We're not talking Fat Sam, here (that said, wouldn't you ever love to set a splurge gun on those spiky hairdos who push in front of you at the bar?)... n'no, we're talking a new wave of speakeasy-inspired venues which currently has London in its thrall.
Speakeasies came into being in 1920's Prohibition America and were haunts where citizens sneakily partook of the odd illegal tipple.
Skip forward to modern day London and you'll find achingly cool venues serving up teacups brimming with gin, suave jazz musicians and a glitzy, retro dress code.
Any body who is anybody,
Will soon walk through that door...
At Fat Sam's Grand Slam Speakeasy.
65 Rivington Street EC2A 3AYRegion:
The CityNearest Station:
Bethnal Green (0.1 miles)
The separate bar at Callooh Callay truly delivers in conceptual speakeasy style. A guest barman or connoisseur takes charge every month and concocts a menu to inspire the crowd of members. Membership is free; you just have to prove yourself a discerning drinker first.
129 City Road EC1V
Hidden amongst an array of typical London shop fronts is the Nightjar. A cocktail bar first, speakeasy second, it’s a surprise there’s any room for anybody here such are the levels of style that ooze from every facet. If you’re looking to impress someone, this is the place.
8 - 9 Hoxton Square N1 6NURegion:
Hoxton (0.2 miles)
Just being hidden away below street level doesn’t qualify you for ‘speakeasy’ status, but candlelights, hushed atmospheres, blood red walls and great cocktails do. Happiness Forgets is the Hoxton Square hangout that gets all the punters begging for more. As careful with the bar's soundtrack as they are with the cocktails.
- OUR REVIEW 7/10
- USERS 8/10
Drink Shop & Do
9 Caledonian Road Islington N1 9DXRegion:
King's Cross St. Pancras
Look beyond the shop and the goodies that fill it up and make your way to the seating section where you’ll be served cocktails to your hearts content – having offered up payment first, of course. It may not be a speakeasy in anything like the true sense, but its fun and whoever thought of putting a bar in the middle of a shop?
Experimental Cocktail Club
13A Gerrard Street W1D 6HBRegion:
China TownNearest Station:
Piccadilly Circus (0.1 miles)
Book ahead to avoid disappointment at what is surely one of London’s most ‘authentic’ speaks. The Experimental Cocktail Club is a dazzling mixture of hidden doorways and antique chic, wrapped up with an atmosphere that puts you someway back to the swinging Twenties. For the barman, cocktails are a serious business, and it shows.
Zero Aldwych WC2E 7DNRegion:
Covent GardenNearest Station:
Temple (0.2 miles)
How do you know it’s there? Easy, follow the arrow at street level that points downwards like bright neon love. The sultry basement presents seedy drag, burlesque and lounge acts that give you that feeling of being up to no good.
Bourne & Hollingsworth
28 Rathbone Place W1T 1JFRegion:
Tottenham Court Road (0.1 miles)
Fitzrovia sits well with the whole speakeasy revival for some reason. Perhaps it’s the plethora of basements that look so enticing in the way their hand railed steps lead downwards. Bourne and Hollingsworth is at the bottom of one of these flights of concrete and when you find it you’ll thank the stars. On first look it boasts style and refinement, but look a little closer and there’s an amazing worn in appeal to it all. Take a gin cocktail in a teacup and enjoy the spirit.
- OUR REVIEW 8/10
- USERS 8/10
Ruby's Basement Bar
76 Stoke Newington Road N16 7XBRegion:
Dalston Kingsland (0.3 miles)
Vintage milk bottles as drinking vessels, candlelight, and quiet music to encourage conversation - what more could you want from a speakeasy style bar? Ruby’s makes a killer blueberry mojito, that’s all you need to know.
The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town
12-16 Artillery Lane E1 7LSRegion:
Liverpool Street (0.1 miles)
It’s gaudy and ever so slightly tacky, but how can you help but love entering the Mayor of Scaredy Cat through its Smeg Fridge entrance? The atmosphere here is less hushed back alley and more basement club at times, but the cocktails are spot on the money.