Outdoor terraces and open-air seating arrangements have given the city’s wine bars, in particular, a much-needed lifeline. Drinking al fresco is, after all, the safest way to enjoy the company of others and an ice-cold glass without getting too close for comfort. So, if looking for somewhere to organise a much overdue hang, here’s where to drink wine outside in London this spring and summer.Read More
Where to Drink Wine Outside in London
Where to find bubbly pet-nat, chilled, gluggable reds, and more in the sunshine
1. Westerns Laundry
Westerns Laundry’s courtyard is open from 6pm on weekdays and all day on the weekend, a lush and verdant haven for superb wine and pintxos-esque snacks. Give a bottle of Muscadet a portion of piping-hot salt cod beignets for company under a canopy of trees and it’s easy to realise why this Highbury favourite is considered one of the best wine bars in the city.
2. Newcomer Wines Dalston
The ongoing collaboration between Newcomer Wines and John Chantarasak’s AngloThai is one of the best excuses to dine and drink al fresco in the city. Taking place every weekend, in what seems like a perennially sun-dappled corner of Dalston, each seating is a perfect representation of how great food and excellent wine can tie together seamlessly. Imagine a fresh som tam paired with a gravelly Riesling.
Occupying a light and airy spot just off London Fields, Bright’s outdoor terrazzo is a great location for drinking skin-contact without initiating any. The wine list is a thoughtful and expansive who’s who of the natural vine scene with bottles ranging from £28 all the way up to the healthy hundreds. Fair warning though: the terrace isn’t available to reserve and is kept for walk-ins only.
Ombra is a Venetian restaurant and wine bar that’s nailed outdoor drinking and dining. That’s the short of it. The long of it is that, situated just a few steps from the Regent’s Canal, Ombra’s big old terrace is practically begging drinkers to while away a couple of hours drinking Italian grapes and chatting absolute breeze. It’s not Venice, but it’s as close as anyone’s going to get anytime soon.
5. Royale @ East London Liquor Company
Pandemic pivots don’t get much more pivot-y than Royale: the simple and satisfying rotisserie chicken concept launched by the folks behind Shoreditch’s Leroy. Taking up residency at the East London Liquor Company, Royale can be found roosted here on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays with a selection of wine on-tap courtesy of the ever-reliable Uncharted Wines. From award-winning English wines to Catalonian deep cuts, there’s plenty of royally good drinking to be had here.
Summers are made for lazy days, nothing but easy conversation and, hell, maybe a cold flannel or two to mop your brow. Summers are, in essence, made for spots like Campania and Jones. Snuggled off Columbia Road, C&J’s outdoor tables are a perfect fit for the balmier months of the year, providing Londoners with a slice of peace and normalcy that’s as vast as it is lovely. The healthy selection of Italian wines won’t leave anyone wanting.
7. Sager + Wilde Restaurant
Whether drinking by the glass or the bottle, Sager + Wilde’s spacious terrace is an excellent rink for wine consumption. It’s easy to spend a lot of time and money here. Not because it’s expensive, but because whether in the mood for a trocken Riesling or a rich and elegant Barbaresco, Sager + Wilde has every wine desire sorted. Plus, who can resist a salumi board draped with glossy mortadella?
8. Rochelle Canteen
Walking into the scenic outdoor seating at this Shoreditch hang will have budding drinkers feeling smitten on arrival before leaving with a stomach full of butterflies and wine. It doesn’t matter whether they’re pushing the boat out with a Premier Cru or sticking to the tried and tested St John Rouge, Rochelle Canteen’s summer house vibe makes anything feel kind of extra.
9. Quality Wines
The outside tables at Quality Wines are saved for walk-ins only, which means Londoners have got to be pretty lucky to nab one of those coveted tables when the weather’s looking lovely. The small plates at QW are superlative and the wines — broad in range and fit-to-burst on the bijou bar’s shelves — are just as quality as its name would suggest. Good things come in small packages, after all. And good wine bars serve gildas.
10. Noble Rot Wine Bar & Restaurant
Noble Rot doesn’t have a wine list, Noble Rot has a wine tome — a big, thick doorstop of a thing that’s filled with more quality producers than Island Records. Noble Rot’s interior is a testament to minimalist design and sensible taste. But occupying a couple of seats outside of the restaurant under the blaring sun with someone special and a bottle of something soigné? That’s hard to beat.
