While London might not be the most populated city* on the planet, there are times when we want to hide away from the hustle of London’s busy streets and settle somewhere and to have a quiet drink.


So where do you go when you think you already know the capital well? You’ve already sussed out the no-go, touristy areas. You’ve even managed to find a decent local near your flat. But what about when you want to go somewhere a bit special or exclusive for a must-have cocktail?

Luckily, we’ve done some difficult work (it was very hard), discovering all the secret and hidden dens and dives to ensure you can get a superb cocktail with an intimate setting. These places are perfect for catching up with an old friend, a date or just the chance to show off to out-of-towners.

*For those of you that love a bit of useless knowledge, the accolade of most populated city goes to Shanghai with over 24 million people!

EXPERIMENTAL COCKTAIL CLUB

CHINATOWN
13A Gerrard Street, London

The vibe: The Experimental Cocktail Club is an above-ground speakeasy is easily missed but look for a brown door wedged between two Chinese restaurants. The cocktails might take a while, but they’re definitely worth it.
Booking: It’s not compulsory to make a reservation, but from our own experience, it’s probably best to do so as it gets pretty crowded in there.
Opening times: Monday-Saturday 6pm-3am, Sunday 6pm-12am.


69 COLEBROOKE ROW

ISLINGTON
69 Colebrooke Row, London N1 8AA

The vibe: Identifiable by a lantern and burgundy awnings, once inside 69 Colebrooke Row, the interior “blends 1950s Italian café style with a film noir feel”. Head here for experimental cocktails.
Booking: You should book but bear in mind a table is only available for an hour and a half for a maximum of six people. (They’re not being mean, it’s just that it’s a small venue).
Opening times: Sunday-Wednesday 5pm-12am, Thursday 5pm-1am, Friday-Saturday 5pm-2am.


BOURNE AND HOLLINGSWORTH

FITZROVIA
28 Rathbone Place, London W1T 1JF

The vibe: The best way to find Bourne and Hollingsworth is to look for the 1920s corner shop, which is located not far from Tottenham Court Road. This small and perfectly formed bar boasts retro styling, and a laid-back, intimate parlour feel.
Booking: It’s not essential to book.
Opening times: Monday-Tuesday 5pm-1am, Wednesday-Saturday 5pm-2am, Sunday closed.


CELLAR DOOR

ALDWYCH
Zero Aldwych, London WC2E 7DN

The vibe: Music lovers will enjoy the fact Cellar Door have live acts every night, and you can text in your song requests to the jukebox. Not only that they say they’ve got the sexiest lavatories in the UK – we’re intrigued.
Booking: You can make reservations during the week and guarantee admission at the weekend if you pay a £10 fee per person.
Opening times: 4pm- 1am every day.


EVANS AND PEEL DETECTIVE AGENCY

EARLS COURT
310 Earls Court Road, London SW5 9BA

The vibe: If you look at their website, you’d be forgiven for wondering if Evans and Peel really is an actual real-life detective agency. Fear not, you can get booze here. Their food menu looks very tasty too.
Booking: Best to email ideally a week in advance. According to their site: “we do leave a few desks open every evening for those ‘drop-in’ appointments. Every new case will be handled with utmost confidentiality.”
Opening times: Closed on Mondays, Tuesday-Sunday 5pm-12am.


DANGER OF DEATH

BRICK LANE
202 Brick Lane, London

The vibe: Danger of Death is brought to you by the same people who created Milk & Honey, this bar offers many cocktails – 20 to be exact. In fact, if you get through them all, they’ll stamp your book (yes, they offer you a book), and give you a £50 bar tab.
Booking: Best to make a reservation as it’s a first come, first served system.
Opening times: Wednesday-Saturday 6pm-1am, Sunday-Tuesday closed.


THE MAYOR OF SCAREDY CAT TOWN

EAST LONDON
12-16 Artillery Lane, London E1 7LS

The vibe: Located in The Breakfast Club, you have to walk through a Smeg fridge (we promise, we’re not making this up), to get to the bar. Once there, settle in and enjoy the intimate atmosphere.
Booking: You can’t make reservations here so it’s advised to avoid the super busy times (i.e. the weekend) if you’re coming with a group of more than six people.
Opening times: Monday-Thursday 5pm-12am, Friday 3pm-12am, Saturday 12pm-12am, Sunday 12pm-10.30pm.


