The Best London Bars With Live Music | Tipples and Trumpet Solos
Bars without live music.
They’re a little deadbeat.
So let’s have a drum roll… a bit of saxophone… and a little bass… for we are about to announce the best bars in the capital with regular live music nights. Not necessarily dedicated gig venues (for that, we’ve made a special guide to the best live music venues in London), but somewhere atmospheric where you can enjoy a smooth tipple with a mood music garnish.
These are they…
JUMP TO: East London | Central London | South London | West London | North London
EAST LONDON BARS WITH LIVE MUSIC
Nightjar | Old Street
Nightjar is hidden away behind a curtain at the bottom of a staircase behind a very dark, unmarked door facing Old Street roundabout. It’s the kind of spot you’d never notice unless you were specifically looking for a brick-walled jazz den serving some of the city’s most unusual cocktails. Which, as of now, you are.
When to catch it: Every night from 9pm, plus midnight sets on Fri/Sat | Cover charge? Free-£10 depending on the day | Book a table & see who’s playing here
Servant Jazz Quarters | Dalston
Servant Jazz Quarters is a bit like a classier version of the raucous servants quarters below deck in Titanic. An intimate, bi-level space with candlelit cabaret tables and an art deco-styled bar, it’s the perfect London bar with live music to head to whenever you fancy port cocktails accompanied by a hand-pumped harmonium. Which is always.
When to catch it: Most nights, check programme here | Cover charge? Individually ticketed, free on Fridays
The Sun Tavern | Bethnal Green
The Sun Tavern looks like a pub. Hell, it’s literally called a tavern. But make no mistake, this place is a cocktail bar, and one of the best bars in East London too. Located inside a handsome old saloon on Bethnal Green Road, it features an expertly crafted list of high quality cocktails, more than forty Leprechaun Green Irish whiskies, and a vast selection of locally brewed craft beers and poitín, a once-illegal Irish spirit. And yes, a little live music on Sundays and Mondays.
When to catch it: Sat-Tues nights | Cover charge? No | Book a table & see who’s playing here
The Gibson | Shoreditch
Jazz lounge speakeasy The Gibson seeeems to have travelled from Belle Epoque Paris – via 1930s America – to modern-day London. Specifically Shoreditch. And it’s made a hell of a home for itself there. Inside, the place looks gorgeous, with copper & steel mixing utensils sit upon the wood-panelled bar, ready and waiting for one of the skilled barkeeps to create one of nearly 50 cocktails available from the menu…
When to catch it: Friday & Saturday, 9pm-11pm | Cover charge? No
The Nickel Bar | City
If we had a nickel for every time we’ve recommended the The Nickel we probably wouldn’t be all that rich (they aren’t worth much these days). But it’s a 1930’s-styled American bar in a former bank, The Ned, with a stage that literally takes centre stage (it’s in the middle of the venue), and you can always expect the daily lineup of live music – from Friday’s classic jazz trios to fresh new acts on Monday – to be on the money…
When to catch it: Every night | Cover charge? None | Call 020 3828 2000 for bookings
Mu | Dalston
Mu is from the folk at Brilliant Corners, who know their music thanks to the vast back-catalogue of vinyl that soundtracks their cocktail bar & Japanese eatery. So they’re not the worst people in the world to transfer all that knowledge to a second branch a few doors down, specialising in cocktails, Japanese food… and live music.
When to catch it: Every night at 7.30pm & 9pm | Cover charge? Optional £8 charge
Dalston Jazz Bar | Dalston
Just in case being a London bar with live music and a live jazz band wasn’t enough of ‘a thing’, Dalston Jazz Bar has also plumped for a food menu that occasionally features the likes of white shark fillet, kangaroo and crocodile. Also, the chef’s a DJ. And you only have to pay what you want for the whole meal.