11. The Winemakers Club
The Winemakers Club specialises in organic and biodynamic wines sourced from small, traditional winemakers. Whether enjoying a pebble beach-y Verdejo from Rueda-based Ismael Gozalo or a sparkling Pinot Gris shipped in all the way from the Meinklang estate, it’s hard not to appreciate the craftsmanship and care that’s gone into each and every bottle that The Winemakers Club sells. When it comes to the seating, though it might not be able to top up the tan when sat under the exposed-brick belly of the Holborn Viaduct, it’s still light, breezy, and about as London as it gets.
12. The 10 Cases
Before Covid-19 came and ruined, well, everything, sitting outside The 10 Cases and watching the world go by was probably a top ten thing to do in London. There are admittedly fewer people to be people-watching at this current moment in time but when the sun is out there’s still not many better places to be than perched on Endell Street with a glass of chilled Grenache Blanc. Get ready for its reopening on 1 September.
13. Riding Wine Co
Ealing (according to Wikipedia, at least) has long been known as the “Queen of the Suburbs”. If that really is the case then Riding Wine Co. is undoubtedly one of the jewels in its hefty crown. The selection here includes over 190 natural wines, and the outside seating area, which spills out onto Dickens Yard like wine out of a fallen glass, is ideal for finding out if anyone can pull off saying “natty juice” out loud.
Elliot’s summer outdoor pop-up, Ell Fresco, is a damned good reason to head to Stoney Street when the sun is shining. The daily-changing menu of small plates and the all-natural wine list will keep any London restaurant bingo card looking strong while the char-flecked wood-fired pizzas are perfect for lining a gut about to be filled with Gut Oggau.
15. Bedales of Borough Market
Bedales has adapted to the imperfect storm of oven-like weather and enforced social distancing by allowing its seating to run out and over the streets of Borough Market like a scene from Fellini’s Roma. Enjoying a post-work glass here is a thing of genuine beauty. The independent, family-owned wine bar rarely misses its mark and, honestly, if someone can’t find something they fancy drinking at Bedales... All hope is lost. Near neighbour Flor is also a great shout if seeking pizza to go with wine.
16. 40 Maltby Street
Considering that it’s tied to Gergovie Wines — a wine importer that specialises in a select group of natural winemakers who abstain from chemical fertilisers and pesticides — it’s no surprise that 40 Maltby Street is one of the finest places to enjoy an al fresco drop in London. The wines are always interesting and the staff on-hand are some of the most knowledgeable in the city. Sit back in the sun with a bottle of Beaujolais and watch Maltby Street go by.
17. Diogenes The Dog
It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog. And the size of Diogenes the Dog isn’t something to worry about now that the Elephant and Castle wine bar has opened up its terrace for the summer. A far-cry from a stuffy central London label-shagger bottle shop, Diogenes stocks some pretty out-there wines from small, relatively unknown producers. Where else could you get your hands on a Welsh pet-nat, a Texan Blanc du Bois and a Canadian chardonnay? Nowhere else.
18. Peckham Cellars
Open Thursday to Saturday from 12-10pm, Peckham Cellars’ terrace is exactly where to go when the sun has got its ironic dad hat on. The wines are good, the vibes are good, and the people behind it, Helen Hall, Ben McVeigh, and Jay Claus? They’re good people, too. Peckham Cellars: It’s good.
19. Forza Wine
London SE15 4BQ, UK
It isn’t just the remarkable view of the London skyline that makes Forza Wine the perfect place for sundowners in Peckham but, rather, a heady combination of that cinematic vista with its robust Italian-leaning wine list. Strapping bottles of Chianti, Gargenega, and Ciliegiolo are in good health here alongside a range of wines available by the glass. Saluti.
20. The Laundry Brixton
Guess what The Laundry used to be? An actual laundry! Guess what it is now? Why, it’s an excellent all-day bistro and wine shop of course! Okay, maybe not an obvious guess, but a single glance at The Laundry’s well spaced-out terrace does make it obvious that this is a really lovely place to come for a glass of, say, Marlborough Pinot Noir.
Choose from one of the dozen outside tables, situated in a covered section of Brixton Village market, and prepare for a far more difficult decision revolving around what to drink. Serbian Kövidinka? South African Chenin Blanc? Whatever drinkers go for at Salon, it’s bound to be good.
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