Down South has gone north, with the latest outpost of Joe’s Southern Kitchen opening in Kentish Town – fully kitted out with all its signature trimmings, nibbles and tipples.
Head downstairs to Jailbird for the basement bar experience, and don’t worry, they won’t lock you in (plus the food is a million notches above prison swill). Notable faves on the menu include the mac and cheese, the crispy chips and saucy wings. This is messy business, so keep plenty of serviettes to hand and maybe leave the white shirt at home.
To drink, there’s a lot of bourbon and American whiskey on the menu, unsurprisingly, so we say stick to the theme. If you’re in the mood for something stirred down and brown then order The Assasin with Rittenhouse Rye, Chambord, Noilly Prat and Campari served up with a lemon peel. And for £12, you can have this drink plus six fried wings. *We lurve a good deal … particularly the £5 signature cocktails that are ALWAYS a fiver. Sorted.
Best Bars tip: Book yourself one of the booths, and settle in for a one-stop shop kind of night.
Set on one of Haggerston’s quiet residential streets is a London food-and-drink gem that you absolutely must not miss. The ever-so-slightly quirky signage outside might flag that The Richmond ain’t your average neighbourhood boozer. A simple clean interior with red walls and well chosen artwork makes it inviting, casual and on the right side of refined. And while we like the design, it’s the food and drink that will keep us coming here again and again.
As we said, the menus here are sensational. To eat, we started off with the raw bar (a must) and topped our oysters with a zesty spicy sauce that we would love to take with us to every shellfish haunt the world over. We then moved on to hotter items such as the chargrilled octopus which was hands down the BEST octopus we’ve ever tasted. Perfectly charred on the outside and still lovely and tender in. Plus the healthy dollop of aioli didn’t go remiss either. And don’t leave without getting the banana tart (remarkably soft and with a delicate sweetness that’s outrageously sumptuous) as well as the apple beignets that come with caramelised apples and ricotta sorbet. We have a real soft spot for anything resembling apple pie.
And now on to the drinks — well it’s no surprise here that there is just as much care and attention given to the liquid refreshments as to the solids. The bar manager here has an impressive CV having worked for the likes of HIX and Dishoom so now he is bringing his sophisticated touch to a short list of cocktails that seem both accessible and refined all at once. For a long and frothy option, try The Richmond Fizz with Beefeater gin, fresh lime, Pedrino and egg white. If you’re keen for something stirred down and brown, try Madame Maury with Diplomatico reserva exclusiva, Maury, sugar and bitters.
Best Bars tip: Come hungry. Leave happy. And definitely swing by for the happy hour: £1 oysters from 6-7pm on weekdays and 5-6pm on Saturdays. Unmissable.
There’s a new kid in Farringdon and it’s one that’s a bit cool but with a secret obsession for sciency things. Meet Barsmith, where the young professional crowd sips on cocktails made with house-infused spirits – mustard vodka anyone?
Cocktails aren’t all that extreme though – there’s a lot of more typical flavour associations like passionfruit-infused vodka, or rum infused with ginger and honey. The latter is used in the bar’s self-titled serve, an easy drinking spicy fizz with added lychee, lime, mint and ginger beer. For some real heat though, it’s Hot Stuff Baby: citrus-infused vodka with carrot juice and egg white, plus plenty of stem ginger and chilli. If you’re more into beer or wine, both sections of the menu include really useful charts, with bitterness and flavour scales. Stand at the bar for a while to see the pizzaiolos at work; we’re sure you won’t be able to resist long before ordering a ‘nduja pizza – they can even be made gluten free. There’s some cheese and cured meats too if you just want to nibble, and sweet stuff courtesy of Crosstown Doughnuts.
Not convinced yet? You should – the place is relaxed, helped by the large space that makes for easy casual conversation during the week, and makes way for DJ-led nights on the weekend. The perfect place to get a party started …
Best Bars tip: Barsmith’s happy hour is sort of unbelievable, with two-for-one cocktails between 8pm and 10pm on weekdays, and all day Saturday. Yes, all day.
It’s not always about sitting down for a sophisticated cocktail. Sometimes you just want to cut loose, drink shots and party down until the sun comes up. Here are the UK’s BEST bars for debauchery. Now whatever mischief you get yourselves into, it ain’t our fault … enjoy!
It might be one of London’s teeniest charms, but what Casita lacks in square footage it makes up for in personality. This is the kind of bar you pop into for a quick one and then end up cancelling all of your plans (happily so).
Live piano music, sing-a-long throwback tunes, crazy-looking cocktails and some of the happiest party people in town. If you’re not feeling up to it, nip down here and they’ll turn that frown upside down — guaranteed.
With blackboard walls, plenty of chalk, and an easygoing crowd bopping about to garage rock — don’t be surprised at the more adult content drawn up on the walls. You can even have a go at one-upping them yourself. And remember, downstairs is for dancing. End of.
You 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. 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. And we should probably tell you, if you give them your bra, they’ll give you a free drink. Now the decision is yours.
