Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels, Covent Garden
Launched by the design-conscious Experimental Group – that’s the company behind Night Flight, Grand Pigalle Hotel, Beef Club and Ballroom in Paris – Compagnie Des Vins Surnaturels is a French-feeling wine bar in Seven Dials. With over 400 bottles of wine in stock, this is a great choice for anyone feeling adventurous – CVS prides itself on selecting hard-to-find fine wines, which they pair alongside dainty small plates such as beef tartare and octopus ceviche.
8-10 Neal's Yard, Covent Garden, WC2H 9DP
Smokey Kudu, Peckham
Smokey Kudu is a small neighbourhood cocktail bar located under the arches by Queens Road station in Peckham. It is the first standalone bar from Amy Corbin and Patrick Williams and is a short walk away from their original hit restaurant Kudu. The elegant drinking den features a central horseshoe-shaped bar topped with pink marble and a giant glass chandelier, which gives the room a luxe feel. The drinks list subtly draws on Patrick’s native South Africa with 15 cocktails (including non-alcoholic drinks) and fans of Kudu restaurant will be happy to see the ‘Smokey Kudu’ (made with Bain’s South-African whisky, rosehip, wormwood and smoke) has also made it onto the list here.
Arch 133 Queens Road, Peckham, SE15 2ND
Discount Suit Company, Spitalfields
As its name suggests, east London hotspot Discount Suit Company is located in a former suit tailor’s storeroom. One of our favourite places for cocktails, this is the ideal place to try a new drink and tuck into a cheeseboard to the soundtrack of northern soul and vintage rock n’ roll. On the menu, expect to sample the likes of ‘Wake & Bake’ (Nigella seed vodka, clementine sherbet, Palo Cortado and club soda) and ‘Rocket Lolly’ (Bombay Sapphire gin, El Bandara rosé vermut, Victory bitter, pineapple, citrus and Tiki bitters).
29 Wentworth Street, Spitalfields, E1 7TB
From the outside, this French-leaning wine bar looks like an old Tudor pub: picture black and white beams and pretty stained glass. But within, the townhouse has had a thoroughly modern makeover – seating is millennial pink, there’s plenty of exposed brickwork, gold accents and statement lighting abound. The Francophile wine list is one that we’ve sampled time and time again and lots of glasses are priced at £5 each – perfect for trying something new (with someone new).
44 Blandford Street, Marylebone, W1U 7HS
Laughing Heart, Hackney
This late-night spot in Hackney is a wine bar, restaurant and off-licence. Down in the wine cellar, the team supports artisan, organic farmers and caters for a range of tastes and budgets. We’re a big fan of the Cave, a candlelit private space that serves oysters and steak alongside its wines. Come kicking-out time, guests who aren’t ready to leave can opt to grab one for the road from the well-stocked in-house off-licence.
277 Hackney Road, Hackney, E2 8NA
Sager + Wilde, Hoxton
The team behind Sager + Wilde has a top-notch restaurant on Paradise Row in Bethnal Green and a romantic wine bar in Hackney. While the restaurant is one of our favourite places to eat pasta in the capital, we also love its bijou wine bar: its drinks list (by the glass and by the bottle) changes every day depending on what the team are into and which old cellars they’ve raided. Superlative cheese boards and toasties filled with British artisanal cheese and jalapeños, or chorizo and spinach, will help to line the stomach.
193 Hackney Road, Hoxton, E2 8JL
Waeska, the cool bar within The Mandrake hotel (one of our favourites to open in the last few years) offers an atmospheric spot for first dates, complete with taxidermy, plenty of greenery and a curiosity cabinet. With a cocktail list created by Walter Pintus, formerly head mixologist at The Connaught, the menu is founded on ethnobotany: the study of a region’s plants and their practical uses through the traditional knowledge of local cultures. We’re big fans of the ‘Sage' (mescal, Saint Germain, sage, tomato and dry sherry).
