Hattie Lloyd 24/07/23
Like a lazy orthodontist, we’re going to have to ask you to brace yourself.
What follows is a list of East London’s best bars, many of which risk eliciting never-before-experienced levels of excitement. There’s bars here for every occasion, budget, and drinking partner. There’s hidden speakeasies. Rooftop date spots. And a timeworn sailors’ drinking den tacked onto London’s only remaining bona fide music hall.
Nightjar | Old Street
Nightjar is a bona fide speakeasy, complete with candlelight, conspiratorial whisperings, rose-tinted mirrors, leather chairs, live jazz and award-winning, strikingly presented cocktails. It’s also a bona fide contender for the best bar in London, full stop.
Details: 129 City Road, EC1V 1JB | Book here
Seed Library | Shoreditch
The latest bar from cocktail whizz Ryan Chetiyawardana, a.k.a. Mr Lyan, a.k.a. the man behind the former #1 bar in the world (Dandelyan, before he closed it and reopened it as Lyaness). Serving classic cocktails with a twist on the ingredients, it’s a louche subterranean den beneath the 100 Shoreditch hotel…
Details: 100 Shoreditch High Street, E1 6JQ | Book here
TT Liquor | Shoreditch
An old Victorian police station, crammed with a rare and unusual bottle-shop, a cocktail-making workshop, a tiny cinema, a roof terrace, and a basement cocktail den with booths inside the former detention cells.
Details: 17b Kingsland Road, E2 8AA | Book here
Lounge Bohemia | Shoreditch
Probably London’s best subterranean molecular cocktail bar styled after a 1960s lounge bar from the Czech Republic.
Details: 1e Great Eastern Street, Hackney, London, EC2A 3EJ | Book via 07720707000
Barge East | Hackney Wick
Back in 2017 a trio of childhood friends decided that they wanted to open a bar & restaurant in the new Olympic Park. So they went to Holland, found a 117 year-old barge, sailed it across the North Sea, and anchored it in the canal at Hackney Wick. As you’d expect. They then went ahead and converted it into an absolutely gorgeous floating eatery, whereupon you can get a well-picked wine list, spritzers, plus cocktails like the classic Negroni, and the not-so-classic Sex with the Captain. And plenty of Dutch lagers.
Details: Sweetwater Mooring, River Lee, White Post Lane, E9 5EN | Book here
Equal Parts | Haggerston
Michael Sager is up to his old tricks again – i.e opening up one of the best bars in East London. The man behind Sager + Wilde (also on this list), has taken over the lime-tiled building on the corner of Hackney Road and turned it into a effortlessly cool space that feels like an aperitif bar shipped directly from Havana, with vinyl crackling from a record player, whirring fans overhead and intriguing cocktails like the Flor made with olive-oil vodka, sherry and tomato; both savoury and light in equal parts…
Details: 245 Hackney Road, E2 8NA | Book here
Coupette | Bethnal Green
Forget East London – Coupette’s greatness is measured on a global scale, winning numerous accolades and a spot on the World’s Best Bars list in 2019. It’s a dimly-lit, French-inflected drinking den with exposed brick walls, live music and coin-topped bar where the tenders mix up an exhilarating list of cocktails. Choose between the seasonal menu (which currently features the milk punch-styled Crème Brûlée Old Fashioned) and the Coupette classics (like the award-winning Champagne Piña Colada). It’s a real coup for the neighbourhood…
Details: 423 Bethnal Green Road, E2 0AN | Book here
Discount Suit Company | Brick Lane
A textbook date spot tucked away in a tailor’s old stock room, with Motown records and cocktails mixed by barkeeps fully fluent in the language of good drinks.
Details: 29 Wentworth Street, E1 7TB | Book here
The Culpeper | Brick Lane
Home to the greatest rooftop garden in East London, rain or shine. Meanwhile, the ground floor tavern is the perfect spot for a cocktail… or a glass of wine… or a craft cider… or a Sunday roast.
Details: 40 Commercial Street, Spitalfields, E1 6LP | Book here
The Sun Tavern | Bethnal Green
A rickety corner bar that was opened by the team behind Discount Suit Company just a few years ago, but looks like it’s been around much longer thanks to the peeling plasterwork and old-school fittings. Come with a big group, drink poitín (a formerly banned Irish spirit), and make memories.
Details: 441 Bethnal Green Road, London, E2 0AN | Book here
Mahogany Bar, Wilton’s Music Hall | Whitechapel
Sailors and lovers have been frequenting The Mahogany Bar at Wilton’s since 1725. On Mondays, croon-worthy pianists type catalogues of jazz and soul music all night for free.
Details: Wilton’s Music Hall, Graces Alley, E1 8JB | Reserve for big tables here
The Zetter Townhouse | Clerkenwell
The most sumptuous and intriguing of all London cocktail bars: packed with curios and oddities, it’s a den of lived in luxury, and easily one of the best bars in East London.
Details: St John’s Square, Clerkenwell, EC1V 4JJ | Book here
Boundary | Shoreditch
Shoreditch has seen it all: nuns, factory owners, criminals and prostitutes. Now it boasts a roof terrace with 360-degree views across the chimneys of the East End. And hipsters.
Details: Boundary Hotel, Boundary Street, Shoreditch, E2 7DD | Walk-ins only for drinks
Sager + Wilde | Hackney
Top calibre, predominately Californian wines sold by the glass over a bar of reclaimed cast iron cellar doors. And as far as good aesthetics go… Yes, this is literally as far as good aesthetics go.
Details: Hackney Road, Hackney, E2 8JL | Book here
Satan’s Whiskers | Bethnal Green
A suave, award-winning cocktail bar nestled between newsagents, mini-cab offices and strip clubs with an illuminated icebox on the bar full of sliced tropical fruits.
Details: 343 Cambridge Heath Road, Bethnal Green, E2 9RA | Book on 02077398362
Three Sheets | Dalston
Three sections on the menu. Three drinks in a section. Three sheets to the wind by the time you’re finished. The menu changes every week at this laid-back bar, giving you plenty of excuses to return.
Details: 510b Kingsland Road, E8 4AE | No bookings
Tayēr + Elementary | Old Street
Currently ranked as the 2nd best bar in the world, and therefore, quite possibly the best bar in East London. It’s a place of two halves. Up front: one-sip martinis and cocktails on tap. Out back: inventive cocktails made with serious care and a forensic dedication to detail.
Details: 152 Old Street, EC1V 9BW | Walk-ins only
Brilliant Corners | Dalston
You’ll find Brilliant Corners in the middle of Kingsland Road, and it does three things really really well: casual Japanese food, natural wines, and excellent music. The moodily dark casual-minimalist space includes a permanently manned, one-of-a-kind DJ setup, and a set of toweringly huge, glowing McIntosh amps to pump out the absurdly good tunes they play. Behind the bar there are simple cocktails, fancy beers, and a whole bunch of super-interesting-yet-reasonably-priced natural wines. Brilliant indeed.
Details: 470 Kingsland Rd, E8 4AE | Book here
Finished exploring the best bars in East London? Celebrate by dining at one of the best restaurants in Shoreditch
Got A Tip? Email [email protected]
Log In to add this to My Saved Articles
Not a member and want to find out more then click here
7 Day Free Trial
Member Log In
We rely on member reviews to help keep The Nudge honest, accurate & continually up to date with the very best of London - so thank you!