From Mexican-inspired mezcal dens to retro city hangouts, if you’re after a new watering hole we’ve whittled down our pick of the best new bars, cocktail haunts and secret speakeasies popping up in the city this month, guaranteed to quench your thirst come Friday night.
Number 177 Bar & Kitchen
This creative space-cum-restaurant-bar will prove a magnet for Hackney-ites, expect an ever-changing roster of artists’ exhibitions and special events – think workshops, galleries, bingo and quizzes – as well as an eclectic mix of live musicians and DJ sets. The industrial setting is scattered with graffiti wall art, bespoke metal poker lights and distressed wooden trestle tables, and has a touch of Berlin cool about it – befitting for Hackney – and downstairs you’ll find a fluorescent orange photo booth where you can snap the perfect selfie shot.
Number 177 Bar & Kitchen, 177 Hoxton St, Hoxton N1
Mezcal is really making its mark on the London drinking scene, with punchy tequila joints popping up all over the city. The latest comes in the form of El Bandito – a Mexican pop-up serving no less than 50 different types of tequila and 25 mezcals. That’s a lot of tequila. Having conquered the mezcal scene in Liverpool, business partners John Ennis and Matt Farrell are bringing a slice of South American action to the heart of Shoreditch, with a two-month residency in the basement of dim sum favourite, The Drunken Monkey. The intimate space only holds 40 people, so prepare to get cosy, and the interior is vibrant Mexican, so look forward to bright splashes of colour and plenty of cacti.
El Bandito pop-up, 222 Shoreditch High Street, Shoreditch E1, open until early June
Matt Whiley, the man behind Bethnal Green’s Peg + Patriot and the wheelie bin cocktail, has launched a new cocktail bar in Hoxton. Scout prides itself on being entirely British, seasonal and sustainable, using only the freshest ingredients as well as foraged goods, in a bid to reduce waste and champion sustainability. Seasonal cocktails and house ferments feature heavily, as well as a small selection of beers and natural wine, and if you’re peckish, you can tuck into the short-and-sweet snacks menu, which makes use of all leftover cocktail ingredients. Dishes include toasted sourdough with house kohlrabi sauerkraut and London coppa; fried vegetable skins with house seasoning; and pickled celeriac with truffle.
Scout, 93 Great Eastern Street, Shoreditch EC2
The Refinery CityPoint
The latest venue from the Drake & Morgan team comes steeped in mid-century design with patterned wallpapers, sumptuous leather sofas and retro pendant lighting. This is A-grade comfort with a huge hit of style. Relax on the sofas and work your way through the extensive wine list, glasses of fizz and quirky craft cocktails, for an evening of pure indulgence.
The Refinery CityPoint, 1 Ropemaker Street, The City EC2Y
A one-stop shop for drinking, dining, take out and tasting, TT Liquor masquerades as a bottle shop by day before turning into a secret speakeasy by night, serving up creative cocktails and premium liquors. Upstairs the bottle shop – housed inside a former 19th century police station – comes fully stocked with all the wines, liquors and craft beers you could possible imagine, whilst downstairs opens up into a secret cocktail den serving seductive Prohibition-inspired tipples. Regulars can create their own private liquor collection in one of the special member’s deposit boxes, while the former jail cells – now known as ‘Tasting Vaults' – provide an intimate space for specially curated tasting sessions. Snacks will change on a quarterly basis, with different chefs stepping in to take over the TT Liquor kitchen. First up will be the JUMA Kitchen, who will serve a selection of sumptuous Iraqi-inspired Middle Eastern delights. There’s also a huge studio in the back, where they’ll host cocktail making classes, pop-up dining clubs and tasting workshops.
TT Liquor, 17B Kingsland Rd, Shoreditch E2
Soul Store West
Take a trip to the deep South with a visit to this all-day diner and cocktail bar where music takes centre stage. There’s live music every Thursday to Sunday and as the night goes on DJs take over playing a rotation of old soul and funk records. Situated just off Oxford Street, this down-to-earth bar and restaurant promises a wild night of revelry, dancing and tunes you won’t hear anywhere else. Drink are inspired by the legends of Motown, so expect fruity, dark rum cocktails – we recommend the Peach Tea Smash. And if you’re feeling hungry, soul food by gourmet BBQ experts Chicago Rib Shack is served all day; the small plates – think spicy chicken wings, mac n cheese bites and pulled pork spring rolls – make the ideal accompaniment to a cocktail (or three). Head here for a hefty dose of good vibes, a party atmosphere and, of course, soul.
Soul Store West, 34 Kilburn High Road, Kilburn NW6