It’s your birthday.
Which means you are, by definition, older and more mature.
And being older and more mature, you’ll likely be in the mood to celebrate with a bewilderingly good cocktail in an atmospheric, sophisticated space.
So we’ve lined up a solid collection of the very best places for birthday drinks in London in which to do that…
The Vault at Milroys | Soho
Hidden below a whiskey shop (and not just any whiskey shop, but London’s first ever speciality whisky shop), the Vault is a Chesterfield-filled escape from the city above. Just low-lighting, smooth music, and great cocktails.
Details: 3 Greek St, London W1D 4N | Numbers? Up to 8 (if you’re going to book) | Bookable area? Yes, you can book the Barrel Room for up to 8 guests. For more information, visit their website here.
Eve | Covent Garden
It’s a sumptuous subterranean cocktail bar tucked away underneath Covent Garden’s The Frog, serving never-before-seen theatrical cocktails, alongside bar snacks like cheese and truffle doughnuts or smoked cod caviar.
Details: 34 Southampton St, London WC2E 7HF | Numbers? Up to 10 people online (telephone reservations accepting larger groups) | Bookable area? No | For more details, visit their website here.
Paradise by Way of Kensal Green | Kensal Green
Frequented by a fashion-forward crowd including Kate Moss, Sophie Ellis-Bexter and Matthew Williamson, you’d expect the interior of Paradise by Way of Kensal Green to hold a few surprises. And, as always, you’d be right. The broad impression you’ll get walking in is “rock’n’roll stately home” featuring wood panelling, oil paintings and lines of leather-bound books alongside religious icons, cherub motifs and taxidermy. There’s a music room upstairs, regular big-name DJs, and a conservatory roof terrace built for cocktailing.
Details: 19 Kilburn Ln, London W10 4AE | Numbers? Up to 150 | Bookable area? Yes, their private rooms can fit 14 to 50 guests for private dining or up to 150 for drinks & canapés | For more information, visit their website here.
Dickie’s Bar | Mayfair
After NY’s The Dead Rabbit won ‘World’s Best Bar for the second time in a row, Richard Corrigan decided it might be a good idea to get their head bartender to become his head bartender. So he did. And the results is Dickie’s Bar; a suave, polished, elegant Mayfair drinker attached to his restaurant.
Details: 28 Upper Grosvenor St, London W1K 7EH | Numbers? Up to10 ish (if you’re going to book) | Bookable area? No | For more details, check out their website here.
Lyaness | South Bank
Replacing cocktail wizard Ryan Chetiyawardana’s bar Dandelyan – which he closed months after winning the World’s Best Bar award – is Lyaness, his next, equally experimental venture (that’s just appeared on that list once again). As well as being, of course, an excellent shortlister for birthday drinks in London, considering the cocktails are incredible, and there’s a stunning view of the Thames.
Details: 20 Upper Ground, London SE1 9PD | Numbers? Up to300 for the whole venue | Bookable area? Yes, they’re labeled as ‘semi-private areas’ | For more information, visit their website here.
The Distillery | Portobello
Containing four stories of gin, The Distillery has something for basically every party. There’s a cocktail bar, a malt room, a gin museum, and even a hotel.
Details: 186 Portobello Rd, London W11 1LA | Numbers? Up to 20 | Bookable area? Yes, if you book a private gin-making session at the Ginstitute. Otherwise, you’re booking spaces in one of the bars | For more details on the packages they offer, visit their website here.
Humble Grape | Battersea, Fleet Street, Islington
All three of the Humble Grape wine bars are good for laid-back birthday drinks in London; they’re all beautiful in their own ways, they’re all filled with more wine than you can shake a cork at, and they’re all staffed by some of the most knowledgable barkeeps int he business.
Details: Various addresses | Numbers? Up to 200 | Bookable area? Yes. Battersea: seated for 6 – 16 guests, stood: 10 – 20 guests. Fleet Street: wine tastings for 6 – 200 guests. Islington: 20 seated | For their full addresses and minimum spend rates, visit their website here.
Swift | Soho
The result of a partnership between two of the biggest powerhouses in the London Bar scene (the minds behind Nightjar and Milk & Honey).
Details: 2 Old Compton St, London W1D 4TQ | Numbers? Up to 13 (if you’re going to book) | Bookable area? No, you can only book a table area downstairs for up to 13 people | For more details, check out their website here.
BYOC | Camden
Yes, you’ll have to bring your own booze to this moody speakeasy. And yes, that’s a very good thing. You and your party will all be treated to individually tailored cocktails made with whatever bottles you all bring along.
Details: 11-13 Camden High St, London NW1 7JE | Numbers? Up to 22 | Bookable area? No | For more information, have a browse of their website here.
Artesian | Marylebone
Winner of “world’s best bar” accolade several times over, Artesian is a high-flying, we-take-our-cocktails-oh-so-seriously glamour shot of a bar. Expect to pay the big bucks, and get the best drinks.
Details: 1C Portland Pl, London W1B 1JA | Numbers? Up to 20 | Bookable area? No | For more information, visit their website here.