HAPPINESS FORGETS

HOXTON
8-9 Hoxton Square, London N1 6NU

The vibe: Their own description really sells this place to us: “Great cocktails, no wallies.”
Booking: They regularly get fully booked for the weekend evenings but to make a reservation for parties of up to six people, send an email to [email protected]
Opening times: 5.30pm-11pm every night, but open at 6pm on Sundays.


PURL

MARYLEBONE
50-54 Blandford St, London W1U 7HX

The vibe: The password to get to Purl in is ‘hair of the dog’. Other things you need to know is that this place prides itself on giving you an experience with its cocktails, which they say satisfy on a multi-sensory level, using aroma, fogs, airs, foams, food, bespoke service-ware and liquid nitrogen. There’s also live jazz two times per week.
Booking: It’s advised to book few days in advance to get a table at the weekend, and they’re also usually full booked during the week, just make sure you have a reservation to avoid being disappointed.
Opening times: Monday-Friday 5pm-11.30pm, Saturday 5pm-12am.


BARTS

KNIGHTSBRIDGE
87 Sloane Avenue, London SW3 3DW

The vibe: Set in the 1920s prohibition era, this place is run by Chicago gangsters who have set up in London (not really, don’t worry). Uncle Barts’ gangsters are operating their bootlegging activities from this hidden bar within one of the many apartments located on Sloane Avenue.
Booking: It’s advised to book although it’s not mandatory.
Opening times: Open from 6pm ’til late every day.


KNOWHERE SPECIAL

KENTISH TOWN
The basement, 296 Kentish Town Road, London NW5

The vibe: Next to the Mamma Mia caff on Kentish Town Road, Knowhere Special has a Chinese laundry-inspired corridor, graffitied by local artist Jeba, and is also lined with washing hanging from the ceiling. Apparently, the space belongs to a former Victoria police station, so you’ll be sipping cocktails in cells.
Bookings: N/A.
Opening times: Thursday-Sunday 5pm-late.


THE DISCOUNT SUIT COMPANY

EAST LONDON
29A Wentworth Street, London E1 7TB

The vibe: Not far from Liverpool Street, The Discount Suit Company is located in the basement of an old suit tailor’s stock room. So far, so horror story creepy, but don’t let that put you off, they have brilliant cocktails, Neal’s Yard cheese platters and background music in the form of Northern Soul.
Booking: You can either walk in or make a reservation.
Opening times: Monday-Tuesday 5pm-11pm, Wednesday-Thursday 5pm-12am, Friday-Saturday 2pm-1am.


NIGHTJAR

OLD STREET
129 City Rd, London EC1V 1JB

The vibe: One again, this speakeasy-style bar means that you could walk straight passed without realising – just make sure you look out for the little bird on the door. Budding historians will also enjoy that they’ve divided the cocktail list into historical eras.
Booking: It’s advised to make a booking on the Nightjar website (they don’t take calls for reservations), also tell them if you’re running late – they’ll only hold your table for 15 minutes.
Opening times: Friday-Saturday 6pm-3am, Thursday 6pm-2am, Sunday-Wednesday 6pm-1am.


BYOC AT THE JUICE PEOPLE

COVENT GARDEN
28 Bedfordbury, London WC2N 4BJ

The vibe:  BYOC is a different type of bar, in that you have to bring your own booze (no, that’s not a joke). But that’s OK, as expert mixologists are there to help turn your bottle of spirits (best to go with a group who bring different types) into a range of wonderful concoctions. Just make sure you know to walk through the shut juice bar to get there.
Booking: Important to book as this is a very, very, intimate setting. You might also only want to bring people you know very well as you’ll be sitting close to them.
Opening Hours: 6pm-11pm every night.


NOLA

SHOREDITCH
1st floor, 68 Rivington Street, London EC2A 3AY

The vibe: Creole flavours and the sound of jazz and blues makes NOLA East London’s answer to New Orleans.
Bookings: Always best to book here.
Opening times: Tuesday-Thursday 6pm-1am, Friday-Saturday 6pm-3am, Sundays closed.


THE NEW EVARISTO CLUB (AKA TRISHA’S)

SOHO
57 Greek Street, London W1D 3DX

The vibe: Behind a blue door, you’ll find The New Evaristo Club in Soho, better known as Trish’s after it’s charming owner. Your best bet is to wander in all confidently, and pretend like you know what you’re doing. One of Soho’s most vibrant after hours spots, you are guaranteed to meet a fascinating local in the tiny smoking area or have a singalong with a neighbouring table.
Booking: Don’t book, just walk in (see above). Entry fee might be £2. Depends on if you look like you belong there.
Opening times: Monday-Saturday 5pm-1am, Sunday 6.20pm-12.3am.


