Jason Allen 02/12/22
The Best Bars in Covent Garden | Wine Bars, Cocktail Bars… Sake Bars
Located just around the corner from Soho and a 20 second tube ride from Leicester Square Station on the Piccadilly line (making it the shortest train journey in London, if you’d like to tick that off your bucket list), Covent Garden – which is home to much of the best London theatre; amazing shops; a world famous market; street performers; the Royal Opera House; and a smorgasbord of wonderful restaurants – gets the most foot traffic out of any area in the city, with roughly 44 million visitors each year. So really it has an obligation to contain a rich variety of decent watering holes…
And a rich variety of decent watering holes it does indeed contain, from standard cocktail bars and pubs (check out our guide to the best pubs in Covent Garden if you’re interested in the latter) to eclectic Victorian gin parlours; candle lit wine caverns; dinky sake dens; a subterranean pastis bar with its very own pétanque pit; and even a place where acrobats perform on your table.
Whatever the occasion may be – pre-theatre drinks, post-theatre drinks, a hot date or celebration – you can be sure to find what you’re after in this guide to the best bars in Covent Garden.
Please read responsibly…
Mr. Fogg’s Tavern
Mr. Fogg’s Tavern is exactly as Dickensian as it sounds – it only opened a few years ago, but stepping inside is like entering a cosy, grog-filled inn from the 19th century. Upstairs is decked out as a gin parlour & salon in which you will, predictably, find lots of gin… and, less predictably, an array of other 19th century-inspired cocktails served from a marble bar that’s located inside a room which looks as though the Victorian era exploded inside it.
Details: 58 St Martin’s Lane, WC2N 4EA | Open daily from 12.01pm till late | Book here
Lady of the Grapes
Lady of the Grapes feels like the sort of bar that’s been around forever – comfortably worn leather seats, old vintage tables, wine bottles lining every inch of the walls – despite only opening its doors a few years ago. Turns out they’ve just got the recipe immediately right with gallons of vino (mostly grown by female producers, hence the name), and cheese, charcuterie, and fondue to share.
Details: 16 Maiden Lane, WC2E 7NJ | Open Mon-Tue from 5pm, Wed-Sun from noon | Book here
The Alligator Bar at Louie
Here’s a piece of refreshing news: Louie has a new aperitivo menu, with a quartet of supremely cooling pre-dinner cocktails. You’ll find the energising Q Spritz (gin, quince, pear, rooibos); the complex Hendricks Negroni (gin, sweet vermouth, Italian bitters); the punchy Absinthe Frappée (absinthe, pear, jasmin); and the restorative Common Advocate (cherry, cacao wine reduction, white wine). So if you find yourself in Covent Garden midweek, in need of some stellar cocktails and an atmosphere of wonderfully refined decadence, then head to Louie – specifically, the third floor, where you’ll find yourself in the Alligator Bar…
Details: 3-15 West St, WC2H 9NE | Open Tuesady-Saturday | Book here
Set beneath inventive restaurant, Frog by Adam Handling, you’ll find one of the best bars in Covent Garden, Adam’s other half – Eve. Beautifully decked out with leafy alcoves and stained glass panels, it’s a suave space that serves mind-bending concoctions like the frozen cube of Black Russian… onto which you’ll pour a White Russian to allow the flavours to gradually shift.
Details: 35 Southampton Street, Covent Garden, WC2E 7HE | Open Mon-Sat from noon-late | Book here
Below Stone Nest
Below Stone Nest is from the minds behind Orasay (which is one of the best restaurants in Notting Hill) and Peckham’s rooftop bar Frank’s. It’s a “beautiful, old fashioned dive bar” underneath a Grade-2 listed chapel in Covent Garden. Not only is the space a serious looker (crumbling brickwork, cast iron pillars and white church candles on every table), but the drinks are decent too. You can choose from a list of classic cocktails, as well as a highly curated list of wine and beer. And all whilst listening to an ‘ever-evolving’ soundtrack of music (some live) curated by music man, Tic Zogson. Tick, Tick….Tic.
Details: 136 Shaftesbury Avenue, Covent Garden, W1D 5EZ | Wed-Sat, 6pm-2am | No bookings
Freud Bar’s decor – or lack thereof – is of a style that can only be described as… non-existent. But it’s precisely this lack of pretension that makes it one of the best bars in Covent Garden. Freud’s has bare concrete walls covered in rotating artworks, and pint glasses filled with cheap & delicious cocktails – and you’ll need to talk very loudly to overcome the charged, giddy atmosphere. Precisely nothing about it has even a veneer of artifice, and precisely everything about it is fantastic.
