Some of the most unusual London bars are unique and quirky pop ups, which – assuming that they’re good (and they often are) – are regularly featured in The Nudge’s emails, and also found in our dedicated London pop ups section.
But what we’ve attempted here is to compile a list of permanently cool bars in London (that is, bars that are both permanent and cool, stylish and/or unusual).
Enough said, these are they:
Evans & Peel Detective Agency
A secret West London speakeasy, where, after being led down to a softly-lit agency office, The Detective will usher you through a bookcase and into to a candlelit drinking den serving booze in brown paper bags. READ MORE
Details: Earls Court Road, Earls Court, SW5 9BA
ABQ + Sinner
A bar found in a Hackney railway arch, defined primarily by the fact that you can play arcade games for shots, and only secondarily by the full-scale, Breaking Bad-style RV parked inside, in which they conduct molecular cocktail classes. READ MORE
Details: 18 Bohemia Place, E8 1DU
Late Night Louie
A secretive listening den hidden beneath a Walworth Road café, where you’ll find regular live music nights, vinyl DJ sets, and a laid-back menu of nonchalantly killer cocktails. READ MORE
Details: 347 Walworth Road, SE17 2AL
An illicit, subterranean drinking den that brings back the golden days of Prohibition… by not stocking any booze. Instead, you’ll bring a bottle of your desired poison, and, over the next two hours, your personal barkeep will supplement your spirit with bitters, infusions and syrups to create unlimited, entirely bespoke cocktails… READ MORE
Details: 11-13 Camden High Street, NW1 0JH
City of London Distillery (COLD)
COLD: it’s extremely cool. Floor to ceiling windows reveal the in-house distillery, in which two copper stills (Jennifer and Clarissa) patiently age gin. The same gin that you can then order from the bar, or try straight from the vats if you book a distillery tour. READ MORE
Details: 22-24 Bride Lane, EC4Y 8DT
Untitled. Ironically, it’s really made a name for itself, thanks to the silver-leaf walls, pop up supperclubs, suggestive art, Japanese-style back terrace and Tony Conigliaro cocktails, featuring ingredients like chalk, benzoin and mushroom vodka… READ MORE
Details: 538 Kingsland Road, E8 4AH
Jack Solomons Club
Cool bars in London tend to have one of three things: 1) Great atmosphere; 2) Great drinks; or 3) A secret entrance which entails locating an after-hours deli in Soho, descending below ground past a room full of meat, and emerging into a beautifully low-lit space that was once the site of a famous 60s boxing gym. Jack Solomons is one of very few bars in London – in fact, quite possibly the only one – to combine all three. READ MORE
Details: 41 Windmill Street, W1D 7NB
A subterranean sleeve of a space fitted with seductive, conspiratorial nooks; jewel-toned velvet seating; mirrors; brass; and a cocktail menu that’s written entirely in the form of short stories. Book ahead, unless you’re a member – in which case you can whatsapp to announce your imminent arrival. READ MORE
Details: 4 Kingly Street, W1F 9BW
Otra Vista Social Club at Dans le Noir?
Most people know about the restaurant where you eat everything in pitch darkness. But considerably fewer people know about the silent bar upstairs, where you’ll plug into a silent disco with live DJ sets, and learn the basics of British Sign Language from the hearing impaired guides, so that you can order drinks and communicate with your friends.
Details: 30-31 Clerkenwell Green EC1R 0DU | Open Wednesday – Sunday
The Sun Tavern
A sláinte-toasting, glass-clinking, Stones-playing drinking den that specialises in local brews, grown-up cocktails and the Irish spirit poitín – all housed in a brick-walled 1850s corner tavern, thanks to the team behind another cool bar in London, Discount Suit Company. READ MORE
Details: 441 Bethnal Green Road, E2 0AN
The Last Tuesday Society
Of all the dark, occult-feeling bars where you can share a booth with a taxidermied lioness, sip absinthe cocktails and snack on platters of insects before descending into a bizarre basement Wunderkabinett filled with ancient voodoo dolls, two-headed sheep and Victorian sex toys… this is probably the best. READ MORE
Details: 11 Mare Street, E8 4RP
Two drinking dens in one, including a ground floor whisky tavern with a DIY blending room, and a basement bar with a whisky library arranged by flavour profile… and a house blend that pours out of a tree. READ MORE
Details: 9 Christopher Street, EC2A 2BS
Mr Fogg’s Society of Exploration
True to its namesake, the Mr. Fogg’s bars have travelled across the city and can now be found in six locations. And just to make sure that they don’t all start feeling ‘samey’ (as far as a cocktail bar filled with bric-a-brac and curiosities from around the world, based on a fictional eccentric Victorian traveller can be)… they’ve fitted this branch out with a dedicated maps room (where you can plan your next voyage); a steampunk mechanical cocktail maker; and an entire, Orient Express-style train carriage in the middle of it. READ MORE
Details: 1a Bedford Street, WC2E 9HH
Hill Station Bar
Take the right turning as you squeeze through the Tooting Broadway market, and you’ll find yourself somewhere quite unexpected.
The Annapurna Mountains.
Specifically, a Nepalese mountainside refuge hut, which has been fully recreated in this minuscule bar complete with Everest-themed paraphernalia, Himalayan-inspired cocktails, and a direct phone line to the in-house chef.
Pretty sure they took some poetic license with that part. READ MORE
Details: Unit 14 Broadway Market, 29 Tooting High Street, SW17 0RJ
Last Updated: 30th August 2020 | Main image: Untitled
Still looking for inspiration? Check out the Nudge’s guides to…
The Best London Cocktail Bars | The Best London Speakeasies | London Bars with Live Music | London’s Top Activity Bars