We know there are plenty of reasons to visit London, but at the end of the day, you come to London to see the home of great royal palaces and hover at the edges of high society. Walking alongside luxury in palaces or posh neighborhoods is one thing, but modern London is truly experienced in bars.
London is one of the world’s great cocktail meccas. The once home of the gin craze is experiencing both a gin and cocktail renaissance already years long, and with each season it only gets better.
We’ve assembled a dozen of our favorite places to drink like royalty—where we go for taste and atmosphere, because either one on its own isn’t really the royal treatment, now, is it?
Named the best bar in the world too many times to count, the American Bar is where style comes to get loose. A pianist plays in the center of the room. White glove service and flawless presentation make every drink feel like a royal welcome. And the inventive but welcoming cocktail menu will keep you coming back over and over again.
What to Drink: Let the bartender decide.
A gorgeous, deco-styled space, the Connaught’s menu is flawless. But the signature sip is their bespoke martini cart, where Tanqueray 10 is paired with an array of bitters and a custom blend of vermouths, meaning you’ll get the martini of your dreams (with some experimentation).
What to Drink: A martini.
Dukes may feel a bit like a step back in time, but that’s because it’s a part of drinking history. If the martini wasn’t invented here, it certainly was perfected. Head bartender Allesandro Palazzi is a legend for his skill, but his martini’s perfection is in its simplicity.
What to Drink: Anything Allesandro tells you to.
The drinks flow well here, but it’s the cigar selection that really blows you away. One of the few places you can drink and smoke at the same time in London (and arguably the best) this room is a bit hidden from the public, with a cigar selection fit for royalty and a staff that will take care of you as such.
What to Drink: Whisky, neat.
Hotel 41 was a royal holding for years until it was sold off and converted into a gorgeous high-end hotel. Countless gorgeous locations around the space are open to serve drinks including the one above. Our favorite just happens to be the honor bar (accessible to guests of the hotel only). It’s warm and inviting—the perfect parlor before or after your night on the town.
What to Drink: Your nightcap.
The Montague’s talented bar staff with mix up classic favorites all night for you in the Leopard Lounge, but for your second drink pick something with some big flavors and body, and have it delivered outside on the cigar porch. It’s heated year-round, and the cigar selection is impressive.
What to Drink: Champagne first, then follow your instincts.
Scout is one of London’s trendiest drinkeries. Their focus is on sustainable, locally sourced ingredients, meaning you’ll get a totally different drinking experience depending on what season you visit them. We’re sure the green initiative would drive some posh traffic even if the drinks weren’t great, but the cocktails feel enhanced, not limited.
What to Drink: Bartender’s choice, definitely.
Mr. Fogg’s Gin Parlour, named for British adventurer Phineas J. Fogg, is a whimsical and weird place—you almost feel as if you’re entering the 19th century home of an eccentric scientist. The drink options are many: over 300 gins to try, mix with tonic or vermouth, or whatever your creative side wishes.
What to Drink: Gin—we just said that.
This 52-floor hotel bar is worth a stop for nothing other than the view; near panoramic visions of London are photo worthy before, during, and after sunset. But don’t use up all the free space in your phone too quickly. In addition to an amazing Champagne list, their cocktails are varied and delicious.
What to Drink: Champagne first, then explore the menu.
Private clubs have long been part of London’s social scene, but while many of the older ones rely on military service, lineage or University affiliation to pick their members, Chess Club is a newer, more eccentric membership. We’d suggest you find someone who knows someone and get to playing (chess or otherwise).
What to Drink: Whatever will help you win your game.
Not every great drinking experience needs to be gilded. Three sheets is a tiny bar that, from the street, looks more like an unassuming coffee shop (it is one, during the day!) than the home of masterful cocktail concoctions. Perhaps that unassuming simplicity is why it draws us in. We don’t think you’ll get much work done, but feel free to have a coffee first, then a drink later once you’re all wrapped for the day.
What to Drink: French 75 or Almond Flower Sour.
Another previous best bar winner, Artesian is one of those bars you can’t do justice to by word of mouth. It’s a great place to do some serious, prime-time drinking, but if you really want to take your time and enjoy the menu, come at off-peak hours so you can let one of the bartenders really show you what they can do.
What to Drink: Ease in with the Bicicleta, and end (after a few more stops) with the Bobby Burns.