As day turns to night and thoughts turn to after-hours fun, there’s plenty of excellent cocktail clubs dotted throughout the capital. From vintage-themed rooms, to hidden speakeasy’s, as well as the many cocktail clubs Soho has to offer. Whether you’re on a ‘cocktail-crawl’, night out with friends, or looking for romantic spot, there’s a number of unmissable places for cocktail lovers. One thing to note about cocktail clubs in London is that you’ll want to look the part, so fix up look sharp, and come on a journey – your challenge is to tick-off as many clubs you can of a night. Start at 6pm, and finish late!
Your cocktail journey starts at Lyaness at the Sea Containers Hotel in Southbank – within walking distance of Waterloo station. One of London’s newest and most revered establishments, this high-end bar has some of the best mixologists in the capital. Voted as one of the ‘Top 50 World’s Best Bars’, it welcomes you in with plush blue sofas, modern deco and wistful views overlooking the River Thames. Using seven signature ingredients, their experimental cocktail club menu will alight your senses. The ‘Soy Wax Old Fashioned’ is a fun twist on a classic, for those that enjoy this heady mix. Or for those with a lighter palette, the ‘Banana Fitzgerald’ mixes gin, banana liquor and tones of blueberry, lemon and coffee in this sweet and savoury concoction. Great for first dates, or those looking to impress, Lyaness delivers all the five-star treatment.
With the night still young, take a (half hour) walk over Waterloo Bridge to Soho. Hidden in the many walkways of Chinatown, you’ll stumble across a hidden basement. This unassuming door brings you to one of the best cocktail clubs Sohohas to offer. As its name suggests, the Experimental Cocktail Club has a compelling menu of speakeasy inspired tipples. Nod at your favourite spirit, and the talented mixologist will conjure up a treat. When in doubt, try the ‘Spring it On’ – a fragrant mix of gin, violet, raspberry cacao, lemon, elderflower and lavender bitters – it’s nothing short of a taste sensation. And that’s exactly what you can expect in this hidden boudoir in the depths of Soho. Seating is limited, and space is small, however this all contributes to its feeling of exclusivity. There is no guest list, but despite its covert appearance, it does attract the crowds, so arrive early to avoid disappointment.
Two cocktails down, four to go! Next on the list is Opium – a cocktail emporium a few streets away. Strategically placed third on your list with good reason; as well as punchy cocktails, there’s a dim-sum menu to enjoy in this prime cocktail club Soho. Split into two floors, head to the top ‘Apothecary’ bar. This is where things get interesting. Here medicine bottles and feng-shui inspired cocktails are based on Chinese homeopathic remedies. There’s an impressive signature list of cocktails, as well as other fun innovations such as ‘The Entrepreneur’ and ‘The Celebrity’. A personal favourite is the ‘Hong Kong Spring Punch’ an Asian twist on a Caribbean favourite, highly-quaffable for those that like Prosecco! You could stay all night… except your next challenge beckons - a short 10-minute walk away in Aldwych.
On the brink of Covent Garden lies Cellar Door, an unassuming diminutive club with room for a handful of cocktail lovers; sixty to be precise. This subterranean venue is just off the beaten track enough to attract a well-clued up crowd. As such, everyone is here for a good time. Just as well with cabaret style performance, and the occasional drag Queen thrown in for good measure. It feels like a cross between a speakeasy New York basement bar and an East End knees up - what’s not to love! Order a classic Negroni, and you’ll blend right in.
For your penultimate adventure, it’s time to get on the tube from Covent Garden to Old Street (requiring a change in Kings Cross). Half an hour later you’ll find yourself in Shoreditch. Nightjar is an alcohol alchemy worth the journey. Harking back to the speakeasy days, it boasts a well-considered experimental cocktail club menu. With a backdrop of light jazz and blues playing away, you’ll feel instantly transported to a bygone era. The drinks menu is insatiable, but do try a ‘Moonlight Fizz’ for sophistication in a glass.
If you can tear yourself away from the delights of Nightjar, Callooh Callay awaits you for a final nightcap! This hip Hackney hangout is one of the top experimental cocktail clubs Shoreditch has to offer, and there are many. This lively and fun-fuelled bar is open till 1am, so arrive in good time to soak up the party vibes. From virgin (non-alcoholic) cocktails, to innovative concoctions, the menu has something for all tastes. For something a little different, ‘Drinks & Beats’ is an interesting fusion of Grey Goose vodka, elderflower liquid and a touch of beetroot, that’s right beetroot! What better way to round off your night out.