Cocktail Bars in London: The Best of the Best

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There was a time, not so long ago, when London was perhaps more readily associated with a few pints down the boozer than an evening of complex, adventurous cocktails in a world-class bar. But London’s bar scene has evolved considerably in recent years.

 
Whether you’re in search of the perfect Negroni or a mixological mind-blower, London’s best bars are buzzing with technique and creativity right now, so put down that lager and start exploring!
 

Swift

Soho has long been home to London’s naughtiest nightlife but most of its more storied night spots have tended to be less focused on cocktail mixing prowess than hedonism. Swift exemplifies the emergence of a more considered cocktail scene in Soho. Taking over the former-site of LAB Bar, which played a big part in paving the way for such ventures, Swift was conceived by a team whose collective cocktail credits include Nightjar, Oriole and Callooh Callay. Such impressive pedigree is immediately obvious in one of London’s most accomplished bars. Head downstairs for a longer, more ambitious cocktail menu and a cosy late-night speakeasy atmosphere.
 
12 Old Compton St, Soho, London W1D 4TQ
 

Hide Below

Hidden below Ollie Dabbous’s hyped restaurant in swanky Mayfair, this murkily lit bar is a haven for serious cocktail connoisseurs. Largely rejecting fanciful thematic silliness, Oskar Kinberg’s impressive establishment focuses on faultlessly mixed drinks, featuring brilliantly revitalised classics alongside inventive concoctions touting all manner of weird and wonderful ingredients. Full-on Mayfair prices may feel prohibitive if you’re on a budget but Kinberg’s cocktails are special enough to splash out, even if only for one. 
 
85 Piccadilly, Mayfair, London W1J 7NB
 
 

Lyaness

Last year, Lyaness’s glam predecessor at Sea Containers Hotel, Dandelyan, was named World’s Best Bar, two days before announcing its closure - talk about going out on top. Happily, Lyaness emerged almost instantly in its wake and continues to boast the talents of Ryan Chetiyawardana (otherwise known as ‘Mr Lyan’), the award-magnet bartender behind White Lyan, Super Lyan and Cub. Lyaness carries on where Dandelyan left off, introducing a sharpened-up aesthetic – it remains opulent, but the palette is fresher - and an ‘accessible’ concept based on explorations of three core ingredients. Expect stunningly complex drinks with plenty of surprising but well-balanced notes. 
 
20 Upper Ground, South Bank, London SE1 9PD
 
 

69 Colebrook Row

Tony Conigliaro is one of London’s most revered bartenders and this tiny, unnamed bar in Islington has long been the best place to sample his cocktails. It’s an intimate, understated and relaxed speakeasy-style bar that turns out to be a good match for a selection of unpretentious but exquisitely mixed drinks. This isn’t the place to come for gimmicks and self-conscious experimentation, it’s more about expertly executed classicism in an elegant old-school environment.
 
69 Colebrook Row, The Angel, London N1 8AA
 
 

Happiness Forgets

This small, relatively unassuming basement bar in Shoreditch has an outsized reputation in the world of cocktails, having scooped numerous awards over the last few years. It’s easy to see why, Happiness Forget is everything you want a cocktail bar to be and excels in the subtle art of making its patrons feel special. It’s cosily intimate, the service is faultlessly attentive, and the drinks are beautifully executed. It’s the perfect hideaway to hunker down for the night and embark on a thorough exploration of the drinks menu.
 
8-9 Hoxton Square, Hackney, London N1 6NU
 
 

Wun’s

Tucked away beneath Bun House on Greek Street, Wun’s is a fabulous new Hong Kong speakeasy / tea room. Said to be influenced by the neon drenched look of Wong Kar-wai’s classic film In the Mood for Love, Wun’s is gloriously atmospheric and packed with immersive touches like a menu printed on a newspaper and a jukebox loaded with vintage Chinese records. The cocktails are no less exotic, featuring tropical flavours and plenty of baiju, a Chinese white liquor that’s said to be the most consumed spirit in the world, though seldom encountered outside China.
 
23 Greek St, Soho, London W1D 4DZ
 

Of course, if you don’t want to venture too far, simply head to Generator London’s very own bar for late-night drinks. Here you’ll find catwalk lighting, wooden high-top tables, cosy booths and an authentic London Routemaster Bus. Sample signature cocktails that are sure to make your trip truly memorable.
 
Discover London’s vibrant cocktail scene during your stay in the city with Generator. We promise your taste buds won’t be left wanting!