Bounce

Bounce Ping Pong HolbornBounce is London’s mecca for all things ping pong, perfect for freeing your inner-Olympian. And while unsportsmanlike conduct is fast and furious here, it remains mostly in jest. This basement art deco-inspired megabar houses 17 ping pong tables, as well as a raised dining area from where you can watch the lacklustre skills of after-work drunks safe from rogue ping pong balls.

Beer is usually the drink of choice for most punters here, but their short cocktail menu is fun and colourful without falling prey to cheesiness. For a clean and lean drink, try the Wiff Waff with Hendrick’s gin, homemade Earl Grey tea syrup and topped with tonic.

This might not be the place for an intimate catch-up, but is ideal for party crews, suits looking to cut loose or table tennis aficionados. Try to book the 2012 London Olympics table where you can get a personal highlights video the day after your game.

Best Bars tip: If you manage to stick around until the wee hours, that’s when the music shifts from radio hits to seriously hip-swivelling tunes (think Stevie Wonder and The Supremes).

— Sasha Filimonov, @SashaSips

bounce bar london ping pong

Experimental Cocktail Club

experimental cocktail club londonIf you’re lucky enough to find the unmarked door to the multi-storey Experimental Cocktail Club, you’re off to a good start. The doorman might tip you off to its location, but don’t feel intimidated – the key here is to play by the rules. Show up early if you don’t have a reservation and look reasonably put together (you needn’t dress like a disco ball, but a step up from pyjamas is a reasonable ask).

That said, the cocktails here are superb, robust and worth the wait on busier nights. While the drinks aren’t quite molecular, they’re perfectly executed. Try La Medicacion, a short tequila cocktail with a mezcal mist which is perfect year-round: refreshing and zesty for the summer yet smoky enough for the winter. If you have a chance, chat with the immaculately dressed bartenders and let them tailor a drink to your personal tastes. Or if you feel like splashing the cash, then test drive their vintage cocktails – the 1950s variation on the Manhattan will set you back a cool £200.

The dimly lit setting oozes Parisian laid-back chic, with ornate ceilings, soft furnishings and exposed brick walls. So just keep that Parisian cool in mind when the service gets a bit spotty.

Best Bars tip: Keep an eye out for any table that crops up, because if you play nice then the hostess might just let you keep it – until the booking arrives.

— Sasha Filimonov, @SashaSips

Experimental Cocktail Club punch bowl

Slim Jim’s Liquor Store

Slim Jim's Liquor Store AngelYou know you’re in for some good ol’ fashioned trouble when you step into a bar and immediately need to peel your shoes off the floor. Slim Jim’s Liquor Store takes you straight into downtown LA, and feels like a 100% authentic brick-walled dive.

Don’t worry too much about the leather jacket-clad gentleman at the door, he’s just a regular. One rule about getting in though: no suits, absolutely NO suits. So throw on your best rock and roll tatters and be ready to whip off your bra for a free drink – check out the impressive lingerie collection hanging from the ceiling.

This is party-time Americana at its best and grungiest. It’s open seven days, always late, with a (sometimes) free jukebox cranking out classic tunes – from BRUUUUUUCE to Joy Division. So let’s get turbo-sh*tfaced on the bountiful bourbons.

Best Bars tip: Happy hour is a rather impressive affair here – between 5-8pm every day (except Saturday) you can get 2-for-1 cocktails, draught beers for £3 and cut-price house spirits. Oh yeah, Pickleback Tuesdays are a must since you can throw back four of those suckers for a tenner.

— Sasha Filimonov, @SashaSips

Slim Jim's Liquor Store Angel

Hawksmoor Spitalfields Bar

hawksmoor spitalfields bar london

This Spitalfields drinking den feels of a different class than some of its flannel-donning brethren in neighbouring Shoreditch, and it’s got your whole night wrapped up in one burnished brass-covered package.

The cocktails are the stars of this underground Hawksmoor show, so don’t expect the famous steaks down here – that’s strictly upstairs business. For those looking to satisfy their sweet urge, try the Nuclear Banana Daiquiri … it’s guilty pleasure defined. Careful though, that overproof rum can knock you sideways. If you’re of the classics persuasion, test drive the Full Fat Old Fashioned – think Don Draper, with a bigger waistline.

You won’t struggle to line your stomach here, with menu highlights like the Pig’s Head Poutine (a Canadian delicacy … or cheese fries, as some may call them), the Ox Cheek French Dip, and the finger-licking Seoul Ribs for a fiver, which are a must.

Best Bars tip: Desert Island Drinks launch the first Tuesday of every month, and you can get any one of them with a sandwich for £15.

— Sasha Filimonov, @SashaSips

Hawksmoor Spitalfields Bar London