Everything You Need to Know About London’s Drinks Scene

From our freshly updated guide to drinking in London to our favorite stories on the city's drinking scene, we've got your essential London primer, right this way.

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Whether you’re in London to see pretty people walk down catwalks or you just fancy a really good drink, we’ve got you covered. Our freshly updated city guide to the best London has to offer—from natural wine bars to experimental cocktail bars to gastropubs—while our favorite stories showcase both the city’s eccentric flair and serious cocktail history. Without further ado, here’s everything you need to know before lifting a pint (or coupe or wine glass) in London Town:

  • 1

    Inside London's Growing Crop of Experimental Cocktail Bars

    In a dark, subterranean room of a former gothic monastery, a crowd of people wearing plastic ponchos are stumbling around in thick fog to a soundtrack of clashing thunder and dance music. Some open their mouths wide, gaping like beached fish; others are inhaling deeply. This is Alcoholic Architecture, London’s latest outlandish pop-up, pumping vaporized Gin & Tonics into an enclosed space. “Breathe responsibly,” a sign teases, as punters drink Buckfast cocktails and Trappist beers from a menu inspired by the monks who once resided here. This is exactly the type of experience that “architectural foodsmiths” Bompas & ...

  • 2

    London's New Bathroom Bars

    As I was enjoying my teacup of Hot Buttered Rum in a London bar, an elderly chap appeared through the blue velvet curtain looking as confused as Alice at the bottom of the rabbit hole. “Beg your pardon,” he said. “I thought this was a toilet.” The bartender smiles back, and welcomes him in regardless.

    The man’s assumption was fair. From the outside, the venue looks like a public restroom: The Ladies and Gentlemen sign is intact and now illuminated to indicate the entrance to those in the know. But instead of housing a lavatory down the dark narrow steps, this is a recently opened neighborhood cocktail bar from Vestal ...

  • 3

    Inside London's Most Eccentric Drinkware Factory

    Down a side street and behind a lime green door in Hackney, Northeast London, lurks the workshop of Bespoke Barware, a quirky drinkware company handcrafting everything from cocktail mugs with the likeness of luchador masks to punchbowls fashioned from custom-made cuckoo clocks.

    Owners Jamie Wilson and Anjy Cameron founded Bespoke in 2012 in a roundabout way, coming from mixed backgrounds in events management, photography and concept and design development for brands like Bacardi Breezers during the ready-to-drink boom. Wilson decided to leave alcopop behind to surf and island hop for a spell, and then returned to ...

  • 4

    London's Most Radical New Cocktail Bar

    The last time I went to the premises that now house White Lyan, it was a crummy boozer at the wrong end of Hoxton that specialized in pole-dancing, bad rock and warm beer. Ten years later, the pole-dancing platform is still there (and, occasionally, so are the rock bands, though I can’t vouch for their quality), but the warm beer has been replaced by one of the most ambitious—and controversial—cocktail concepts to hit London in some time. You see, White Lyan doesn’t deal in perishables: no ice, no lemons, no fruit juices, no fresh garnishes, no milk, no eggs—nothing. Despite the fact the place has a regularly ...

  • 5

    The Mystery of the London-Style Old-Fashioned

    The 1990s were not a good decade for the Old-Fashioned. The classic cocktail’s previous heyday—the two decades following World War II—was a distant memory. If a bartender remembered the drink at all, they’d use low quality well whiskey combined with an orange slice and maraschino cherry, often muddled, and top the resultant compote with seltzer or soda. A couple corners of the world did, however, serve as incubators for the drink. But each came with serious provincial strings attached. One haven was the Midwest, particularly Wisconsin and Minnesota, where the Old-Fashioned’s popularity never faded. But if you ...

  • 6

    The British Are Coming: Will London's Craft Gins Sell Stateside?

    At the height of the British Gin Craze of the 18th century, the English were drinking over six gallons of gin per person per year. It was also the only time in the country’s history when more people were dying than being born. Luckily, our gin skills quickly improved from that early turpentine-laced, 160-proof death juice, but it was the start of Britain’s long love affair with the juniper-based spirit. And it is this rich history of gin making that the new artisanal London Dry gin brands are channelling as they arrive on American shores. While Britain continues to produce some of the best-selling gins in the ...

  • 7

    Creating the Closed-Loop Cocktail

    There was a time I wouldn’t consider ordering spicy blood and pig’s head sausage. Or crunchy chitterlings. Or, any of the off-cuts that have made their way onto trendy menus since "nose-to-tail" dining hit London restaurants. Here, we have British chef Fergus Henderson to thank for all the bone marrow and brains. He has championed this style of cooking at his London restaurant since 1994, claiming it was quite simply “polite” to consume the whole animal. The trend was slow to cross the channel, but after Mario Batali made offal a mainstay at his New York restaurant Babbo, it gained legs, and by 2008 it'd become ...