The Little Orange Door
Rupert Hohwieler 05/10/22
Clapham is home to one of the biggest Aussie/Kiwi contingents in London.
Which means there must be some decent places to drink here…
Clapham Junction station edges more into Battersea territory, but between the two neighbourhoods, your evening’s covered. From a colourful party bar behind an unmarked door to a romantic wine bar in an ex-public bathroom, there’s plenty of neat places in SW4 and SW11 not named Infernos where you can enjoy a decent tipple (no shade on Infernos, mind you – it has a time and place).
To point you in the right direction, we’ve gone and done the dirty work and rounded up all the best bars in Clapham Junction, as well as those worth the trip into Clapham proper…
Whenever Paris and Battersea Rise are involved in the same conversation, this little wine bar and bistro is normally the culprit. Its rustic interior of bentwood chairs, dark tables and old posters and bottles lining the walls often draws comparisons to the chic neighbourhood spots that you might stumble upon in the French capital – and its list of organic-leaning wines acquired from small, independent growers (available by the bottle, glass or carafe) has many admirers as well. Considering Soif comes from the minds who gave us Terroirs (RIP) and Brawn, you can also bet your bottom dollar that the food here lives up to its billing: roast chicken croquettes with aioli, tomato tartine & basil crème fraîche… that’s why it’s one of the best restaurants in Clapham too.
Details: 27 Battersea Rise, SW11 1HG | Book here
Not satisfied with simply being a pub or a bar, Four Thieves is also an arcade, escape room, gaming room (with foosball and table tennis), micro-brewery, comedy club, crazy golf site, virtual reality booth and Moonshine Raceway, which is kind of like life-size remote control racing. Basically, they’ve tried to fit anything that’s fun – and anything that’s even more fun when paired with alcohol – into one large, former Victorian music hall. It works of course, and the other thing they have large quantities of is gin (67 types) because they’re also a gin distillery…
Details: 51 Lavender Gardens, Battersea, SW11 1DJ | Book here
Pizza, booze, fun and live music – all seven nights of the week. Nothing overly complicated, but it’s the bulletproof formula that makes Northcote Records one of the best bars in Clapham Junction. Here, vinyl reigns supreme: adorning the walls, lining the bar and providing the soundtrack during those peaceful moments when there’s not a performance on (anything from indie grunge to wedding band cheese). It’s something punters wax lyrical about…
Details: 8-10 Northcote Road, SW11 1NT | Book here
Even though it’s been a major success story with branches across the city, there’s never any ego on show when you visit Humble Grape. At their bar in Clapham Junction, the staff take pride in their easy-going attitudes where they want you to know as much about wine as they do (so expect some friendly back and forth as you choose your bottle) and they source most of their selection from the smaller, sustainable and relatively unheard of vineyards. As an independent wine bar where most of the bottles (for the record, there’s around 400 here, mostly leaning on the biodynamic side) are imported directly, the prices are also, well, modest…
Details: 2 Battersea Rise, London SW11 1ED | Book here
Venn Street Records
If Venn Street Records feels familiar – with gig posters and an impressive stash of classic album covers plastered on the walls – it’s because it’s from the same peeps behind Northcote Records above (and also Old Street Records in Shoreditch). You could say they have a good record with these live music bars… and here, they stay loyal to their winning recipe of pizza, uncomplicated drinks and live music, without fail, on every night of the week. Oh, and the 2-4-1 cocktail happy hour that runs every evening from 5-8pm.
Details: 78 Venn Street, SW4 0BD | Book here
Proof that London has an innate ability to fashion a drinking spot out of just about any kind of facility, WC’s a bar that offers you the proposition of getting wine-drunk in a candle-lit former public toilet. And no, we’re not taking the piss – you’ll find it directly below Clapham Common tube (follow the WC sign) where the chipped wall tiles and mosaic flooring remains, but the other furnishings have been replaced with rich velvet curtains, secluded booths and reclaimed wooden furnishings. It’s a surprisingly classy affair, and the off-beat setting, solid range of wines (30 or so) and easy-to-pick-at food options make it one of best bars in Clapham for a date…
Details: The Pavement, Clapham Common, SW4 7AA | Book here
No. 32 The Old Town
No 32’s a smart bar: in the aesthetic sense, and also in that it has both a sun-trap terrace and an indoor den of plush velvet sofas and a roaring fireplace at its disposal, meaning that it’s a hot ticket at any time of the year. Along with having its seasonal essentials covered, the bar also knocks up an intriguing range of cocktails that put a different spin on the classics; winter berry negronis, fig old fashioneds, popcorn whiskey sours, apricot & ginger margaritas, and more. It’s one of the best bars in Clapham for drinking outdoors, when you don’t fancy tinnies on the Common…
Details: 32 The Pavement, SW4 0JE | Book here
The founders of The Little Orange Door (a.k.a ‘the flatmates’) have a solid track record when it comes to random unmarked entrances that lead to amazing bars. Their ingenious idea was to create the perfect house party experience, something they’ve already honed with The Little Blue Door in Fulham and The Little Yellow Door in Notting Hill. The result: film-themed cocktails*, scoffable bar bites, bottomless brunches, a Nintendo 64, other people’s dogs and the particularly notable benefit of having nothing to do with the big clean-up at the end of it all…
* There’s a Zoolander drink served in a tea cup with a biscuit, one based on Forrest Gump with lavender-infused gin, one named after Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (a humongous bowl of their house punch for groups of ten), to name a few…
Details: 16a Clapham Common South Side, SW4 7AB | Book here
More of a pub person? Then this list of Clapham’s best pubs might be be of interest to you…
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