London cocktail bars are proudly dingy places. They’re described as “subterranean,” or “dimly-lit” or “dens.” That makes sense in the winter when we want to escape the bitterness with a biting smack of tequila on the tongue.
But what about in summer, when we’re still after fine cocktails but with some more air to breathe, perhaps even the sky above us?
Here are some places to go for London views with something of a decent strength in your hand this summer.
The Classic Spot: Frank’s Peckham
This bar used to be literally named after an aperitif. Originally called Frank’s Campari Bar, this spot renamed to become just Frank’s around the same time it became a London institution, some ten plus years ago. The cocktails high up on the roof of this disused carpark are classics done well. You’ve got to have the eponymous negroni while gazing out across one of the clearest views of London from the south. A live events and visual arts programme runs all summer, and this year to the theme of ‘Love,’ this is one of our favourite London cocktail bars.
The Trendy One: Hacha Dalston
There are only a few small tables outside Hacha, the Dalston bar specialising in tequila and mezcal, so phone ahead and grab one for some of the finest spins on Mexican drinking London’s seen in recent years. This bar which opened in 2019 has quickly become an institution. Try the Mirror Margarita, with Patron Silver Tequila and their own in-house sour mix, the winner of the Cocktail of the Year 2020 at the Class Bar Awards.
The Fun One: Pergola Paddington
With views over north-west London, Pergola Paddington has a handful of different outdoor areas to explore, some with chair swings and others with summer lawn games. We recommend the excellent frozen tequila cocktail, with El Jimador Blanco and Two Keys Pink Grapefruit, or one of the house cocktails, such as the Watermelon Smash, which is pretty, erm, smashable. With Tanqueray, pomegranate, Supasawa, basil and red bull watermelon, it’s a straight-forward hit.
The Classy One: The Terrace at Claridge’s
The opulence of Claridge’s, one of London’s most esteemed hotels, has been brought outside for summer. An intimate terrace near their iconic revolving front doors serves the fine cocktails from the Claridge’s Bar. This summer’s sups not to miss include the Bitter Orange, with Beefeater, Grand Marnier, Campari, Sweet Vermouth and Muyu Vetiver Gris, and their spin on the mojito, the Mojito Royale, with Eminente Riserva, pomelo sherbet, citrus, mint and Laurent-Perrier La Cuvée.
The Centrally-Located One: 12th Knot
If done right, the twelfth floor bar at Sea Containers is one of the best London cocktail bars to enjoy a sup with a riverside view. On Sunday 28 August, the world-leading Lyanness bar on the ground floor of this hotel will serve experimental cocktails to pair with the view. The Lyanness team will create unique cocktails only available on this day as part of the Sunday Lyan x Fever Tree series: a special opportunity to pick the brains of the bartenders behind Lyanness, awarded the World’s Best Bar at the 16th annual Spirited Awards.