Details: 198 Shaftesbury Avenue, WC2H 8JL | Open daily from 3pm-late | Book here
Baranis is basement cocktail bar in Covent Garden with a simple menu of traditional Provençal snacks and a sizeable array of the region’s prime anise-flavoured apéritif, pastis. They also have a gravelled indoor pétanque court, where the goal is to throw hollow metal balls as close as possible to a small wooden ball. Simple. Until you’ve tried the pastis, that is.
Details: 115 Chancery Lane, WC2A 1PP | Open Tues-Fri from 4pm, Sat from 5pm | Book here
Gordon’s Wine Bar
Gordon’s Wine Bar – a crepuscular, subterranean, semi-circular cave carved from bedrock, and lit by candle light (and now a couple of festive strings of fairylights) – is the sort of place that you can escape underground and tuck yourself away in a corner to sample an award-winning wine list of unsuspectingly modern drops from both the classic regions of France to South America and beyond… and some of Gordon’s 17 cheeses, evening tapas or Sunday roasts.
Details: 47 Villiers Street, WC2N 6NE | Open Mon-Sat 11am-11pm, Sun 12-10pm | Book here
La Goccia Bar
Wander through the serene courtyard at Petersham Nurseries Covent Garden, and you’ll come to the quietly secluded cocktail bar they keep there – La Goccia Bar. Inside, it’s awash with natural flourishes, from the florally inspired paintings on the walls, to the actual flowers dotted about in various vases. Oh, and the bar? It’s made from real leaves (collected in Italy) cast into bronze. And just to complete the picture, and the cocktails are all botanically inspired, too.
Details: Petersham Nurseries Covent Garden, Floral Court, WC2E 8JD | Open Tues-Sun from 11.30am | No Bookings
Moto is a relaxed, minimalist sake bar in Covent Garden with an impressive roster of rice wine organised by flavour profile on the menu. If you’re not a seasoned sake drinker, you can kick off with a cocktail – and if you find something you like, you can take it home from the bottle-shop. Plus, there’s some mouthwatering Japanese bar bites on offer, including sake-battered chicken karaage.
Details: 7 Maiden Lane, Covent Garden, WC2E 7NA | Open Tues-Sun, 12pm-late | Book here
The American Bar At The Savoy
If you’re after a classic cocktail, The American Bar at The Savoy is probably the place that invented it. We’re not exaggerating. Legendary bartender Harry Craddock’s classic cocktails (most of which feature in “The Savoy Cocktail Book” that he wrote during his spell as head barman throughout the 1930s) are still served there, with the nightly musical backdrop provided by a tuxedo’ed crooner tinkling on the ivories.
Details: The Savoy Hotel, Strand, WC2R 0EZ | Open 11.30am (12pm Sundays) – midnight | Walk ins only
Circus is technically a restaurant, but it’s not the food that you come here for (however good it is). You come here for the fire-eaters, acrobats, trapeze artists, and ballet dancers who will gracefully weave their way between, over, and on top of the tables. And it’s also one of the best bars in Covent Garden because you can watch them just as easily sipping on a Willy Wonka’s Secret (with chocolate, whisky and blowtorched marshmallow).
Details: 27 – 29 Endell Street, Covent Garden, WC2H 9BA | Open Tues-Fri from 6pm, Sat from 4pm | Book here
Scarfes Bar – a drawing room-meets-gentlemen’s club style cocktail lounge – displays a collection of Gerald Scarfe’s satirical paintings, alongside over 1,000 antique books. A short-but-sweet menu of just 16 cocktails includes a number from Scarfe himself, and is backed up by a selection of over 200 single malt whiskies, over 60 gins, and a live jazz band (because it’s also one of the best bars in London with live music), most evenings from 8pm, or 9pm Thurs-Sat.
Details: Rosewood London, 252 High Holborn, WC1V 7EN | Open daily from 4pm | Book here
La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels
Strangely for a bar named after “supernatural” wines…
…they don’t serve spirits.
What La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels do serve, however, is a collection of carefully selected Old World wines – best enjoyed outside on the their courtyard tables in Neal’s Yard – by the glass and bottle, including a succinct selection of port and madeira wines, all of which you can enjoy alongside cheese, charcuterie and small plates like scallop with Jerusalem artichoke. You can even order a glass of ‘mystery wine’, which – if you can somehow identify it – will win you a bottle.
Details: 8-10 Neal’s Yard, Covent Garden, WC2H 9DP | Open daily midday-midnight | Book here
Looking for the best restaurants in Covent Garden?
The high variety factor applies to the restaurants too in Covent Garden – from kebabs at a hidden chef’s table to a Dishoom and a French restaurant that is recognised as one of the best restaurants in Paris (and naturally choose to have its second branch here in London). You can see which ones we reckon are elite on this list of best restaurants in Covent Garden. Your next move? To go and see them for yourself in person…
Still thirsty? Peruse all our recommendations of great bars in London
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