The Gibson | Shoreditch
The Gibson seems to have travelled from the American 1930s to modern-day London, and landed firmly on its feet. They serve some of the most creative cocktails in the city, and frequently have a live band playing in the corner. Dancing probably isn’t on the cards, but when you’re drinking out of a herb-filled glass pipe that’s literally smoking, that kind of detail doesn’t matter.
Details: 44 Old St, London EC1V 9AQ | Numbers? Up to 35 | Bookable area? Yes, they have two semi-private areas for either 1-5, or 6-18 people. These have no minimum spend. If you want to go beyond that (up to 35 people max) then there are varied minimum spend amounts | For more details on this, have a look at their website here.
Purl | Marylebone
The original venture from the boys behind the Whistling Shop and Dach & Sons, Purl’s subterranean bar combines exposed brickwork with leather sofas; chandeliers with cosy booths; urban edge with classic cool. But as nice as all of that is, the focus here is 100% on the drinks. The cocktail menu forebodingly warns: “This is not an elegant or simple cocktail list…if you don’t like fire, liquid nitrogen or loud noises, you won’t like this.” And if you’re after something a little bit special on your birthday, this place provides just that.
Details: 50-54 Blandford St, London W1U 7HX | Numbers? Up to 35 | Bookable area? Yes, they have some neat little alcoves. Up to 12 people requires no minimum spend. Above that it varies a lot, so best get in touch | For more information, visit their website here.
12th Knot | South Bank
Another one in Sea Containers London’s portfolio of stunning Tom Dixon-esque bars with a view out over the Thames and some really nice cocktails besides. 12th Knot’s recently had a full refurb – but the best bit? There’s a terrace to go out onto overlooking the river.
Details: 20 Upper Ground, London SE1 9PD | Numbers? Up to 300 for the whole venue | Bookable area? You can book a table for up to 20 people, or the whole venue for up to 300 (however, that costs anywhere between 25k – 50k) | For more details, have a look at their website here.
The Drop | King’s Cross
Tucked away under a railway arch in King’s Cross’ Coal Drops Yard is The Drop, a low-lit, exposed brick restaurant and wine bar courtesy of the Hart Brothers (the same folks behind places like Michelin-starred Barrafina, and Casa Pastor). Here however the focus is very much the wine. Supported by a menu of mostly British-leaning dishes, they offer a totally unique and exciting wine list made up of mostly smaller, independent producers often doing new, innovative things across the globe.
Details: Unit 22-24 Bagley Walk Arches Coal Drops Yard, London N1C 4DH | Numbers? Up to 24 | Bookable area? You can book a table for any size, however their set feasting menus are for groups of 8-24 | For more details, check out their website here.
Discount Suit Company | Spitalfields
DSC is an underground booze den hidden in the basement of an old suit tailor’s stock room, which was literally a discount suit company. It’s now a dimly-lit neighbourhood cocktail bar entirely composed of exposed brickwork, scaffolding planks, Victorian floorboards and Motown records. If you want somewhere that’s not only cool, but makes you look cool too? Look no further.
Details: 29A Wentworth St, London E1 7TB | Numbers? 30ish | Bookable area? Yes, you can book a table or bar area free of charge | For more details, take a look at their website here.
Mr Foggs | Mayfair
The fictional home of the famed, not-exactly existent Philleas Fogg, this cocktail spot pushes eccentric Victorian to its limit – it overflows with artefacts and trinkets, from stuffed Indian tiger heads, to whole crocodiles and umbrella stands made from elephants’ feet, birdcages, bicycles and one large penny-farthing swinging from the ceiling.
Details: 1 New Row, London WC2N 4EA | Numbers? Up to 12 (if you’re going to book) | Bookable area? Semi-private – parties of up to 8 guests can make their reservation for a table in the Drawing Room | For more information, visit their website here.
Sketch | Mayfair
With any mention of Sketch comes the inevitable reference to its collection of pod shaped toilets which look, almost exactly, like the spaceship from Mork and Mindy (basically a big egg with a door). But aside from that, there are also three bars and two restaurants, all of which will ever so slightly blow the mind of anyone unfamiliar with the joint.
Details: 9 Conduit St, London W1S 2XG | Numbers? Depends on the night; probably 20ish at a stretch | Bookable area? No, and that’s the rub – you can’t book any of their bars, they’re strictly walk-in only. So you’d need to get your party there early, and hope | For any more information, check out their website here.
The Blind Pig | Soho
Parked below an unassuming sign that reads “Optician”, this speakeasy-style cocktail joint has the same slick touches that we’ve all come to expect from an Atherton-run joint, like a beautiful antique mirrored ceiling, a copper-topped bar, and some mismatched-yet-perfectly-coordinated wooden furniture. The drinks are great, the snacks are even better, and the vibe is ridiculously cool.
Details: Social Eating House, 58 Poland St, London W1F 7NR | Numbers? Up to 12 (if you’re going to book) | Bookable area? You can book tables, in semi-private spaces | For more information, take a look at their website here.
Last updated: 7th January 2022
Want somewhere a little more fun? Check out our guide to Fun Places For Birthday Drinks…
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