The Drawing Room

The Drawing Room BFI SouthbankThe BFI is a bit of a maze, with things to discover on all floors – cinemas, exhibitions, but bars too. Entering from the riverside, you’ll have to adventure yourself deep inside the building to find yourself in The Drawing Room, a small and cosy cocktail bar attached to Benugo, where the library décor sees conversation and drinks flowing.

It’s got a bit of that classic London vibe to it, so the menu’s got a welcome focus on bubbles and Martinis, with well-executed drinks with just a touch of inventiveness to surprise Southbank tourists and entice boozers. The Quince and Vanilla Bean Margarita combines powerful and tangy flavours for something very moreish, while the Elderflower and Violet Blossom is a simple and delicate pleaser. There’s a few draughts and plenty of wine to pick from too.

It’s really the atmosphere that makes this worth the visit though. Set a bit away from the BFI, it’s calmer and quieter, and the ceiling-high bookshelves filled with quirky old books and old-school posters on the walls make this perfect for a date night, or a long conversation about noir films with your dad over a whisky. You get the picture…

Best Bars tip: There are a few nibbles to try too – try the empanadas platter!

— Gaëlle Laforest, @gaellelaforest

The Drawing Room BFI Southbank


Cecil's bar BermondseyIn a normal world, abandoned-looking industrial buildings tucked away behind railway arches are best avoided – expect of course if you’re in London, in which case chances are you’ve found a genial cocktail bar. It’s the case for Cecil’s, a gem of a drinking den that truly asks for some commitment to be found: a dark alley and grim looking stairs lead to a large, dim room where time is well spent.

The drinks list is really quite eclectic, with some interesting work on serving categories: choose from punches, highballs, large pots to share, or small pick-me-ups – elaborate shots. Keep it local with a Borough Citrus Punch — beautifully refreshing and dry. Or go bold with the whole Tinker Tailor Soldier Sailor set of shots, which combine different spirits with liqueurs and juices.

The place looks like an Asian-inspired Prohibition bar, perhaps a touch confusing but it really works: Chinese lanterns and small plates of dumplings mix with evenings of live blues and swing dancing. There’s really nothing not to love.

Best Bars tip: Saturday nights are Uff Tea nights – an immersive 1930s Shanghai experience with live jazz, extravagant glamour and of course, great drinks.

— Gaëlle Laforest, @gaellelaforest

Cecil's bar Bermondsey live music

BB Picks: Blues, Bubbly & Bots

The Blues Brothers

POND Dalston SPAM nights

Spam, Sushi & Snackeries at POND Dalston
Every Monday and Tuesday. From 5pm.
Not everyone gets the Monday blues because for those who work in the hospitality industry, Monday night is FRIDAY night. And to show a bit of appreciation for all your hard work, POND is offering special treats every Monday and Tuesday. Expect £2 tequilas, £5 sushi (8 pieces), £4 daily slushie cocktails and £1 snackeries. These boozy bargains are too good to miss.

Kettner's Soho

Gin, Fizz and Jazz at Kettner’s Champagne and Cocktail Bar
Every Tuesday from 7pm in the bar. Free entry.
Gin, Fizz and Jazz Nights on Tuesdays see an evening full of live tunes and £6 gin cocktails. Expect hot jazz and blues, and giggles from their favourite drag artists. Where the hell else should you be?

Drink SHop and Do Lego Robots

Lego Robots at Drink, Shop & Do
Wednesday 1 October. Free from 7pm.

So you’ve seen The Lego Movie, heard about the Art of the Brick exhibit at Old Truman Brewery, but still haven’t managed to get your hands on those irresistible plastic stacking blocks. NO MORE! Now you can create your very own Lego robot and the only rules are that it must have at least two limbs, you must give it a name and a special ability. Oh, and please don’t chew the Lego.

The Blues Brothers Special at The Blues Kitchen — Shoreditch
Friday 3 October. Free before 9:30pm, £5 after. Free entry in fancy dress all night.
If you can’t get enough of that funky duo, then pay tribute with a whole night dedicated to those Ray Ban-wearing hip cats. From an Illinois County Jail photobooth, full-on fancy dress, Mr. Fabulous cocktails and a live set from the resident musicians and DJs until 2am. “It’s a hundred and six miles to Chicago, we’ve got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark, and we’re wearing sunglasses.” Don’t worry — you’ll never get caught, you’re on a mission from God.

