave before 3:30 (their unofficial closing time). The Luggage Room just seems to suck you in a time warp.
Evans & Peel Detective Agency
Kensington / Bar /
Top detectives and flappers unite! This speakeasy style bar hidden in the depths of Chelsea takes guests to a naughtier world where you cheeky prohibition breakers can get tipsy on gigglewater, dance The Charleston to live music and chow down on some Americana inspired plates and snacks like slow cooked pulled rib waffle. Lest we not forget, this is a Detective Agency and some mysteries will need to be solved. Secrets and surprises lie ahead?
Ladies & Gentlemen
Kentish Town / Bar / Cuisine: Bar
Welcome to Ladies and Gentlemen bar; in an old toilet!. 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.
WC - Wine & Charcuterie
Clapham / Bar / Cuisine: Bar
Despite inclusion in this hidden bar top 10, this Clapham bar is no longer a well-kept secret. Again, a former public toilet has been turned into something beautiful and remarkable. There is romance to be enjoyed in these old loos. Perch yourself and your hot date up on one of the high, leather-back banquettes and simply take in the atmosphere. The appearance is wonderfully dishevelled but the table service is anything but. One glass of something unusual and a plate of hearty meat, and the glow of love will be abundant on your cheeks.
London Bridge & Bermondsey / Bar /
A 5-minute walk from London Bridge brings you to an oasis of Tropicalifornication and chilled vibes. Proper cocktails made ethically in a cool bar. Everything is sustainable; from the bamboo straws, to embroidered staff uniforms. The menu comprises of 12 cocktails around the £10 mark. Try a Moby Dick, a clever twist on the Old Fashioned using coconut oil washed grain whisky with a salted caramel syrup. For something more summery, the vodka based Kuti Bird embodies sunshine with a home made triple sec, pineapple and Aperol. Nine Lives is great for a cosy date or a night out to celebrate life. Top tip: every Saturday, they host a party where guest DJs spin tunes until 1am. Download
Bunga Bunga Covent Garden
West End / Bar / Restaurant / Cuisine: Italian
Uncover a world of opulence and spectacle hidden behind a meat locker at the back of the seemingly wholesome BungaTINI pizzeria. Feast on an Italian banquet high up on the throne or inside a speedboat as table entertainers mingle with your dinner party. Or come by after dinner to take on the roulette for some free shots in the Casino bar, watch a string of cabaret acts take to the stage and party like Berlusconi in this crazy theatrical experience. Bunga Bunga Covent Garden is the second venue to open after the popular Battersea bar and club.
Hackney / Bar / Cuisine: Bar
The two random stools on the pavement outside next to the busy Kingsland Road, halfway between Shoreditch and Dalston, do little to give the game away as this bar is concealed behind a vertical wall of vegetation. Step inside, though and you'll discover a "sick venue" that has a "mental cocktail list" (actually overheard when we visited). The tunes are funky; there's a whole wall of mostly Japanese whisky; there's enough unusual decorative attributes to keep the conversation flowing ("good place for a date", also overheard); plus the potent, theatrical cocktails are reassuringly expensive. Make this the start, or end, of your Dalston bar crawl. Download
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