Alfred Le Roy
Set aboard a canal boat, Alfred Le Roy is not one for the landlubbers. Dispel any notions of cramped barge holidays spent wedged into a single room with nothing but snoring relatives and a set of Scrabble for entertainment; Alfred Le Roy is a spacious, comfortable cocktail bar that just happens to cruise up and down the River Lea. The whole cabin is lined with windows, so everyone gets the chance to watch the world drift by, all the while sipping on a cocktail (we recommend the Toffee Apple Sour) and nibbling at a cheeseboard.
Canalside Mooring, Queens Yard, White Post Lane, Hackney Wick, London E9 5EN
Bōkan’s rooftop bar and terrace is the ideal spot to enjoy casual drinks and astonishing views – at the same time feeling a million miles away from the corporate cut and thrust of the Canary Wharf streets below. Fully heated, the terrace is extra special in winter, with the skyline illuminated against the night’s sky. Head over on a Sunday to watch the sun setting to a live jazz soundtrack.
40 Marsh Wall, Floor 38 & 39, London E14 9TP
Back in the days when cocktail bars were a rare occurrence in Shoreditch (can you imagine?) Callooh Callay was something of a trendsetter. Now, a decade later, it is one of the area’s most well-established bars, winning numerous awards for their cocktails. We love the ethos of their inclusive members’ club, JubJub – it’s free to join because they care more about the people in their bar than the money in their bank accounts.
65 Rivington Street, London EC2A 3AY
Situated in a 160 year-old building, with its exposed brick walls and air of ‘industrial chic’, this Bethnal Green boozer takes the art of the cocktail very seriously. If you hadn’t guessed from the name, which loosely translates as ‘a cheeky one’, Coupette has a subtle French theme running throughout both their decor (a bar topped with vintage 10-franc coins) and their vast drinks menu. Many tipples include French favourites such as champagne and Calvados, as well as an array of ciders. Say bonjour to your cheeky
new date-night spot.
423 Bethnal Green Road, London E2 0AN
Discount Suit Company
Contrary to what the name suggests, this is not the place to get suited and booted on the cheap. Discount Suit Company is housed in the old storeroom of what was a Petticoat Lane suit shop. Spend an intimate, informal evening here with a couple of mates and a sharing-sized carafe filled with a fruity, spicy cocktail – all accompanied by the sound of soul music. The stuff Friday nights are made of.
29A Wentworth Street, Aldgate, London E1 7TB
East London Liquor Company
Once the home of London distilling, the East End has finally gone back to its roots. After 100 years, East London Liquor Company is the first vodka, gin and whisky distillery to grace this fine end of town. Join them for simply sublime, classic cocktails, made using their own spirits, like the Christmas Rum One cocktail – a festive delight made with Demerara rum, cider vinegar, satsuma liquor and black tea. And, if you want to go behind the scenes, you can pop into their distillery at the old glue factory in Bow Wharf to find out where the magic happens.
Unit Gf1, Bow Wharf, 221 Grove Road, London E3 5SN
Street food is on the menu at Giant Robot – the vast, vibrant Canary Wharf rooftop bar with five different food stalls. Open late, it is the perfect place to grab something speedy, whether it’s a boxful of dumplings from Yumpling, fried chicken from Thunderbird or steak, chips, and all the dips from Stakehaus. But with a 36-tap beer bar to get through, you’ll probably find yourself staying the evening.
Crossrail Place, Canary Wharf E14 5AR
Hoxton Square Bar
Ideal for uncovering new music, Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen saw performances from the likes of Florence and the Machine, Mumford and Sons, Vampire Weekend, Foals and Lianne La Havas early in their careers. Live performance is a vital element of this intimate venue, and if that doesn’t tempt you in, their legendary chicken wings surely will. For every two basket of wings you buy on a Wednesday, you’ll get one free. See them off with a couple of their extraordinary cocktails.
2-4 Hoxton Square, London N1 6NU
Iris Bar at The Gherkin
City of London
If you’re feeling flush and want to treat someone special to a truly jaw-dropping date, head into The City. Once there, you will have to brave the vertigo and make your way up to level 40 of The Gherkin, where you’ll find Iris Bar. Although there are other places to enjoy London’s cityscape from above, this is the only spot where you where can enjoy 360ᵒ panoramic views. Not only does the Iris boast an impressive cocktail menu, but magnums of champagne are available for £99 throughout November. Just remember to book ahead.
30 St Mary Axe, London EC3A 8EP
London Cocktail Trading Company
The brainchild of three bartenders, this award-winning cocktail bar has an inimitable drinks menu that’s hard to beat on quirkiness, creativity and delight-factor. Try Royal-Mail-Aged Air Mail (with seven- year-aged rum, clarified lime, chestnut honey), or Violet Fizz, which is violet liqueur, Belvedere, lemon sherbet and milk shaken with nitrous oxide. Our favourite has to be Welcome to Tennessee, Have a Nice Day; a Jack Daniels-based cocktail with spiced Matcha Plum Wine, Cardamom-Ginger Brew and Yuzu Juice which comes in a noodle box complete with crispy noodles on top! Add to that a 1920s-inspired ambient buzz, and you’ll soon find yourself lured in for the evening. If you’re really taken with your tipple, you can book into a masterclass for the chance to get behind the bar and make your own cocktails.
