This Square Mile of ours is pretty cool – but some of the seriously subzero spots aren’t always in plain sight, as City of London basement bars will attest.
From stunning architecture and sky scraping towers that make up one of the world’s most iconic skylines, there is plenty to turn heads and capture the imagination in the capital.
But behind closed doors (sometimes only unlocked by a special password) there are concoctions being crafted with your name on them.
So, if Negronis, Old Fashioneds and smoother than old jazz speakeasy basement bars are your vibe, be sure to check out our wicked list of City of London basement bars.
Demon Wise and Partners
Only open Monday to Friday, this weekday bar keeps things simple with classic cocktails and seating-only spaces underneath the Arbitrager. Get the perfect amaretto sour or branch out to their speciality cocktails, which they’ll only make 100 times before swapping over to something new. Let this become your local ‘treat yo’ self’ spot in the City.
27a Throgmorton Street EC2N 2AN
Discount Suit Company
Love your hidden bars with plenty of extra quirk? Then Discount Suit Company is tailor made for you, my friend. Nope, this isn’t a misprint (sorry if you thought you’d stumbled on a place to pick up your next three-piece). Measures are being taken here, but they are very much of the consumable variety, all within the confines of a former suit tailor’s store. Discount Suit Company offers classically inspired cocktails served to a soundtrack of northern soul and vintage rock ‘n’ roll, and there’s even an opportunity to browse their supply to take home with you. Mint.
29a Wentworth Street E1 7TB
Do Not Disturb
Tucked beneath the Vintry and Mercer Hotel, this hidden basement bar, opening in February 2019, will be all about retro glamour. The velvet covered furniture, art deco features, and hand-beaded images of Ziegfeld Follies girls are all intended to whisk you away to the Prohibition era. From Monday to Saturday, those who can find the bar should slink into one of the leather booths, grab a few decadent cocktails and let the speakeasy vibes takeover.
20 Garlick Hill EC4V 2AU
This old school gin and rum bar makes finding the perfect drink a whole lot easier. They can make almost infinite interpretations of classic cocktails with their 350-something different kinds of Mother’s Ruin and Demon Water. Simply choose from some of their tasting notes, chat with the bartender about what you’re into, order some fresh oysters, and let them do the rest. They even have the smallest bar in London tucked away in another room which can be hired for small groups – this one’s for those who want a highly personalised drinking session in the City.
13 Well Court EC4M 9DN
You wouldn’t fast refer to Aldgate as the Wild West, but there is a certainly something resembling a gold rush to be had when it comes to getting a seat at the Moonshine Saloon. As the name suggests, this nod to the days of cowboys and stirrups encourages you to embrace your inner outlaw. From the swinging saloon doors to the wanted posters on the wall, this bar isn’t pulling any punches with its commitment to its theme or impressive drinks menu. Ten gallon hats aren’t expressly recommended, but you won’t be turned away for rocking one.
28-30 Houndsditch EC3A 7DB
Set right in the thick of things in Shoreditch, Nightjar is far from a secret spot these days. Everyone heads down here to listen to the brilliant blues, jazz and soul bands before tucking into great cocktails. They do some fairly experimental drinks but we recommend any Bloody Mary aficionado to try their take – the recipe of which is kept close to their chest.
129 City Road, Hoxton EC1V 1JB
They say it’s a jungle out there, and in the case of ultra slick underground cocktail bar Oriole, it kind of is. This subterranean spot is equipped with explorer-style decor and live music, and can certainly be classified as lively, turning every excursion into a bit of a wild adventure. A veritable oasis beneath the City’s concrete jungle above, the mixed bevs are as flamboyant as the decor and entertainers. Consider this a stupendous way to inject some life into your after-hours escapades. The only challenge will be saying farewell at the end of a cracking night.
East Poultry Avenue EC1A 9LH
Grab you best dapper clobber and hit up The Bootlegger for a toe-taping good time. We love this place, not least because their website displays co-ordinates on where to find them, and not much else. Settle in for live tunes, and more mixed drinks than you can shake a, well, shaker at. Shall we have another?
25-26 Lime Street EC3M 7HR
This one is a proper trip through time – if you can actually find the joint. The secret cocktail bar, tucked away beneath the floorboards of a barber’s, can quench any thirst for all things 1920s. Great cocktails come as standard for the mix, complimented by whipping tunes and that unmistakable roar of the era. Catch you there.
141-142 Fenchurch St, London EC3M 6BL
The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town
This one is touted as not being for all the cool cats in Shoreditch, boasting more relaxed and fun vibes. It’s also one of the lesser known spaces, properly hidden within The Breakfast Club on Artillery Lane, through the Smeg fridge in the back. Ask for the Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town and be invited to stay for a few cheeky drinks or even their bottomless brunch on weekends.
12-16 Artillery Lane E1 7LS
This by-appointment-only drinking den is set within an old Turkish Bath from the Victorian era and boasts a super luxe interior for intimate dates or larger work parties. You can only book a table on Fridays from 5pm so get in there well in advance. Check out their extensive cocktail and wine list downstairs or their more hearty dining options up above if you get hungry after a few cheeky end of the week drinks. Exclusive and oh so luxe. Check it out soon.
7-8 Bishopsgate EC2M 3TJ
WM Barker and Co
Follow the blue neon ‘WM Barker & Co’ sign downstairs to find their upbeat drinking den. Grab some of their 2-for-1 cocktails and order one of the toasties before settling in for a fun night out. And those of you who don’t want the hard liquor cocktails can tuck into their large list of craft beers and organic wines. They’re crowdpleasers WM Barker and Co, having a little something for everyone. Our best advice is not to mix it up too much, though.
202 Bishopsgate EC2M 4NR
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