Making it onto our top cocktail bar list, so far this year, The Lowback bar at Hawksmoor Wood Wharf is worth a trip out of your way, just a skip and a hop from Canary Wharf tube station. You’ll quickly find the bar and restaurant twinkling at night on the water, welcoming you aboard the floating pavilion in the docks of Wood Wharf. While drinks are the thing at the bar below, Hawksmoor’s bar menu is not to be missed, especially the bone marrow oysters and Brixham scallops. The well-thought-out cocktails are killer – made and served with the best ingredients: sour cherry negroni poured over a single block of hand-cut ice and dirty martini’s to die for, made with Boatyard vodka, Fino sherry and Kalamata olive. The atmosphere and service are spot on – a little bit Gatsby glam, with the mix of East London cool.
1 Water Street, London E14 5GX (Canary Wharf tube station – leave by the Montgomery Street exit)
Lord Napier Star
Legendary local watering hole and the only pub in Hackney Wick, the recently opened, vibrant Lord Napier still carries the feel of a proper old East End boozer. The pub offers an oasis to all, whether you’re just popping in for a pint and a chat, a boogie or dinner, the Napier has you covered. Set over three floors you’ll find a warm welcome by the friendly staff. Find your spot at the bar, the comfy booths, on the roof terrace or the two dining rooms where local Krapow are serve up punchy Northern Thai dishes. The Lord Napier is open until midnight during the week and 1.30am on Fridays and Saturdays, there’s a ‘Pub Disco’ every Friday and Saturday nights featuring old-skool R&B, soul, funk, disco and good ol’ house classics.
25 White Post Lane, London E9 5EN
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
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
Duchess of Dalston
Continuing the award-winning cocktail philosophy of Callooh Callay, owner Richard Wynne and his team have created signature drinks infused with home grown herbs from the venue’s flat roof as well as locally sourced ingredients from Ridley Road Market, honey from Bermondsey Street Bees and a local favourite Vietnamese Coffee blend. Along with a showstopping bar menu, whether you’re looking for imaginative, unique £10 cocktails, bottomless boozy weekend brunches or a cosy, caffeine-infused work space during the day, The Duchess of Dalston has got you covered.
392 Kingsland Road, London E8 4AA
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Bokan’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
Ideal for uncovering new music, Colours 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 multi-arts bar and club – and if that doesn’t tempt you in, their legendary chicken wings surely will. See them off with a couple of their extraordinary cocktails.
2-4 Hoxton Square, London N1 6NU
Iris Bar at The Gherkin
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 360? 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
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
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