20-21 Newman Street, Fitzrovia, W1T 1PG
The Bloomsbury Club Bar, Bloomsbury
The atmospheric Bloomsbury Club Bar is split into two areas, the main bar and the outer terrace. The walls in the main bar area are adorned with books synonymous with the Bloomsbury Set, of whose hedonistic reputation the bar takes inspiration – its a cosy, romantic spot. Meanwhile the secluded (and fully heated) outside bar is decorated with hundreds of twinkling lights for ready-made romance.
16-22 Great Russell Street, Bloomsbury, WC1B 3NN
Donovan’s Bar, Mayfair
Donovan’s Bar (named after the renowned fashion photographer Sir Terence Donovan) is Brown’s Hotel’s signature watering hole. The menu is devised by drinks ‘maestro’ Salvatore Calabrese and offers new and signature creations alongside a selection of vintage cocktails made with some of the rarest spirits from his personal collection (the banana and cocoa G&T is challenging, in a great way). Throughout the bar, racing green accents and touches of gold work well against the 18th-century stained glass and Donovan’s black-and-white fashion portraits, which line the walls. Our favourite spot is the eight-seat ‘Naughty Corner’, which features his most suggestive photographs.
Albemarle Street, Mayfair, W1S 4BP
Neighbourhood favourite Oriole is decorated with warm amber tones and pops of teal. Buried beneath Farringdon’s Smithfield’s Market, the bar is the sultry little sister to ever-popular Nightjar. An underground cabinet of curiosities, the venue is draped with velvet curtains, exotic palm trees and swathes of fur, which combine to set the scene for an intimate evening of retro glamour. When it comes to drinks, we like the decadent ‘Orsini’ cocktail, which combines Grey Goose vodka, cognac, artichoke rubino and neroli foam.
Smithfield’s Market, Farringdon, EC1A 9LH
Bob Bob Cité, City
Five years in the making, Bob Bob Cité finally opened in the Leadenhall Building just before the pandemic hit. A sister site to Anglo-French-Russian-themed Soho institution Bob Bob Ricard, this glossy City spot celebrates French elegance and. As such, expect wonderfully OTT interiors: the walls and ceilings are panelled with rosewood and there are more than 800 bespoke light fittings (including 24 chandeliers). As per the original, the 'Press for champagne’ buttons are a fixture.
Level 3, 122 Leadenhall Street, City, EC3V 4AB
Dripping in old-school glamour, this Shoreditch speakeasy comes with the buzz of live jazz and a punchy cocktail list. Nightjar has a reputation for breathing new life into forgotten cocktails and bringing a fresh perspective to classic recipes and presentation. Alongside this inventive cocktail menu is an extensive spirit list – including vintage spirits – a menu of tapas and sharing plates, and a nightly schedule of the very best vintage jazz, blues, ragtime, and swing – perfect for setting the scene.
129 City Road, Shoreditch, EC1V 1JB
Victorian Bath House, City
Grade II-listed and brimming with character, this subterranean space is a place to impress. When it comes to drinks, head down to By Appointment Only, a clandestine drinking den hidden beneath the City. Open exclusively for bookings on Friday evenings, this glamorous underground spot was first built to house a Turkish bath. Steeped in original features, the space has since been restored, and now offers expertly crafted cocktails in lavish surroundings – think red drapes, ornate oriental tiling and private booths to hide away in.
7-8 Bishopsgate, City, EC2M 3TJ
The Courtesan, Brixton
The Courtesan is a modern dim sum restaurant, tearoom and late-night cocktail bar in Brixton. Known for its fresh approach, the venue reveals its menus in story form, inspired by tales of the legendary courtesans of ancient China. When it comes to cocktails, we like the ‘China Ghost – An Ethereal Kiss’ – Finlandia vodka, rose liqueur, lychee, rose peony tea and pomegranate syrup. Away from its dim sum menu, the team offers an exclusively female wine and spirit list, where everything served is either produced or grown by women.
