The Best Bars In Covent Garden & Holborn | We’ll drink to that
Given the sheer number and variety of tourists & locals who regularly flock to Covent Garden & Holborn literally every day, the watering holes there have to be able to cater to – pretty much – anyone on earth. So it’s no surprise then, that they’re so bloody good.
And these are the very best…
B.Y.O.C. (Bring Your Own Cocktail) is like no other cocktail bar you’ve ever been to. It’s hidden underneath a juice bar. They don’t stock any alcohol – you’ll need to bring a bottle. The drinks are technically free – you just pay for your time there, and drink as many cocktails as you like. There are no menus – you simply tell the bartender what you’re in the mood for, and they create something from the various juices, herbs, tinctures, and mixers they have.
Mr Foggs Tavern
Technically a restaurant and a bar put together, it’s the latter portion of that equation that we’re most concerned with. Because it’s the one that’s 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.
One of the best kept secrets in the city, Freuds has bare concrete walls covered in rotating artworks, 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.
A crepuscular, subterranean, semi-circular cave carved from bedrock, and lit by candle light, Gordon’s 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.
All Star Lanes
Bowling’s great. Especially when you combine it with cocktails, non-sweaty shoes, a 1950’s vibe, an authentic American diner, and private karaoke booths.
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 1930’s) are still served there, with the nightly musical backdrop provided by a DJ’d crooner tinkling on the ivories. And frankly, we’d expect nothing less.
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, above, and on top of the tables. And you can watch them just as easily with one of their fine drinks from the Worldwide Cocktail Club.
Bedford & Strand
This underground wine bar has an alluringly simple, French quality to it. The space is unpretentious and laid-back. They serve good cocktails, great wine, and some quality charcuterie & cheese to soak them up with.
Tropicana Beach Club
TBC is big, it’s bold, and while drinks aren’t quite free, it’s essentially everything George Michael dreamed of. The centre of the club features a digitally enhanced, interactive dancefloor, on which you’ll be avoiding (virtual) sharks and participating in (actual) shot-laden surfboard limbo contests. Cocktails are served in anything from coconut-laden palm trees to actual miniature yachts. And the live entertainment on offer includes an “elemental magician”, steel drum bands, cabaret acts and fire entertainers.
If you’re ever in Holborn, and are in the mood to play ping pong on one of 17 tables, in the very room that the game was invented in, then drink a few cocktails from a seasonally rotating menu at a 40ft bar before dancing the night out to a DJ… then we have just the place for you.
This drawing room-meets-gentleman’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 (Gerald’s Marguerite, with gin, orange bitters, and “cartoonist’s punch”) and is backed up by the selection of over 200 single malt whiskies and over 60 gins.
A basement cocktail bar with a simple menu of traditional French 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. Unless you don’t have arms.