When to catch it: Fri-Sat evenings | Cover charge? PWYW, min. donation £20pp
Downstairs at Morito | Hackney
Five years after opening on Hackney Road (and now comfortably one of the best Spanish restaurants in London), the brilliant tapas spot Morito has opened the door to its cellar space. Aptly named Downstairs at Morito, it’s a more casual den with a late-night bar vibe, serving cocktails and a hand-picked banquet of those great dishes you can get upstairs. And on Tuesdays, they bus in some local talent to serenade you with live music…
Where to catch it: Tuesday evenings, doors close 7.15pm | Morito, 195 Hackney Road, London E2 8JL | Cover charge? £35pp for music and food | Book a table, and find out more here
NT’s Loft | London Fields
NT’s Loft – from the Night Tales folks – has a Funktion-One sound system. If that doesn’t immediately get your heart racing then know that on weekend nights they also invite an eclectic programme of selectors to come and play with it, where you’ll hear everything from disco to R&B, with the likes of Horse Meat Disco and Laurence Guy having DJ’d here in the past. If you need a breather from the dancefloor there’s a heated terrace with a retractable roof, and on Wednesdays (when Patterns host a weekly evening of improvised beats), the venue turns into one of the best jazz bars in London.
When to catch it: Wednesdays for the jazz, Friday and Saturday night for the DJs | Cover charge? Depends on the event, see here for details
Grow | Hackney Wick
Grow started out as a hub of artists’ studios nestled inside an old sausage factory. And true to its name, it’s now grown into a canal-side bar and pop up kitchen, too. Every Thursday night, the house jazz band pitches up by the waterside and plays a couple of sets – and any musicians in the audience are heartily encouraged to get up and join in (especially tempting after a cocktail or two).
When to catch it: Thursday evenings from 7.30-11.30pm, and occasionally other days | Cover charge? £5/6 | Book a table here
The Piano Works | Farringdon
…as you’ll immediately notice upon entering, because at The Piano Works, they’re using it to crank out arrangements of classic pop ‘choons’ for the bopping crowd’s pleasure. Get in the thick of it and shout out requests, or sit back with a cocktail and bar bites and let the mellifluous strains of Teenage Dirtbag wash over you.
When to catch it: Tues-Thurs till 1am, Fri-Sat till 2am | Cover charge? £15 Fri & Sat | Book a table here
Coupette | Bethnal Green
Coupette is an impossibly romantic Parisian style bar, with exposed brick walls, vintage lighting and live piano, spanning pop covers to original music. Plus, the drinks are among the best in the city, making Coupette one of our favourite London cocktail bars and winning it a smart 23rd place in the World’s 50 Best Bars.
When to catch it: Mondays & Wednesdays, 8-11pm | Cover charge? No | Book a table here
CENTRAL LONDON BARS WITH LIVE MUSIC
The Alligator Bar | Covent Garden
If you find yourself in Covent Garden midweek, in need of some live jazz, 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. There’s a band playing there every Tuesday & Wednesday nights, and they’re always excellent.
When to catch it: Tuesday & Wednesday nights (9pm-12am). See what’s on, and find out more right here.
Louche | Soho
You don’t call your bar Louche without providing a little raucous live entertainment. This three storey townhouse is a love letter to old Soho, with two stages occupied regularly by live bands, singers, jazz sets, burlesque artists, cabaret acts and more. And the cocktails are just as brilliant, so understandably it’s one of the best bars in Soho even if you don’t factor in the music…
When to catch it: Every evening at 8pm/9.30pm on Fri & Sat, plus live jazz at 8.30pm on Wednesdays. See what’s on, and book a table, here
The Den | Soho
If you were around during the ’60s you might have seen the Rolling Stones, David Bowie or Pink Floyd playing at The Den (or The Marquee Club, as it was known back then). It’s a music venue possessing the sort of illustrious history one could fill a whole page with listing all the big players who have performed here. While those days may be in the past now, you’ll still get to enjoy music-themed cocktails under dim lights and with a rotating lineup of piano players from Thursday-Sunday, every week.
When to catch it: Every Thursday – Sunday evening | Cover charge? No cover | No bookings as well, just turn up
Velvet Bar | Embankment
Velvet is the Corinthia Hotel’s new, dark and absolutely drop-dead gorgeous cocktail bar. It might be the closest thing you’ll get to living the 1920’s high life (unless you have a time machine lying around your home) and two of its biggest allures are that the drinks have been created by none other than Salvatore Calabrese (one of the worlds great bartenders who goes by the nickname ‘The Maestro’) and that you can enjoy his drinks (like the Breakfast Martini) to the tune of nightly live jazz…
When to catch it: Every night | Cover charge? None
Nightjar Carnaby | Soho
Tucked quietly by the entrance to Kingly Court on Carnaby Street, Nightjar Carnaby is the younger sibling to the Shoreditch original. Which means alongside the same award-winning cocktails, theatrical presentation and low-lit setting, it also has the same passion for live music, with jazz, blues, swing and funk musicians taking to the stage almost nightly.
