With party season in full swing, there’s never been a better time to visit some buzzy new bars in London. Over recent months, there’s been a slew of new cocktail bars opening across the capital, from the ever-popular Nightjar’s new Soho location to a decadent subterranean spot in the vaults of the Royal Exchange. Here, we’ve rounded up the best new London bars to be seen in this season.
Tucked away below the opulent NoMad Hotel in Covent Garden sits a suitably ornate new drinking spot: Common Decency, helmed by the duo behind some of the world’s best bars, Leo Robitschek and Liana Oster. Located in the famous Bow Street police station where Oscar Wilde was tried for an affront to common decency (hence the name), the décor is decadently louche, with sultry dim lighting, heavy brocade curtains and velvet tasselled chairs to sink into.
But the best seat in the house is actually perched at the bar, where you can watch the cocktail maestros at work as they whip up their avant-garde tipples. Don’t expect your run-of-the-mill drink here – the emphasis is firmly on the experimental, with unusual ingredients like butternut squash, quince and Szechuan oil taking centre stage. The glassware is just as whimsical as the cocktails; the Taste the Rainbow, made with vodka, Poire Williams, quince skin and sherry, is served in multicoloured flashing neon tumbler.
28 Bow Street, Covent Garden, London WC2E 7AW
There are few cocktails as famous as the Dry Martini at Duke’s, and few bartenders more notorious than Salvatore Calabrese, the man who perfected said Martini recipe. Now the legendary cocktail maestro has teamed up with the Corinthia hotel to open a glorious new bar, that’s as rich and sumptuous as its name would suggest. With interiors designed by David Collins Studio – the team behind other big-hitters such as The Connaught Bar and The Blue Bar at The Berkeley – you’ll find plenty of jewel-toned velvet and flattering lighting in the 20s-themed lounge.
Billed as a luxury champagne and cocktail bar, the drinks pull together classic combinations and cutting-edge mixology, with a menu that reads: “A bar is like a great theatre, welcome to ours.” There are 1920s classics like the Boulevardier and the Champagne Charlie, as well as 2020s concoctions that include a Truffle Sazerac and a Tiky Tok, made with rum, pineapple tepache, orange juice and banana nectar. Then, of course, there’s an entire page dedicated to Calabrese’s legendary Martinis – hailed here as the “king of the cocktails”.
10 Whitehall Place, Whitehall, London SW1A 2BD
Nestled in the historic vaults under The Royal Exchange, this cavernous bar – which is spread over 7,500 square feet – is the first venue to serve alcohol in London with a Royal Licence. The site itself was opened by Queen Elizabeth I in 1571 and was originally used as a warehouse for the storage of spices, silks and gold. Now it’s one of the most vibrant drinking and dining spots in The City.
With several different spaces available for hire – including two private dining rooms and a whiskey vault for paired whiskey experiences – it’s already become a firm favourite on the London party scene with revellers looking for an elevated late-night spot for carousing. There’s a delightfully extensive wine list on offer, as well as plenty of cocktails to choose form – including several made with their own in-house Libertine gin.
1a Royal Exchange, Cornhill, London, EC3V 3LL
When Nightjar first opened in Shoreditch in 2010, it quickly went on to cement itself as one of the most exciting new bar offerings not just in London but globally, being voted one of the top three bars in the world at 50 Best Bars for three years in a row. Now, over a decade later, they’ve opened their second outpost in Soho, in the basement of Kingly Court. Heading down to the subterranean bar is like returning to the Roaring Twenties, with prohibition-era decor and a menu of vintage spirits and cocktails dating back to the mid-19th century.
The jazz age has been brought into the 21st-centeury by way of elegant Art Deco interiors, with rose gold and mirror details and bespoke illustrated glass panels on the walls. Dark corners and intimate booths provide the perfect spots to settle in for a night of live jazz, blues and swing performances, and the site holds an illustrious place in the history of London’s iconic music venues, having once been home to The Blue Lagoon Club, the city’s first black-owned music club. The menu features a mix of Pre-Prohibition, Prohibition and Post-War inspired drinks, as well as several Nightjar signatures long-time fans will recognise.
49-51 Carnaby Street, Soho, London W1F 9PY
The latest venture from Artfarm – the hospitality group helmed by gallerists Iwan and Manuela Wirth – has made plenty of headlines since opening earlier this year, thanks to the fact that King Charles and the Queen Consort Camilla have already been spotted dining at the venue’s chic first-floor Mount St Restaurant. But it’s on the ground floor that you’ll find the Audley Public House, surely the artiest pub in London – how many others can claim a mosaic by Phyllida Barlow on the ceiling?
Though this Mayfair pub has technically been open for 200 years, it’s been given a significant makeover courtesy of Artfarm, retaining all the cosy charm of a traditional neighbourhood pub with added refined touches and world-class art lining the walls. Despite its Mayfair environs, there’s nothing stuffy and pretentious about this place – you can’t reserve tables and there are the usual bar snacks of scotch eggs and sausage rolls to go along with your pint.
41-43 Mount Street, Mayfair, London W1K 2RX
Studio 54 has gone down in history as one of the world’s most decadent late-night party spots – now a new bar in Shoreditch is looking to recreate that same magic in the capital. Spread across a vast multi-storey townhouse and filled with statement retro interiors inspired by the 70s and 80s, 25 Paul Street celebrates great music – with big-name DJ acts like Disco Disco, Harpies and Parable taking to the decks on a regular basis – against a backdrop of glittering disco balls and mind-bending visuals.
During the week the bar is set across the lower two floors of the red-brick townhouse, but come Saturday all five floors come into play, as the venue throws the ultimate house party. The cocktail list is made up of modern, unfussy drinks inspired by 70s classics – think Harvey Wallbangers, New York Sours and Strawberry Daiquiris. There are also house cocktails, with more than a few created in homage to its Studio 54 inspiration – try Bianca’s White Horse, which is made with mezcal, Cocchi Americano and Italicus.
23-25 Paul Street, Shoreditch, London EC2A 4JU
Billed as a “pub for wine drinkers”, this is the first foray into the bar world from the people behind the hip lockdown-born, online natural wine shop of the same name. Housed in a 2,000 square foot Victorian warehouse near Brick Lane that doubles up as a restaurant, this is the place to come if you’re a fan of natural wines, and you’ll find plenty of orange wines from around the world on the menu alongside Catalonian whites and low ABV Jura reds.
If natural wine isn’t your thing, never fear – there’s also Lambic beer on offer, as well as a classic cocktail list with offerings that include chilli margaritas and smoked tea Old Fashioneds. As for the food, that will come courtesy of a roster of rotating residencies in the kitchen, the first from street-food favourites Decatur. Considering Oranj has partnered with the likes of Brat, Manteca and The Clove Club in the past, we’re excited to see who’ll be cooking up a storm next.
14 Bacon Street, Shoreditch, London E1 6LF