68 Bethnal Green Road, Bethnal Green, London E1 6GQ
If you can’t end a night out without a kebab the size of your forearm, then Lounge Bohemia is your kind of joint. Wedged surreptitiously between a kebab shop and Shoreditch Box Park, it is the perfect spot for clandestine meetings, secretive soirees, or just a great night spent drinking fantastically experimental cocktails. Think fizzy alcoholic gummy bears, drinks served in toothpaste tubes, and all manner of smoking, spitting concoctions. Decked out with Soviet-style furnishings, the Czech theme continues to the beer menu, perfect if European beer is your thing. Suits are discouraged and entrance is by appointment only, so dress down and practise your best phone voice if you want the chance to see it from the inside.
1E Great Eastern Street, London, Shoreditch, London EC2A 3EJ
Mrs Fogg’s Maritime Club & Distillery
Londoners with a penchant for mother’s ruin will be long-acquainted with the eponymous Mr Fogg, the intrepid adventurer who traversed the world in 80 days and inspired the now thriving empire of olde-worlde cocktail bars dotted around London (we love his Covent Garden gin parlour). It turns out Mr Fogg’s better half (his Indian wife Aouda) is also something of a gin fiend, and has recently docked her steamer in Broadgate. The result is a Victorian-era time-capsule, serving up inventive cocktails and innovative dishes inspired by India. Revellers can also shake their own cocktails using a custom-designed Rickshaw in the engine room.
37 Broadgate Circle, London EC2M 2QS
This cosy rooftop is your secret, laid-back local. Leave your office attire at home, as casual clothing is actively encouraged, which all adds to its relaxed vibe. They even have a friendly rooftop dog named Tres to provide canine company, as you watch the sunset over Hackney with a freshly made pizza and a pint of raw draught beer or cider from Hackney-based local brewery Trumans.
1 Westgate Street, London E8 3RL
Set far enough underground that phone signal is off the menu, this suave Stokey bar is the ideal location for good old-fashioned conversation. The long, narrow room is dimly lit in that warm glow that makes everyone and everything look sultry and sophisticated. Challenge friends to a free game of pool after a few cocktails served by truly knowledgeable, friendly staff.
129 Stoke Newington High Street, London N16 0PH
Queen of Hoxton
This is a venue of slashes – multifaceted, you could say – with it being a bar/nightclub/roof terrace/art gallery/performance space. Renowned for its gigs and pop-up events, it’s the perfect place to go if you fancy more than just a drink. Check out the ground floor for weekly parties, ukulele workshops, and a games area with table-football, pinball, a ping pong table and retro arcade games. Head upstairs for drinks on the zany rooftop, which undergoes a transformation twice-yearly, or downstairs to the basement bar for club nights, comedy shows and cabaret gigs.
1-5 Curtain Road, Shoreditch, London EC2A 3JX
The Last Tuesday Society
A literary salon. An absinthe parlour. A museum of curiosities. This hidden Prohibition-esque establishment is so much more than your average candle-lit cocktail bar. Proprietor and pataphysician Viktor Wynd has created a world filled with beauty, wonder and imagination through ‘a veritable feast of experiences and productions.’ The bar can be found hidden within The Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities, Fine Art & Natural History – a treasure trove of taxidermy and trinkets, from shrunken heads and witch paraphernalia to erotic books and fine art. Their ‘L’Heure Verte’ is 6-7pm every weekday, so if you fancy a dance with the ‘Green Fairy’ herself, that’s the time to sample one of their Absinthe cocktails.
11 Mare Street, London E8 4RP
The Sun Tavern
With tankards lining the walls and a bar bursting at the seams with bottles of whisky, this cosy 1850s’ pub in the heart of the East End is the place to go for a proper drink. One of their stand-out features is their awe-inspiring selection of poitín, a clear Irish spirit renowned for its potency, with a strength of 40-90%.
If you like what you see (or can’t see, after a few glasses) you can buy a bottle of whatever you’re drinking to take away with you from their in-house
off-licence. Cheers to that!
441 Bethnal Green Road, Bethnal Green, London E2 0AN
Wringer + Mangle
Housed in the cavernous shell of an old industrial laundry building, this buzzy bar restaurant is now also home to the ever-popular Dine + Drag. Every Friday, it comes alive with some of the best drag acts in the city. Expect a colourful set menu, flowing drinks, and live music and dancing from one of their fabulous queens. The plant-clad bar and snug outside terrace are perfect for a lively tipple before heading downstairs to see out the rest of the night in the vast club. Luckily, their recovery bottomless brunches on a Saturday morning are just as fun, and come with equally as delicious cocktails.
13-18 Sidworth Street, Hackney E8 3SD