When to catch it: Monday – Saturday from 9pm | Cover charge? No cover charge Mon & Tues, then £6-10 later in the week | See what’s on, and book, here
Below Stone Nest | Covent Garden
Hidden away underneath Stone Nest (the Grade II-listed chapel turned live music venue in Covent Garden) is a cocktail bar called, well, Below Stone Nest…It comes to us from Frank and Jackson Boxer, the brothers behind one of the best restaurants in Notting Hill, Orasay, and Peckham rooftop/carpark bar Frank’s Cafe. In other words, they what they’re doing, this time taking on a small, subterranean dive bar where, as well as drinking a few cocktails or a glass of natural wine, you can listen to live music, curated by none other than Tic Zogson. He represents bands like The XX and FKA Twigs and programmes all sorts of live performances, as well as DJs and looking after the bar’s on-going playlist.
When to catch it: Usually Wednesdays, check Insta for updates | Cover charge? Usually free entry
City Arts | The City
If you never got the chance to experience a trendy party in Palm Springs from the ‘70s or have always visualised yourself in a moody LA lounge with Ryan Gosling playing the piano in the background (à la La La Land), now’s your chance to correct that. City Arts, a seductive late-night drinking den in Bank, provides a platform for both of these fantasies: It’s one of London’s best cocktail bars, with live music – from DJs dropping disco on the decks to someone taking over the grand piano with Nina Simone renditions – and a licence to stay open until 3am…
When to catch it: Check their Insta for updates | Cover charge? No cover | Book here
Scarfes Bar | Holborn
Scarfes Bar is named after Gerald Scarfe, best known for his witty and satirical cartoons, and least known for the extinct genus of monofenestratan pterosaur, Cuspicephalus scarfi, also named in his honour. Sadly it’s only the former that decorate the walls of the suave, gentleman’s club-like bar dedicated to him in Holborn’s Rosewood Hotel – a disappointment you’ll soon get over thanks to the live, 50s-era jazz.
When to catch it: Most evenings | Cover charge? No | See who’s playing, and book a table, here
Ronnie Scott’s | Soho
Ronnie Scott’s is the godfather of jazz bars in London. It’s a classic for a reason… and that reason is the no talking rule, saving first dates from awkward small talk since 1959.
When to catch it: Nightly, but often sells out – book ahead here | Cover charge? Varies, check programme for details
The Piano Works West End | Leicester Square
Remember the last time you stumbled across an almost-hidden bar underneath Leicester Square with classic cocktails, three course dinners with bottomless prosecco and a six-piece band exclusively playing pop song requests from the crowd? The Piano Works West End is exactly like that, except with musically-synchronised light up tables.
When to catch it: Wed-Fri 7pm-till 1am, Sat 11.30am-3am | Cover charge? £15 Fri & Sat | Book a table here
The Vault at Milroy’s | Soho
Hearing the jazzy strains of live music emanating from behind a bookcase would, in most situations, be a cause for concern. In fact, the only time it isn’t, is when you find yourself browsing the shelves of Soho whisky emporium Milroy’s, and are reminded of the fact that their subterranean, uber-romantic bar (hidden behind some shelving at the back of the shop), The Vault at Milroy’s has turned over Monday evenings to live music nights, where you can kick back with a whisky cocktail and feel very happy that your marbles are intact.
When to catch it: Mondays from 8pm | Cover charge? No | Book a table here
Cahoots | Carnaby
Probably the best secret 1940s-era underground-themed cocktail bar in London, Cahoots busses in the finest close harmony crooners, old-fashioned singalong pianists and electro-swing DJs for Friday night dancing and boozy afternoon tea parties.