LOUNGE BOHEMIA

EAST LONDON
1e Great Eastern Street, London EC2A 3EJ

The vibe: Through an open doorway between a kebab shop and a newsagents, you walk along the Czech newspaper lined corridor and down the stairs into the basement. There, you’ll find cocktails made with imagination, creativity and a little bit of science, and each one comes with a canape to match the cocktail’s flavour. Note: they have a no suits policy.
Booking: Their total capacity is 32 and the biggest table they seat is eight people, so because Lounge Bohemia is so small and a non-standing bar with table service, they’re exclusively by appointment and you need to book ahead by calling 077 2070 7000.
Opening times: Monday-Saturday 6pm-12am, Sunday 6pm-11pm.


THE LIQUOR CABINET

HACKNEY
184 Hackney Road, London E2 7QL

The vibe: You’ll find the entrance to The Liquor Cabinet behind the Golden Grill.
Bookings: There are no reservations here.
Opening times: Tuesday-Wednesday 5pm-12am, Thursday-Saturday 5pm-12.30am.


THE BLIND PIG AT THE SOCIAL EATING HOUSE

SOHO
58 Poland Street, London W1F 7NR

The vibe: Social Eating House is one of renowned chef Jason Atherton’s restaurants, but if you head to the door on the right and take the stairs you’ll find the Blind Pig bar.
Booking: You can call to make a reservation for the bar.
Opening times: Monday-Saturday 12pm-12am.


REV JW SIMPSON

FITZROVIA
32 Goodge Street, London W1T 2QJ

The vibe: Halfway down Goodge Street you will see a blue plaque bearing Rev JW Simpson’s name and how long he lived there. Also two candles on the ground on either side of the door helps you find your way. Then walk downstairs into a bar that looks like the reverend’s old flat.
Booking: Recommended booking for Rev JW Simpson as it is mostly table service.
Opening times: Tuesday-Saturday 5pm-11.30pm.


RUBY’S

DALSTON
76 Stoke Newington Road, London N16 7XB

The vibe: Set underneath the cinema sign at 76 Stoke Newington Road, Ruby’s is an intimate subterranean drinking den serving expertly mixed cocktails and quality alternatives in a unique and atmospheric setting. Set up by Tom Gibson in the former kitchen of Chinese takeaway Ruby House 3, the room was stripped back and adorned with a Mayfair bar and some delicate interior alterations.
Booking: You can book but they only accept them until 8pm and they can’t accommodate more than eight people on a Friday/Saturday night. To book a table email your name, time and number to [email protected].
Opening times: Tuesday-Thursday 6.30pm-12am, Friday-Saturday 6.30pm-2am.


THE KING OF LADIES MAN

CLAPHAM
5-9 Battersea Rise, London SW11 1HG

The vibe: Enter The King through a secret sliding wall in the Breakfast Club’s launderette, to find a 1970s-style pad.
Booking: You can book into The King Of Ladies Man only Monday-Wednesday (up to 25 guests) by emailing [email protected] or by calling 020 7078 9630. On all other nights you just need to ask if you can go through.
Opening times: Monday closed, Tuesday-Thursday 5pm-12am, Friday 5pm-1am, Saturday 12pm-1am, Sunday 12pm-10.30pm.


GERRY’S CLUB

SOHO
52 Dean Street, London W1D 5BJ

The vibe: OK, we’ll admit it. We don’t know that much about Gerry’s Club other than we know it’s legendary. But from what we gather it’s a fairly selective club. Apparently, you have to ring the door bell and say you want to have a drink. But they have a camera attached to the door in order to see what you look like – glad rags on then.
Bookings: Not likely.
Opening times: Difficult to say.


WORSHIP STREET WHISTLING STOP

EAST LONDON
63 Worship St, London EC2A 2DU

The vibe: As well as incredible cocktails, these guys have a great selection of food by the Ginger Pig (pork pies, pate, meat platters).
Bookings: Booking is not essential. Seats at the bar are non-reservable. Booking is advised if you want to guarantee a table.
Opening times: Monday-Tuesday 5pm-12am, Wednesday-Thursday open till 1am, Friday-Saturday open till 2am.


MIZUWARI

SOHO
16 Old Compton Street, London

The vibe: Situated below the Bincho grill restaurant, this bar is solely dedicated to Japanese whisky.
Bookings: No reservations.
Opening times: Closed on Sunday nights, Monday-Saturday 5pm-12am.