69-73 Atlantic Road, Brixton, SW9 8PU
Purl London, Marylebone
Purl London serves up multi-sensory cocktails in a brick-lined, 19th-century cellar bar. Adding new flare and creativity to forgotten libations from the prohibition era, Purl is well known for its innovative approach to mixed drinks: using aroma, fogs, airs, foams, food, bespoke barware and liquid nitrogen to bring drinks to life and transport guests to an era past. When it comes to ambiance, expect contemporary music which leans towards swing, jazz and blues.
50-54 Blandford Street, Marylebone, W1U 7HX
Silver Lining, Hackney
Thwarted by the pandemic, Silver Lining opened last summer as an orange wine shop. Now it’s opened its doors as the UK’s first orange wine bar. Guests can choose from more than 50 orange, natural and skin-contact wines, served alongside classic cocktails and a menu of classic French dishes made with ingredients sourced hyper locally – look out for duck rillettes and saucisson sec.
13 Morning Lane, Hackney, E9 6ND
Eve Bar, Covent Garden
Located in the basement of Adam Handling’s Covent Garden restaurant The Frog, Eve takes inspiration from its biblical namesake to entice guests to ‘Resist everything except temptation’. The bar’s modern approach to cocktails is matched by its mysterious and decadent interior – picture bespoke art pieces, dark-coloured walls and rich furnishings.
34 Southampton Street, Covent Garden, WC2E 7HF
Hoxley & Porter, Islington
Hoxley & Porter is a cocktail lounge and modern European restaurant with a turn-of-the-century-style interior. Just off Islington's Upper Street, the bar is characterised as much by its striking decor as its inventive drink menu. If you’re planning the ultimate double – or triple – date, opt for Mother Scorpio, an atmospheric ten-seat booth or the Baby Scorpio, which seats eight.
153 Upper Street, Islington, N1 1RA
Zero-waste principles are to the fore at neighbourhood bar Crossroads, but don’t get in the way of a fine cocktail menu. The bar is the creation of Bart and Monika Miedekza who’ve both worked at Dalston’s High Water, Vagabond and The Typing Room. Signature serves include ‘Remember The Name’ (a highball of cherry scotch, chinato and cherry soda) and ‘Black Cardinal’ (a smoky negroni of gin, Campari and lapsang souchong tea). Bar bites include the likes of homemade pickles, Nocellara del Belice olives and Mignonette pepper almonds, but the focus is really on the drinks – there’s also a wine list full of small, independent producers.
Camden Road, Camden, NW1 9NN
Stoney Street, Borough
Alex Hely-Hutchinson’s Borough Market restaurant now transforms into a wine bar in the evening. ‘Stoney Street by Night’ showcases a curated list of natural wines from across the world sourced from acclaimed wine suppliers including Modal Wines and Les Caves de Pyrene, alongside a selection of small plates such as honey sweet melon with prosciutto; and lamb merguez sausage wrapped in filo and served with peach chutney. To accompany the wine list and for those looking for something a little stronger, there’s also a selection of classic cocktails including a tarragon collins and vodka blackberry shrub.
2-3 Stoney Street, Borough, SE1 9AA
Milroy’s of Spitalfields, Spitalfields
Milroy’s more recent Spitalfields site is set across four floors, offering a whisky bar, cocktail bar, tasting room and members club with a cigar terrace. In the basement, guests can find The Proofing Room, a cocktail bar created by Chris Tanner and the team behind the popular, award-winning bar The Vault Soho. Of the spaces, this is the one to head to for a perfectly made drink or two. If you’re looking to treat the whisky lover in your life, on the ground floor you’ll find a 1,000-strong whisky bar with space for 40 people, showcasing a carefully curated whisky selection from around the globe. Trust us, the team really knows its stuff.
76 Commercial Street, Spitalfields, E1 6LY