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The new Nightjar in Carnaby.
Nightjar

The Hottest Cocktail Bars in London

The best new places to drink in the city

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The new Nightjar in Carnaby.
| Nightjar

London’s cocktail scene moves faster than an influencer lunging for the last canapé on the tray at a launch. At least it did, and then the novel coronavirus pandemic came, and lockdowns put more than just the drinks on ice. Bars — bar nightclubs — have perhaps suffered most, thriving as they do on intimate indoor spaces, so it’s no surprise that few have dared open debut ventures as the city slowly kicks back into gear. But those that have are shaking serious serves — here’s where to find the best new cocktails in London.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Mezcaleria @ Kol

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Matthias Ingelmann’s contribution to Santiago Lastra’s hyped Mexican debut Kol continues on from predecessor Maxim Schulte: a clever cocktail menu which takes a duo of ingredients key to Lastra’s menu and fashions them into two different cocktails from a roster of classic serves. So sorrel and hops become a mezcal sour and a rum fizz, while cucumber and pine are deployed in a martini and a highball.

Le Magritte Bar & Terrace

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Ceci ... well it is a cocktail bar, actually: a stylish one, with a menu split between ceci n’est pas house drinks named for Magritte artworks, and ceci classics named for their being cocktails. There are a few --globally inspired-- snacks, but being honest, little would do better than a martini and some corndogs.

Seed Library

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Ryan Chetiyawardana — Mr Lyan — returns to the London cocktail scene with this self-described “analogue” bar at the new Shoreditch High Street Hotel, 100 Shoreditch. Saying “potato” is too gauche, so the snack of choice is tattie smilies, but the cocktails themselves are classics optimised with soul, rather than coldness: a bracing sansho leaf martini that still leads with “very cold” vodka; a bright whisky sour with meadowsweet and woodruff; and a penicillin that uses agave spirits instead of the peaty stuff. All told, these are cocktails delivering new ideas so solid that they feel like they’ve been around forever.

Mayahuel

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Adriana Cavita’s new eponymous Marylebone restaurant is making some Mexican waves, and basement mezcaleria Mayahuel is hoping to get in on the act. Served alongside chutoro tostadas and oysters with a Clamato granita, Manuel Lema’s drinks menu has an expected focus on the variety and nuances of agave spirits, with mezcal flights and a range of smart cocktails, including the inevitable and excellent margarita.

Nightjar Carnaby

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This new Carnaby version of the Old Street institution actually allows its drinkers to sit at the bar, which is a significant departure. Less of a departure is the clever, witty menu, which divides the history of the cocktail into pre-, during, and post-prohibition. Add in sharing cocktails, a rare spirits list to get lost in, and glamorous decor, and it’s all set up to be another hit.

Mezcaleria @ Kol

Matthias Ingelmann’s contribution to Santiago Lastra’s hyped Mexican debut Kol continues on from predecessor Maxim Schulte: a clever cocktail menu which takes a duo of ingredients key to Lastra’s menu and fashions them into two different cocktails from a roster of classic serves. So sorrel and hops become a mezcal sour and a rum fizz, while cucumber and pine are deployed in a martini and a highball.

Le Magritte Bar & Terrace

Ceci ... well it is a cocktail bar, actually: a stylish one, with a menu split between ceci n’est pas house drinks named for Magritte artworks, and ceci classics named for their being cocktails. There are a few --globally inspired-- snacks, but being honest, little would do better than a martini and some corndogs.

Seed Library

Ryan Chetiyawardana — Mr Lyan — returns to the London cocktail scene with this self-described “analogue” bar at the new Shoreditch High Street Hotel, 100 Shoreditch. Saying “potato” is too gauche, so the snack of choice is tattie smilies, but the cocktails themselves are classics optimised with soul, rather than coldness: a bracing sansho leaf martini that still leads with “very cold” vodka; a bright whisky sour with meadowsweet and woodruff; and a penicillin that uses agave spirits instead of the peaty stuff. All told, these are cocktails delivering new ideas so solid that they feel like they’ve been around forever.

Mayahuel

Adriana Cavita’s new eponymous Marylebone restaurant is making some Mexican waves, and basement mezcaleria Mayahuel is hoping to get in on the act. Served alongside chutoro tostadas and oysters with a Clamato granita, Manuel Lema’s drinks menu has an expected focus on the variety and nuances of agave spirits, with mezcal flights and a range of smart cocktails, including the inevitable and excellent margarita.

Nightjar Carnaby

This new Carnaby version of the Old Street institution actually allows its drinkers to sit at the bar, which is a significant departure. Less of a departure is the clever, witty menu, which divides the history of the cocktail into pre-, during, and post-prohibition. Add in sharing cocktails, a rare spirits list to get lost in, and glamorous decor, and it’s all set up to be another hit.

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