Mix it up: Raise your glass to London's best rooftop cocktail bars with a view

Philip Salter
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Try a Snow Fight at Radio Rooftop Bar

Architects and engineers are at war with the sky. While they battle it out, the rest of us can sit back and raise a glass to the men and women who are realising humanity’s inexorable urge to break the heavens. Each skyscraper will have its day – but there can be no winners. Just consider The Gherkin; it was once the toast of the City but it will soon be as disposable as a McDonald’s pickle.

The best part of London’s Wild West skyline is the mind-blowing views you get from the buildings. The Shard is the money shot, but it costs a pretty penny to get to the top. And when you get there, how long will you be willing to freeze out on the viewing platform?
Instead, set your sights a bit lower – the thirty-first floor at Aqua Shard. The interior is somewhat hollow and there is no getting away from the tourist vibe, but the views are amazing, the cocktails decent and the urinals a power trip (anyone not sporting a Y chromosome will probably have to take my word for it).
This newspaper thrust the Walkie-Talkie into worldwide notoriety for precisely the wrong reason. Overnight, it was renamed the Walkie-Scorchie due the concave structure channelling sunlight to a point hot enough to fry an egg. Its recently opened SkyGarden is suffering from exactly the opposite problem. The place is positively Arctic. As you come out of the lifts you’ll be met by staff dressed for an expedition to the North Pole. The garden is impressive, but the delicate plants mean the heating can’t be turned up.
The Sky Pod bar has spectacular views across the City, but you might want to wait until the summer. Instead, get out of the cold and duck into the bars of Darwin Brassiere or Fenchurch Seafood Bar & Grill, where you’ll get the views without the frostbite.
If you’re going to be cold, you might as well be outside. And my top tip for a bar with a view is ME Hotel’s Radio Rooftop Bar. It’s not a new build, but a refurbishment of a 1920s crescent, and once the home of the Gaiety Theatre.
It’s not as high as its competitors, but its views over Somerset House, Trafalgar Square and London Bridge are unique. Grey Goose has teamed up with the Radio Rooftop Bar for a special menu until March, and the outside bar has been turned into an urban après-ski Winter retreat. The heaters are strong, the Spanish tapas tasty and the cocktails delicious. Cosy up next to one of one of their scrumptious, hot punches, the Cabin Fever and Snow Fight.


  • 200ml Grey Goose vodka
  • 50ml Lillet Blanc
  • 500ml apple juice
  • Handful of mint and lemon thyme
  • Heat together and garnish with cinnamon sticks and a slice of fresh orange

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