The Best Restaurant Bars in London

The reach of the British Empire and its vast commercial interests paved the way for a robust and varied wine and spirits trade, which thrived for centuries and continues to influence local drinking customs. But a relatively recent arrival—the practice of pairing playful or classic cocktails with masterfully prepared food—has led to a major boom in restaurant bars. A simultaneous revival of quality British ingredients—not to mention local spirits—has only nourished a new bond between food and drink at London’s restaurant bars. —Katie Parla

  • 1

    Bar Américain at Brasserie Zédel

    Below street level, Bar Américain serves classic cocktails in an opulent art deco space designed by David Collins.  Housed inside Brasserie Zédel, a traditional Parisian brasserie, the dimly-lit cocktail lounge serves all of the classic cocktails at shockingly affordable prices considering the opulent West End location.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • bar food
    • craft cocktails
    • lots of whiskey
    • lots of rum
  • 2

    Barnyard

    Ollie Dabbous and Oskar Kinberg strike again at Barnyard, Fitzrovia’s farmhouse-themed restaurant outfitted aptly with corrugated metal walls and roughhewn bar planks. Sausage rolls and grilled meats are served up alongside milkshakes (mixed with bourbon and rum and served in milk bottles) and elderflower and strawberry shandies.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • bar food
    • full menu
    • craft cocktail
    • day drinking
    • lots of whiskey
    • outdoor / patio
    • cheap date
  • 3

    Berners Tavern at The London Edition

    Gilding, stucco, marble and wood conspire to make Berners Tavern one of the glitziest spots in town. Since its revamp by the Marriott group and Ian Schrager, the hotel has attracted a posh clientele to its restaurant banquettes. But mere mortals can also grab a seat at the bar and marvel at the amber-illuminated shelves of booze while sipping a cocktail. Helmed by Michelin starred chef, Jason Atherton of Pollen Street Social, Berners' restaurant and bar are open all day.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • bar food
    • full menu
    • craft cocktails
    • good wine
    • day drinking
    • lots of whiskey
    • lots of rum
    • lots of tequila / mezcal
    • hotel bar
  • 4

    Chiltern Firehouse

    One of the most-talked about scenes in London right now, Hotelier André Balazs' red-hot Chiltern Firehouse is the kind of place where it's not uncommon for every notable British supermodel and actor to be in the same room, at the same time. But in defiance of the regular celebrity-hangout tropes, the food and drink are as much of a draw as the scene. An excellent, progressive wine list (with a focus on America's more avant-garde producers) is offered alongside a brief, easy-to-love list of drinks.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • good wine
    • bar food
    • full menu
  • 5

    Grain Store

    Chef Bruno Loubet (also of Zetter Townhouse) serves an eclectic, vegetable-driven menu, while the bar is steered by cocktail innovator Tony Conigliaro of 69 Colebrooke Row. In addition to a spirit and Champagne-based cocktail menu, Conigliaro has created cocktails inspired by antiquity including those of Greco-Roman times when herbs, spices, honeys and syrups were mixed with wine to make it more palatable.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • bar food
    • full menu
    • good wine
    • craft cocktails
    • day drinking
  • 6

    Gymkhana

    In colonial India, men's sports clubs were referred to as "Gymkhana clubs." London's Gymkhana—and ambitious new Indian restaurant off Piccadilly Square—recreates the experience, allowing guests to dine and drink opulently within the confines of dark wooden walls and velour sofas. In keeping with the theme the bar, there's a strong selection of arrack-based punches and drinks that routinely call on tropical fruit and Asian spices.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • full menu
    • craft cocktails
  • 7

    La Bodega Negra

    Not to be confused with the street-level café of the same name around the corner on Moor Street, La Bodega Negra restaurant and bar is an evening-only, dimly-lit basement decked out hacienda style.  Enter through the sex shop on Old Compton Street and descend into this Mexican restaurant known for its extensive list of Margaritas and massive tequila and mezcal collections.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • full menu
    • bar food
    • craft cocktails
    • lots of tequila / mezcal
  • 8

    Oskar’s Bar at Dabbous

    The basement bar of Dabbous, called Oskar’s Bar after its mixologist and restaurant co-owner, Oskar Kinberg, serves seasonal cocktails with snacks from the upstairs kitchen. The drinks list changes constantly to accommodate Kinberg’s house-made cordials, syrups, infusions and barrel-aged spirits.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • bar food
    • full menu
    • craft cocktails
    • good wine
    • day drinking
    • lots of whiskey
    • lots of rum
    • lots of tequila / mezcal
    • live music
  • 9

    Quo Vadis

    Quo Vadis, which opened in the heart of Soho in 1926, was taken over by Sam and Eddie Hart (of Barrafina and Fino fame) a few years back, and now has a new and improved direction. The exquisite modern British food from Chef Jeremy Lee’s kitchen is also served in the bar, which is housed in a small room preceding the main dining room. Snag a bar table for a drink and a meal or sidle up to the copper bar for a stiff Martini.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • bar food
    • full menu
    • craft cocktails
    • good wine
    • day drinking
    • lots of whiskey
    • lots of rum
    • lots of tequila / mezcal
    • historic
    • outdoors / patio
  • 10

    Social Bar at Pollen Street Social

    Social Bar, the 40-seat bar at chef Jason Atherton’s Michelin-starred restaurant, is an expansion of the menu with cocktails and small plates. A perfect mirror of the kitchen’s ability to marry flavor, technique and whimsy, Social Bar is bartender Monica Berg's eccentric experiment in seasonal, British ingredients blended with customized spirits and artistry, plus lots of delightful cocktail names like The Artist Formerly Known as Quince.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • bar food
    • craft cocktails
    • day drinking
    • good wine
    • lots of whiskey
    • lots of rum
    • lots of tequila / mezcal
    • live music
  • 11

    The Clove Club

    Chef Isaac McHale’s restaurant in the Shoreditch Town Hall serves a multi-course, prix-fixe menu, while the bar offers lighter bar fare, craft cocktails and natural wines. The stylishly spartan bar area specializes in classic cocktails, many of which employ house made syrups and British spirits in keeping with the ethos of the food, which pays homage to overlooked British ingredients.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • bar food
    • full menu
    • craft cocktails
    • good wine
    • day drinking
    • lots of whiskey
    • natural wine
  • 12

    The Dairy

    This rustic Clapham joint attempts severals things at once, and does them all well. The star here may be the restaurants clever, revisionist take on British cuisine, with a very literal take on seasonality (the restaurant has their own rooftop garden), but the carefully crafted drinks program has made it a bona fide watering hole as well. This is only bolstered by the fact that the restaurant operates as a cocktail bar on Friday and Saturday nights.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • full menu
    • bar food
    • craft cocktails
    • good wine
  • 13

    The Quality Chop House

    The Quality Chop House was founded in 1869 and has been in business ever since. Although the name and much of the interior remains the same, it’s unlikely it has ever been as good as it is now. The heritage-protected building is split in two; on one side is the dining room, where you can settle in for daily set menus celebrating the best of British produce; and on the other is the bar where you can just grab a hunk of cheese and some salumi or sit down to grouse with all the trimmings. As the name suggests, chef Shaun Searley’s menu focuses on rare breeds and choice cuts, which are aged in house and selected daily ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • bar food
    • full menu
    • craft cocktails
    • vintage wine
    • day drinking
    • historic

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