The 5 best cocktail bars in London

1) Mark's Bar

A plush, old-school drinking den with a warm and dimly-lit ambiance. It appears civilised, but this place encourages decadence. The unusual cocktail list is informed by a centuries old history of British drinking tradition with one section named ‘Early British Libations’. Sit at the long bar if you want to enjoy the theatre of preparing a Zombie or Shipwreck Blazer.

interior of Mark's bar

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

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.

a beer

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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