From the wacky (drinking from a boot) to the wonderful (cheesecake, sorbet and meringue all in one drink), London certainly has a stunning choice when it comes to cocktail clubs. Here are 12 of our favourites
1 The Cocktail Trading Co.
If you like your cocktails in a boot, maybe a Chinese take out box, or perhaps topped with cotton candy, then The Cocktail Trading Co. is for you. Located in the basement of the Central & Co. restaurant, these cocktails are hard to top. Their festival chic drink is a delicious blend of mint and tropical goodness, but the best part is that it is served in a mini rain boot. Another cocktail – filled with Jim Bean, Matcha Tea and Yuzu Juice – is served in a classic Chinese take out box with chopsticks and Chinese noodles on top. You have to see it to believe how fun The Cocktail Trading Co. makes their drinks.
22 Great Marlborough Street W1F 7HU; 020 7427 6097; thecocktailtradingco.co.uk
A cocktail bar that doesn’t serve alcohol or even have a menu (yes, you read that right), BYOC stands for bring your own cocktail. Customers must bring their own alcohol and then one of the mixologists prepares an exciting cocktail with additional ingredients. With homemade syrups in an array of flavours including lavender, rooibos and vanilla the mixologists are sure to whip up something great. They are always brewing, tasting and testing to ensure every drink they make is special. Tell them what you like or let them stir up something unique – BYOC won’t disappoint.
28 Bedfordbury WC2N 4RB; 020 7240 7810; byoc.co.uk
3 London Cocktail Club
With six locations around London including Islington and Shoreditch, the London Cocktail Club makes having an exciting drink easy wherever you are. The venue offers a long list of drinks to choose from and includes a kitchen cocktail list. Bacon and Eggs anyone? This drink features Jack Daniels infused with bacon and mixed with maple syrup – oh, and bacon and an egg on top. Their Skull Candy cocktail served in a skull glass has vodka with a blend of fresh fruits, topped with flaming rum and a marshmallow. We could go on describing other quirky drinks, but you’ll have to go and try them for yourself.
108 Essex Road N1 8LX; 020 7580 1960; londoncocktailclub.co.uk
4 Basement Sate
This late night underground bar serves up delicious desserts designed to complement all the cocktails they serve. A few of their drinks even combine the two as most of the drinks on the menu are deliciously sweet. Try their Wolfberry cocktail with cachaca, goji berry, elderflower syrup and champagne, or their John Lemon dessert with sable Breton, lime cheesecake, Swiss meringue, and lemon sorbet. Be sure to ask the mixologists for the perfect dessert and cocktail combinations that will make your night a whole lot sweeter.
8 Broadwick Street W1F 8HN; 020 7287 3412; basementsate.com
5 The Nightjar
A speakeasy style bar that plays live jazz and blues music, The Nightjar serves up an exciting cocktail list that is divided by historical eras dating back to before the prohibition right through to the present day. Try their old-fashioned Waldorf Gloom Lifter, or one of their Nightjar signatures like their Atol Cocktail with dandelion coffee or their Foragers Shrub with aromatic saffron. All of their drinks are exciting with surprising ingredients. Just one cocktail will have you coming back to try more.
129 City Road EC1V 1JB; 020 7253 4101; barnightjar.com
6 Experimental Cocktail Club
Hidden behind a door in Chinatown, this speakeasy cocktail bar is the perfect place to escape from the crowded streets of Soho. In fact, it’s so hidden you might walk by it without even knowing. However, those lucky enough to find their way in will be greeted by a bar filled with customers waiting to try their delicious, much talked about cocktails. Talk about feeling special.
13A Gerrard Street W1D 5PS; 020 7434 3559; chinatownecc.com
If you’re serious about cocktails then Purl is the place for you. Their drinks satisfy on a multi sensory level using aroma, fogs, airs, foams, and even food to create the perfect drink. If fire, liquid nitrogen, or loud noises isn’t for you, then perhaps Purl isn’t either. Their menu features ingredients like flaming celery tonic or smoked fog. Their cocktail, Charlie’s Magical Pick-Me-Up, includes Jose Cuervo, falernum, salt, white grapefruit, and Purl’s fizzing bitter capsules. All of their cocktails sound as exciting as they look: be prepared for sensory overload.
50-54 Blandford Street W1V 7HX; 020 7935 0835; purl-london.com
8 Callooh Callay
If you’re looking for a tasty night out in Shoreditch, Callooh Callay’s cocktails won’t disappoint. With its eclectic design and even more eclectic cocktail menu, it’s no wonder their drinks have won awards for being the best. Cocktails are served up with fun and unique ingredients like egg whites or apple sorbet, but after reading the extensive menu you will want to have them all. Try their Bread Winner, bread milk, cinnamon syrup, chestnut tincture and Santa Teresa rum served tall over ice; or the fabulously named Kammaradawray, featuring a real mouthful: Wray & Nephew over proof rum, Kamm & Sons British aperitif, homemade falernum, pimento dram herbal liqueur, pineapple juice, lime juice, cane syrup and bittermens tiki bitters.
65 Rivington Street EC2A 3AY; 020 7739 4781; calloohcallaybar.com
9 Evans and Peel Detective Agency
Located off Earls Court Road, this secret speakeasy prides itself on playing up the secrecy. Play along with the theme as bar goers are asked to present their case (your reservation) to the front desk of the detective agency in order to enter. Once inside you’ll find a dimly lit 1920s prohibition style bar. Cocktails are crafted to fit the theme with creative names like the Wobbly Journalist or Hemingway’s Breakfast that infuses rum with marmalade and unsalted butter. The secret’s out.
310c Earls Court Road SW5 9BA; 020 7373 3573; evansandpeel.com
The place where dim sum and Chinese medicine combine, with cocktails that you simply cannot afford to miss. Try their signature Opium Cocktail No.1, served in a crimson dry iced-based vessel for an exciting twist. It’s a concoction of rum, syrup, absinthe and flavours like ginseng, mandarin, and lime to pair perfectly with any dim sum order. Opium is open until the early hours of the morning, so it’s perfect for a fun-filled night of drinks and late night snacks to end all types of festivities.
15-16 Gerrard Street W1D 6JE; 020 7734 7276; opiumchinatown.com
A brand new 1940s themed bar, Cahoots is a transformed air raid shelter that perfectly resembles a vintage London Underground station. Vintage signs, wooden staircases, and even a ticket booth help transport those who visit back in time. If this doesn’t excite you then maybe their eight page cocktail menu will. Drinks are served in flasks, milk bottles and even a clock. Their signature sharing cocktail, The Tanqueray No. TEN Station Clock, is served in a real working clock.
13 Kingly Street W1B 5PG; 020 7352 6200; cahoots-london.com
12 The Toy Shop
With its quirky design and even quirkier cocktails, The Toy Shop will have you feeling like a kid again. The cocktails are even named after your favourite childhood characters like The Big Bad Wolf or the Revenge of the Gingerbread Man. Try The Pied Piper’s Plan: Jameson, ginger ale liqueur, cream citrus and aromatic bitters. To please the inner kid in you, on top they add a candy flute. If you’re with a group of people then The House Party is a must. A signature party staple for The Toy Shop, this fun drink is served in a miniature toy house to complement the bar’s name.
32 Putney High Street SW15 1SQ; 020 8704 1188; thetoyshopbar.com
Words: Dani Segelbaum