Hattie Lloyd 21/06/24

The Best Bars In St James’s

Shaken not stirred.

That’s how you may have to be woken after a night exploring the finest bars in St James’s. But as the birthplace of Bond’s classic catchphrase, there’s no other way to do it but to go all in.

So we’ve duly curated a guide to the best places for a stiff drink in the area, from refined hotel bars to sleek cocktail dens and old-school wine bars…




Great dinners at Maison Francois (one of London’s best French restaurants) finish with a crème caramel and a digestif. Truly great dinners at Maison Francois, however, continue downstairs at Frank’s – the slick, low-lit wine bar below, where guests lounge on dark leather banquettes or lean over a dramatic central bar, sipping wine from a 200-something list of unconventional bottles. There’s a tight list of modish cocktails and a decent amount of food too (including the pâté en croûte, a star from upstairs), so Frank’s can be a truly great dinner in its own right… 

Details: 34 Duke Street, SW1Y 6DF | Book here

Dukes Bar

Duke's Bar st james's

One of the most famous bars in St James’s, Dukes is the birthplace of Bond’s ‘shaken not stirred’ slogan. Fittingly, they serve up seven different takes on the martini, poured to the brim and prepared to your exacting specifications from a table-side trolley. They are, however, so phenomenally potent that you’ll only be allowed to order two. Which should still give you time to luxuriate in the understated indulgence of the bar, before retiring to the cognac and cigar terrace. Because of course they have one of those.

Details: 35 St James’s Place, SW1A 1NY | Walk-in only

The Rivoli Bar

rivoli bar st james's

This place is less Art Deco, and more Art Dec-OTT.  The original interiors of The Ritz hotel’s bar sees glossy camphor wood panelling interspersed with Lalique glass panels, beaten copper reliefs and Tamara de Lempicka prints, with gold-leaf scalloped alcoves in the walls and ceiling. The cocktails are equally magnificent, delivered by white jacketed barkeeps in elaborate vessels. After all, they don’t call it putting on The Ritz for nothing.

Details: The Ritz, 150 Piccadilly, W1J 9BR | Book here

Maison Assouline

Sure, a bookshop might not be first on your list for a wild night of drinking in St James’s. But then, most bookshops don’t tuck a cocktail bar in among their shelves of weighty, luxury tomes, which serves travel-inspired cocktails like the Burnt Mandarin Negroni alongside acorn-fed Ibérico ham and foie gras on toast. Generally.

Details: 196A Piccadilly, St. James’s, London W1J 9EY | Book here


kwant bar st james's

Kwānt has a control panel which can set 13 different lighting ‘moods’. Which should tell you something about the degree of precision Erik Lorincz likes to work with. After a long and successful stint as head bartender at The Savoy’s American Bar (where most classic cocktails were literally invented), Lorincz set out to do some invention of his own. The result was Kwānt, here in its second location after its previous site below Momo shuttered in the pandemic. Finally, Lorincz has room to flourish: the cocktails here are absolutely outstanding. It’s an unmissable pitstop on any serious sipper’s pilgrimage.

Details: 52 Stratton St, London W1J 8LN No bookings

Kioku Bar

kioku bar st james's

The OWO is a colossally lavish hotel, set in the old war offices on Whitehall after a multi-multi-million pound refurb. So no, their hotel bar isn’t just a couple of armchairs in the lobby. In fact, they have three bars, only one of which is open to the public – and luckily, it happens to be one of the more interesting. Kioku by Endo is a partner to the Kioku restaurant up on the roof, and, being overseen by third-generation sushi master Endo Kazutoshi, it comes with a bespoke selection of over 100 types of sake. You can sip them neat, or in a signature cocktail – and if you really want to dive in, they run regular takeovers with brewers and aficionados (including London’s very own Kanpai).

Details: Ground Floor, 2 Whitehall Place, The OWO, London, SW1A 2BD | Book here


St James’s might conjure the image of port-quaffing gentlemen’s clubs, but there’s a lone wolf hiding out in this flock. The bar at The Institute of Contemporary Arts is only open till 10pm but wins points for its artsy crowd and pared-back, moody interiors. Come here for smoky margaritas and ‘hard tea’, and plan your next work of performance art: “Stumbling onto the Night Bus (2024)“.

Details: The ICA, The Mall, London SW1Y 5AH | No bookings – find out more

The American Bar at The Stafford

American bar at the Stafford st james's

This is a real Old Boys’ club.

And we’re not just talking about Johnnie Walker, Jack Daniels and Jim Beam.

An eccentric, old-school, ‘clubhouse’-style bar hidden within a hotel hidden within a cul-de-sac, The American Bar’s walls are plastered with all manner of eclectic paraphernalia, from model planes to er, a stuffed kangaroo – the perfect place to enjoy a cocktail or two and pretend you’re Old Money.

Details: The Stafford Hotel, 16-18 St James’s Place, SW1A 1NJ | Book here

Davy’s at St James’s

Down an unassuming alley you’ll find this cavernous cellar bar perched inside a set of old Champagne vaults, filled with snug Chesterfield armchairs, precariously lit candles and old wine-related paraphernalia. As part of the Davy’s wine merchants family, the wine list here is both extensive and reasonably priced – but it’s also worth ordering the house beer, Old Wallop, which is still served in antique pewter tankards.

Details: Crown Passage, Pall Mall, SW1Y 6QY | Book here


While you’re in the area… peruse our guide to these excellent restaurants in Mayfair