One of the smartest bars on this list, Oriole uses stylish interiors to transport you back to the art-deco era. Plush stools, chairs and sofas are surrounded by cool world ornaments, and there’s a stage for jazz musicians to perform on. Whether you want to dine in the South American restaurant or dance the night away, there are two types of ticket: ‘Cocktails & Canapes’ (£25pp) which includes a welcome drink, two bar bites and a cocktail; or ‘Dinner & Show’ (from £40pp) which includes a drink, a three-course meal, and access to the live show. A pianist usually kicks off the night, before the main jazz act or singer takes to the stage, followed by a late set on Fridays and Saturdays.
East Poultry Avenue, Farringdon, EC1A 9LH
From the team behind SL favourite Bunga Bunga, Cahoots is an immersive venue in Soho, tucked away near Carnaby Street. The 1940s-themed bar has three spaces to transport guests into an abandoned train station. The Control Room has flashing lights, retro switchboards and danger-marked levers; there are live music performances here every Friday and Saturday night. The Ticket Hall, dominated by a giant station clock, has indoor and outdoor seating where drinks are served in teacups. The basement Underground looks like an old tube carriage – follow the wooden escalators down into the bar to enjoy afternoon tea and cocktails. Currently, all three spaces are decked out with Christmas decorations and guests can choose from a range of festive experiences, from bottomless brunches to Christmas picnics.
13 Kingly Court, Soho, W1B 5PW
Beneath the Piazza at the heart of Covent Garden, Cache Cache has recently been given a slick update from the team behind Hakkasan. Hidden behind a series of doors and mirrors, this dimly lit bar illuminates its brick archways with blue light, and is full of curios, treasures and ornaments from around the world. From Tuesday to Saturday nights, guests enjoy sit-down meals before partying the night away to music from DJs and the resident bongo player. The decadent Asian-inspired menu includes dishes like crispy rice nigiri with truffle caviar and ponzu; white truffle spinach salad with miso sprinkles; and wagyu beef gyozas with a soy, ginger and chili dressing. From an extensive cocktail list, we like the sound of the ‘Princess Cache’ made with gin-infused tea, Velvet Falernum liqueur and pineapple juice.
5 The Piazza, Covent Garden, WC2E 8RA
The Tavern At The Maine
After a string of high-profile launch parties and celeb events, The Maine has now fully opened its doors. This Mayfair townhouse is set in a grand 18th-century building with a drawing room, terrace and brasserie across three floors, as well as a speakeasy-style tavern in the basement (the former servants’ quarters). During the day, guests can enjoy brunch and lunch in the dining room, before the mixologists take over the bar with a happy hour that features £1 oysters with your cocktails.
6 Medici Court, Mayfair, W1S 1JY
Amazónico the restaurant has always been notoriously hard to get into, but the hidden club in the basement – which has been kept under wraps for the last few years – is now open to all. Operating on a first-come, first-served basis, this South American-inspired speakeasy is reached via a lavish golden staircase. Columns are covered in sequins, a golden octopus hangs from the DJ booth, and the blue walls look like something out of an upmarket club in Rio. There’s an extensive tequila and mezcal menu to choose from, as well as a selection of world wines and craft beers.
10 Berkeley Square, Mayfair, W1J 6BR
Opposite Chiltern Firehouse, Purl London is a classic speakeasy paying homage to the prohibition era. Its 1920s-inspired cocktails are designed to ‘awaken’ all the senses using aromas, fogs, airs, foams, food, and liquid nitrogen. The menu changes regularly, so there’s always something fun to look forward to, and there’s live jazz every Friday night until late. Guests can also book ‘Molecular Masterclasses’ to learn how to make theatrical drinks at home.
50-54 Blandford Street, Marylebone, W1U 7HX
The Green Room
The Green Room is a new jazz bar and speakeasy in Covent Garden to have on your radar. In the basement of the Middle Eight hotel, live acts do two shows every Thursday to Saturday night (8pm and 10pm) followed by a DJ until 2am. Saxophonist Leo Green and trumpeter Matt Holland from Van Morrison’s jazz band currently have a residency, so this month is as good as any to head down.
Middle Eight, 66 Great Queen Street, Covent Garden, WC2B 5BX
Nightjar is the sister venue of whisky bar Swift, which has locations in Shoreditch and Soho, and also of Oriole (see below). Once you’ve secured a booking (there’s usually a waiting list), descend the stairs into the atmospheric bar to find candlelit tables, and live jazz and swing bands (including late-night sessions on Fridays and Saturdays). Drinks and cocktails made with vintage spirits are served in retro-style cups – choose from ‘Pre-Prohibition’, ‘Prohibition’, ‘Post-War’ and ‘Signature’ menus which pay homage to drinks across the eras. A food menu offers small plates and bar snacks.
129 City Road, Shoreditch, EC1V 1JB
For something more casual, Opium in Chinatown is a great option for a fun night with the girls. The 1920s Shanghai-themed bar has been made to look like a traditional Chinese dim sum parlour split across two floors with three bars: guests can watch mixologists around the Bartenders’ Table in the Academy bar; choose from Chinese cocktails at the medicinal-themed Apothecary bar on the second floor; or enjoy dim sum at the Peony bar, hidden behind red curtains in the attic. Groups can also book masterclasses to learn how to recreate some of Opium’s signature drinks.
15-16 Gerrard Street, Chinatown, W1D 6JE
Jack Solomons Club
Jack Solomons oozes old-school Soho glamour. This basement speakeasy has exposed brickwork throughout, with plush velvet sofas, leather armchairs and art-deco table lamps to set the cool vibe. Guests can sip on vintage-inspired cocktails including the ‘Red Room’ (Campari, mezcal, watermelon syrup and prosecco), the ‘Gold Digger’ (Monkey Shoulder whisky, orange bitters, lemon, maple syrup, rosemary and ginger ale) and a grapefruit margarita with a salt rim. There are also carafes of negronis, manhattans and martinis, as well as small sharing plates, burgers and sandwiches.
41 Great Windmill Street, Soho, W1D 7NB
Something of a local institution, Ruby’s is the place to go for live jazz in east London. On Wednesday nights it hosts the ‘Dalston Jazz Jam’ when the Paper Moon band take to the stage, while Thursday nights are hosted by saxophonist Theo Malka-Wilshart (a regular at Ronnie Scott’s). If you want to go out out, make a beeline for the dancefloor on Saturdays when the resident DJ spins R&B and 70s and 80s disco until the early hours. Last month, Ruby’s launched Corrochio’s, a small Mexican restaurant next to the main bar where diners can enjoy enchiladas, tacos and late-night snacks, plus spicy margaritas, palomas and mojitos.
76 Stoke Newington Road, Dalston, N16 7XB