The 5 best cocktail bars in London

1) Smokey Kudu

Located beneath the brick-lined low ceiling of an inconspicuous Peckham railway arch Smokey Kudu is a cosy South African inspired cocktail bar with plush decor. Specialising in spicy and smokey cocktails the signature drink is a whisky Old Fashioned that’s served bottled with aromatic smoke. Biltong and drywors are on hand should you get peckish.

sleek interior of cocktail bar Smokey Kudu in London

133 Queen’s Road, South

2) Happiness Forgets

Easy to miss at street level, this tiny candlelit bar offers ‘high end cocktails in a low rent basement.’ Known as a bartenders’ bar, the cocktails here are as innovative and inventive as the décor is low-key and understated.

Happiness Forgets in London

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3) Nightjar

This prohibition-style bar in Shoreditch has a great vibe with live jazz and swing music every night after 9. The creative cocktail list is divided into historic eras; pre-prohibition, prohibition, post-war and Nightjar signatures. This is a busy spot, so book ahead.

bar interior of Nightjar

4) Satan's Whiskers

Outside it may resemble a dive bar, with a tiny pink neon sign advertising the enticing name, but inside there’s a more salubrious and quirky bar area which is heavy on the taxidermy. The signature drink features gin, vermouth, Grand Marnier, bitters and orange juice. The soundtrack is old-school hip-hop.

bar interior of Satan's Whiskers

Eugene Krivobokov

343 Cambridge Heath Road, East

+44 (0)20 7739 8362


5) American Bar

Hidden inside the stately Savoy Hotel the American Bar opened in 1893 and was the first in Europe to import the popular US style of mixed liquors. It’s a place of legend where Harry Craddock invented many now-classic cocktails. There’s a jazz-age art deco feel here, polished and elegant, with live piano every evening.

interior of American Bar

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