East London hipsters are a given, but those fond of a tipple – or twelve – come in by the bus-load after 3pm. Music-lovers are also in luck, as it often holds free events showcasing upcoming talent – from acoustic guitarists to spinning DJs.
The 70s basement décoris cheeky and cheerful, much like their staff and drinks. So when you’re looking to cut loose, there’s little better than this ode to Polynesia/Tiki-Americana, kitted out with (un)ironic shag carpets and Tretchikoff prints.
This cheeky spot is where Edinburgh comes to play. Garibaldi’s is a colourful Mexican-themed institution, beloved by all, boozed in by all, pole danced in by all. It’s late-night partying seven days a week, and it’s impossible not to shed your inhibitions here … the tequila shooters will make sure of that.
One tequila, two tequila, three tequila … and then it all gets a bit hazy, but we’re told Neon Cactus is home to well over 70 types of this beautiful spirit. The vibrant-themed joint not only specialises in Mexico’s infamous liquor but also brings the nation’s love for traditional street food, upbeat vibes and late-night partying to Leeds’ Call Lane.
Oporto is a must-visit for music lovers and late night revellers. This Leeds rock bar certainly lives up to its slogan/hazard warning of “Go Hard or Go Home”. Prepare yourself: you’re in for a night of heavy music, all night partying and shots, lots and lots of shots.
So Tiki it hurts, Aloha’s Polynesian carvings, colourful flowery wallpaper and bars set in wooden shacks transport guests to tropical climes where rum is king and Piña Coladas are served in fresh pineapples. This large basement bar attracts a fun crowd who are keen to dance in the packed room to classic songs and cheesy numbers.
A bright and flaming Tiki den, The Liars Club is all about having a real good raucous time. From cheeky flaring tricks from the bartenders to bangin’ reggae tunes to bamboo huts – you’d struggle not to cut loose down here.
Tucked below a discreet set of stairs just off the Leicester Square, a treat awaits you: the buzzy, party-loving Covent Garden Cocktail Club. Now technically this is a members’ only joint, but anyone can get a membership — just sign up here. And once you’re in, you can expect all of the qualities that make its brethren LCC venues so irresistible.
Drinking here is about frills and fun, so don’t be shy. Get the night started with a Won Ton Bomb: a Jagerbomb gone wrong. Red Bull jelly in a soup spoon served with chilled Jagermeister and a touch of tobasco. Wowza. Standing up at the bar watching the flaring masters at work should take your party mood up to eleven. And then get a bit cheeky and have an Optic Old Fashioned. A Woodford Reserve bourbon sipper that’s served in a flask. Classy, ay? If you need it, bar bites such as nuts and pizza are available.
Come at the right time and you’ll be serenaded with some lively piano playing. But this isn’t the stiff key tapping of five-star hotels, this is a seamless foray into sing-a-long tunes — and we love it.
Best Bars tip: Swing by on Monday for the ALL NIGHT happy hour, or come Tuesday-Saturday between 4:30pm-7pm for 2-for-1 tipples.
Located in a corner of Brunswick, this Hove establishment stands out from the crowd of high street chains and local shops with its striking Grade-II listed exterior. Trust us, Freemasons Tavern is stunning: picture a tiled mosaic front and two storeys of art deco windows and imposing glass doors. 1930s heaven.
Inside, this splendor isn’t quite echoed, except for the bar, which has a gold tiled ceiling. Instead you’re greeted with the kind of interior that wouldn’t look out of place in a more modern joint: exposed brick walls, tables and benches made of reclaimed wood and a variety of art – mostly of pop culture icons – all feature here.
The bar’s biggest draw is its affordability: a bottle of house wine costs under £12, while a classic cocktail is £6.50. In terms of food, expect to find pub grub staples such as burgers, fish & chips and roast dinners on a Sunday.
Best Bars tip: This laid-back spot is the perfect place for hanging out with friends away from much busier, louder establishments. It also stays open until 1am on a week night and 2am on Fridays and Saturdays. That’s a lot of time for catching up.
From neatly trimmed numbers to caveman stylings, London is awash in all things beard. So even though Movember is all about the ‘stache, here’s our round up of the best bars to check out some chins. *And they’re all great boozers too.*
This east London pub houses hundreds of Shoreditch revellers every weekend — naturally, they’re often a bearded bunch. This good-natured gargantuan haunt has something for everyone: pool tables, a beer garden, a screening room and sexy Sunday roasts.
A trip to the wonderfully hip (yet ever-so-charming) Broadway Market isn’t complete without ducking into this maze-like pub. Whether you’re into pilsners, guezes or trappists, you’ll be spoilt for choice by a tome-like drinks list.
This Irish whiskey-loving den on Bethnal Green Road is introducing you to Ireland’s version of moonshine: poitín … and well, it’s bloody brilliant. Don’t have a beard? Don’t worry. A few drinks here should sprout some hairs on that chin.