Scarfes Bar Cabaret

Cabaret at Scarfes Bar
Sunday 5 October. Doors open at 7pm. Single ticket £32.40.
The Cabaret evenings will be held bi-weekly and this is the first night on. Hosted by Dusty Limits, who is at the forefront of the “new Cabaret” scene, he’s “the compere without compare”. Expect bursting glamour and a heady cocktail of music, dance, acrobatics, singing and close-up magic.

— Sasha Filimonov, @SashaSips

Brilliant Corners

Brilliant Corners Dalston Miguel Echeverria
Miguel Echeverria

Sitting on Dalston’s Kingsland Road, Brilliant Corners is a top jazz spot and watering hole for the Hackney hipster.

Specialising in top-notch natural wines, spirits and Japanese food, the funky bar welcomes a young, cultured crowd that heads down to listen to DJs spinning vinyl on a breeze block DJ booth. Tuck into a soft-shell crab roll or wasabi salmon salad, which might be washed down with a sake, mezcal or glass of wine from off the beaten track, such as a crisp white from Etna in Sicily.

Turn on, tune in and drop out.

Best Bars tip: Unsure what wine to order? Put yourself in the hands of owner Amit Patel, who certainly knows his onions.

— Laura Foster

Brilliant Corners Dalston sushi

The Mesmerist

The Mesmerist BrightonOkay, we’ve said it a few times but The Mesmerist truly is one of the very best in Brighton. If you’re looking for somewhere unusual, yet fun and affordable to take friends from out of town, then this is the place to head for some boozy late-night action.

First up, let’s talk décor. Given that the bar’s inspired by gin palaces of yore, as well as steampunk and burlesque movements, you can picture the charming collision of curiosities: luggage cases, skulls, antlers, a knight’s armor and Grecian statues are all scattered among chesterfield sofas. It’s a hoarder’s dream home.

The downstairs bar serves up an awesome range of cocktails that spans from the classics to homemade concoctions – we say try one of the Ginger Brews, which comes which its own ginger biscuit. Yum. What’s best, though, is that many of the cocktails are only a fiver. A bargain if we ever saw one.

Best Bars tip: Friday’s are the best. Begin the evening by swigging Kraken rum and ginger in one of the darkened booths upstairs before ending up on the dancefloor downstairs once the jazz is in full swing at its Shake Holla and Roll club night. Its black and white photo booth will help you to remember the fun you had when you surface the next morning.

— Heather Steele, @steeleheather

The Mesmerist Brighton

Scarfes Bar at the Rosewood London

Scarfes Bar at Rosewood London interiorHolborn’s reimagined Rosewood Hotel is home to Scarfes Bar, a classy joint unafraid to break from hotel bar tradition.

Many of the drinks are ambitiously British, particularly Thyme Out, a cocktail served in a transparent teapot with herbaceous aroma, a gin base and a pretty sprig of lavender. Bubbly elderflower foam sits on top of the Seine River Fizz, a sprightly mix of ginger liqueur, Grey Goose and lime. Dill and smoked salmon pâté is a classic, while moist chicken tikka sticks served with smoked paprika raita spice things up.

Antique furniture is sourced from around the world, but the comfort factor is never forgotten. With live piano music, a roaring fire and service just as warm from international staff, Scarfes Bar is a very plush home away from home.

Best Bars tip: Plan a nightcap – the drinks list has a “Distillery” section filled with world-class whisky, gin and vodka.      

— Laura Richards, @Lala_Richards

Scarfes Bar at Rosewood London

69 Colebrooke Row

69 Colebrooke Row 2012 - inside view 3

If you’re in the mood for a mysterious tipple, then head to the Bar With No Name … or as it’s better known, 69 Colebrooke Row. Courtesy of cocktail maestro Tony Conigliaro and his lab (a.k.a. the Drink Factory), this cosy hidden bar is constantly breaking ground with its innovative creations.

So while you’re here, why not broaden your boozing horizons? Order the Terroir and let the lab coat-wearing bartenders introduce you to this unique beverage. The vodka cocktail, which has been distilled in clay, flint and lichen, has wine-like depth and flavour. It’s a number that is earthy, mineral and utterly delicious. Don’t miss out on the Prairie Oyster — it’s an explosion of perfect savoury taste in one simple slurp.

This tiny cocktail haven throws up some serious live jazz on Sundays, but if you want to get into the New York speakeasy spirit then remember to book ahead.

Best Bars tip: Looking to learn from the masters themselves? Sign up to one of 69 Colebrooke Row’s cocktail masterclasses … from Mad Men to rum, it has all the themes you’d want to hit (you may even get a tour of Tony C’s laboratory upstairs).

— Sasha Filimonov, @SashaSips

69 colebrooke row cocktail bar london