Filed under the categories
There is no formula for cool, especially when it comes to bars in London. If you open a bar in London with the aim of being cool, you will fail miserably. Either a bar has got cool or it hasn’t. Unfortunately, for the bar owner, cool can come and go almost overnight. Cool is fickle because cool comes down to people and people are happy to change their minds at the drop of a jaunty hat. Cool also finds itself attached differently to different people. Those cool bars in East London that are packed with a skinny jean crowd may not strike the same note for the diamond and Gucci clientele in West London. Whether your cool centre is Mayfair or Dalston, below you will find the definitive list of London’s hottest, and therefore coolest, bars.
Worship Street Whistling Shop
Shoreditch / Bar / Cuisine: British
Located in a Shoreditch basement and inspired by grand Victorian gin palaces, the Whistling Shop Stop is as atmospheric - in a dark, Dickensian kind of way - as it is elegant, with innovative and theatrical cocktails to match. Filled with cosy corners and leather armchairs, the bar - sibling of Marylebone's Purl - specialises in reinterpretations of classic British drinks, such as their signature Black Cat's Martini, a drink that includes Cream Gin, concocted by the master of cocktails, Ryan Chetiyawardana, in their own, windowed, antiquated lab. This is a place where the modern and antiquated truly collide.
WC - Wine & Charcuterie
Clapham / Bar / Cuisine: Bar
Descend the old staircase around the back of the Clapham Common Tube station and you shall be rewarded with an evening in what was once, over 100 years ago, a public convenience for men. This erstwhile toilet has been repurposed to become WC - wine and charcuterie - a bar for candlelit conversations, organically sourced food, premium ales and live music. Romance will blossom here if you bring your date to this bar. And with the transport connections right next door, you can both escape sharpish if the heat starts turning up between you (wink, wink).
Purple Bar at Sanderson
Fitzrovia / Bar / Hotel / Cuisine: British
One of the most enchanting bars in London, Purple Bar at Sanderson truly does lie beyond the looking glass. Adorned with mirrored walls and miniscule furniture Purple Bar's sultry vibe makes this hidden gem an ideal place to bring a date. With conversation-starting cocktails to the unusual surroundings, Purple Bar provides a relaxed, low-key atmosphere that is so sought-after in the busy city.
Queen of Hoxton
Shoreditch / Bar / Club / Cuisine: Bar
Located in the centre of the trendy East End of London, the hipster-friendly yet unpretentious Queen of Hoxton is both bar and club and so much more. The massive rooftop terrace and BBQ kitchen is a major pull during the alfresco summer months and can be used all year round, thanks to the gigantic wigwam that is erected to cover visitors from the changeable British weather in the winter season. An eclectic mix of music - leaning more towards disco, house, indie and rock - is enjoyed over the Queen of Hoxton's two floors, while events such as the Rooftop Film Club take centre stage during the week. There's also a live music club in the basement. An all-in-one venue.
The Gilbert Scott Bar
Kings Cross / Bar / Hotel /
For windswept and intrepid voyageurs passing through St. Pancras Station on their way Paris or Brussels, nothing but the classiest of bars will do. Luckily there's one such establishment in the Renaissance Hotel next door, named after the building's original architect, Sir George Gilbert Scott (of Albert Memorial fame). From lunch to afternoon tea, through to evenings spent idly browsing the drinks list over your third Hibiscus and Chamomile Caipirinha, the ornate, sombre surroundings of the Gilbert Scott Bar are an exceptional launch pad for your next European jaunt. Accept no substitute.
Dirty Martini Islington
Angel & Islington / Bar / Cuisine: Bar
Dirty Martini Islington is at the heart of London's vibrant night life and cocktail scene, offering a perfect haven for after-work indulgences, sophisticated soirees and lively cocktail masterclasses. Situated on Upper Street, this venue is ideally located on the bustling St. Alban's street, capturing those looking for an innovative and extensive cocktail offering, with lively DJ's tempting you late into the night. This gorgeous cocktail bar is characterised by beautiful décor, bespoke artwork and a distinctive atmosphere. Don't miss their #DIRTYSUMMER plans to include limited edition cocktails, bespoke G&T's, plus with a Thursday Summer Club event they'll keep the summer vibes rolling
Drink, Shop, Do
Kings Cross / Bar /
This fascinating Kings Cross venue is a dynamic and interactive hub of activities and socialising throughout the week. Looking for a somewhere to quaff Pimms and dance the night away while embroidering corsages and fashioning sculptures out of clay? Drink, Shop, Do bar will no doubt have something for you and your arty friends, and all items on display are for sale. Normality is partly restored thanks to a healthy, inexpensive food menu and an assortment of afternoon teas available from 9am 'til close. Engaging, entertaining and original, this diminutive bar is attracting new converts all the time. A great place for Hen party too.
The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town
City of London / Bar /
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)
Evans & Peel Detective Agency
Kensington / Bar /
Make an appointment and head to the secret entrance of this illicit - and epically named - speakeasy, where the Detective awaits. Seasonal drink creations are lovingly served up from within its home in West London's Earls Court. Here cocktails include maple bacon and tobacco-infused bourbon, and Tanqueray gin delicately flavoured with lavender and Earl Grey, while London Pale Ale is served through an antique radiator. The bar, which is constructed from old church pews, has a no standing policy. Most of the food - styled around US-style small plates like beef brisket and pork butts - has passed through the in-house smoker. This might just be London's perfect date spot.
Waterloo / Bar / Cuisine: Cafe
What was once a scooter and moped workshop that served only weak cups of coffee to its patrons is now a fully-fledged café serving freshly ground coffee, hot chocolate, beer, wine, and a wide selection of gooey sticky cakes. Hiding amongst the mismatched tables and chairs or behind the many pieces of Vespa and moped-influenced artworks and odds and ends are two of ScooterCaffe's most popular residents, Stanley and Bob, the café's resident cats. The little café in SE1 is frequented by locals and those in the know, as it is so cool that it doesn't even have its own website.
Venue Managers: think you should be here?
Click here to send a message to the Fluid editorial team.