When to catch it: Friday & Saturday evenings at the Signal Station (just opposite), Sunday evenings at Cahoots | Cover charge? No | Book a table here
SOUTH LONDON BARS WITH LIVE MUSIC
CLF Art Lounge And Roof Garden | Peckham
It’s easier to list the nights CLF Art Lounge and Rooftop Garden doesn’t have live music than when it does. There’s Nu Jazz Generations every Wednesday, Live in The Lounge every Friday, Latin Jazz Brunch every Saturday and Rooftop Soul Sessions every Sunday, all of which take place either in the plush, speak-easy style bar or upstairs on the plant-lined rooftop (boasting both heaters and a canopy in case of rain).
When to catch it: Wednesday-Sunday mostly | Cover charge? Free | See what’s on and book here
WC | Clapham
Not all underground wine and charcuterie bars housed in a former Victorian public convenience beneath Clapham Common also host regular performances of folk music and 60s pop. But WC does.
When to catch it: Sundays 7-9pm | Cover charge? No
Amazing Grace | London Bridge
Stone walls, lofty ceilings and a good rapport with angels. That’s Amazing Grace. And there are quite a few reasons 17th Century churches make excellent live music venues, especially when that live music comes alongside a whole load of booze and regularly-rotating food from some of London’s hottest street food brands. Expect everything from 70s folk magic to gospel, as well as DJs every Friday night.
When to catch it: See what’s on and book here
Cable Café Bar | Oval
By day, Cable Café Bar roasts its own coffee, bakes its own cakes, and generally spoils everyone with its ineffable neighbourhood charm. By night, it cranks out the cocktails, accompanied by free live jazz of a Wednesday evening.
When to catch it: Wednesday nights | Cover charge? No
Brunswick House | Vauxhall
If you can resist the leafy terrace out front, the quirky antique-filled dining room, and the wafts of Modern British cooking emanating from the kitchen, you’ll be rewarded down in the cellars of Brunswick House, where, over the next few months, different wine, beer and cider producers will be hosting pop ups with live jazz from Mark Kavuma and The Banger Factory every Tuesday.
When to catch it: On hold for now – check Insta for updates
WEST LONDON BARS WITH LIVE MUSIC
Piano Bar | Kensington, Smithfield
The Piano: a 160 year-old Collard & Collard Grand, left in the capable hands of a rotating line-up of musicians playing everything from Nina Simone to Rihanna.
The Bar: a candlelit den with killer cocktails, bar snacks and plush leather banquettes – not that you’ll be needing them when you’re swaying round the piano singing along to ‘Feeling Good’.
When to catch it: Most evenings | Cover charge? No, but most events are ticketed – see what’s on, and book, here
The Troubadour | Earl’s Court
The Troubadour has been a stalwart of London’s live music scene since the fifties – but it’s also a singularly lovely place to enjoy a quiet pint with some live jazz and acoustic bubbling away in the background.
When to catch it: Most nights, check programme and book tickets HERE | Cover charge? Individually ticketed
NORTH LONDON BARS WITH LIVE MUSIC
69 Colebrook Row | Islington
Officially, 69 Colebrooke Row is just this bar’s address, not its name – which is The Bar With No Name. But the cocktail genius behind it does have a name: Tony Conigliaro, and the bar’s pioneering drinks menu still impresses to this day…
When to catch it: House pianist – Weds & Sun, 7pm-10pm | Live bands: Thursdays from 8.30pm | Cover charge? No | Book a table & see who’s playing here
The Blues Kitchen Camden | Camden, Shoreditch, Brixton
By day, it’s a whisky-slicked brunch, lunch and dinner spot, serving smokey Texan-style BBQ, burgers and spiced Southern dishes. By night, it becomes a packed-out bar with excellent cocktails, one of London’s biggest bourbon collections and live bands taking to the stage to play blues, soul and honky tonk before the vintage DJ set takes over until the wee hours.
When to catch it: Nightly from 9.45pm | Cover charge? No, but you’ll need to pay entry later in the week | Book & see who’s playing here
Want more than bar bites with those beats? Check out our guide to the best London restaurants with live music
The Nudge is an independent, searchable and highly-curated guide to the most interesting places to go and things to do in London, giving members unrestricted access to our full compendium of continually-updated restaurants, bars, events, exhibitions, date ideas, itineraries, member perks, weekend guides, monthly agendas and more – all delivered via our website, email newsletters & members’ app.
Join us to see what’s hot in London this week; to explore all of the recommendations & ideas stored within The Nudge’s website and members’ app; and to start making the most of life in London today. Start Free One Week Trial