The Best Bars in the City and East London

London’s Best Bars According to the London Lifestyle Awards

We’re chuffed to announce that Pall Mall Barbers is in this year’s running for the London Lifestyle Awards Hair Salon of the year! We’re in good company – the list features some of the capitol’s best bars, restaurants and cultural attractions. You can check out the shortlist and cast your vote here until October 14th. In the meantime, here’s our take on the nominees for the best bar award, looking at the best bars in the City and East London.

Callooh Callay

65 Rivington Street, EC2A
Nearest Tube: Old Street

Callooh Callay has been serving up cocktails in Shoreditch before it was even cool to serve up cocktails in Shoreditch – and probably even before beards were a thing, if such a time ever existed. There are technically three rooms to the quirkily-named establishment, but you’ll have to crawl through a wardrobe to reach the Back Lounge (and the Jubjub Bar is by invitation only after 10pm). If you’re not lucky enough to be on the guestlist, you can always tune in to Callooh Radio: the bar’s cooler-than-though playlists are all helpfully available on Spotify.

Discount Suit Company

29a Wentworth Street, E1
Nearest Tube: Aldgate East

You won’t have to search for the hidden entrance to the Discount Suit Company, or squeeze through the back of a wardrobe to get in. All you have to do is look for the giant letters on the side of the building when you turn onto Wentworth Street. The brief menu follows the “stick to what you do best” ethos of recent bar and restaurant openings. There’s a thoughtful list of ten cocktails and only four wines on offer – red, white, sparkling and champagne. The food menu is similarly concise – cheese lovers are catered for with a platter from Neal’s Yard or you can stick to Nocellara olives and mixed nuts.

Madison

1 New Change, EC4M
Nearest Tube: St. Pauls

Go for the view of St. Paul’s, stay for the Josper Grill. This £15,000 chef’s toy functions primarily as a grill, but the secret’s in its oven door, which locks in the moisture of whatever you throw inside it so it loses none of its natural flavour. Unsurprisingly, the menu at Madison, one of the best bars in the City and East London, is a carnivore’s delight, with beef and burgers featuring heavily. There is a cocktail menu, but the focus here is mainly on wine and an impressive champagne list. The roof terrace is equipped with heaters and umbrellas, so you don’t have to wait for our two days of summer to soak up the view.

McQueen Shoreditch

55-61 Tabernacle Street, EC2A
Nearest Tube: Old Street

McQueen takes its name from the late film star Steve McQueen, channelling this icon of hyper-masculine cool into what looks like the most stylish bachelor pad in the world (think Don Draper rather than Glenn Quagmire). You can choose from a cocktail menu packed with chest-thumping concoctions like “Steel Hour” and “The War Lover” or you can splash out on a bottle of Hennessy if you just got paid. At the weekends, you’ll find some of the world’s top DJs in residence at the club in the basement.

Oriole

Smithfield Market, EC1A
Nearest Tube: Farringdon

The dining room at Oriole could be easily mistaken for a lost wing of the British Museum, if not for the glittering rows of bottles taking centre stage at the bar. Wooden masks and exotic artefacts dot the walls, and the menu is equally global in its scope – flavours from Italy, India and the Far East are all represented here. Oriole’s big selling point though is its live music, with an eclectic line-up of world musicians taking the stage each night after 9pm. Be warned – if you’re not planning to stay for the entertainment, you might want to head off by then. A “music surcharge” is added to the bill of those who linger.

the best bars in the city and east london

The Cocktail Trading Co. Brick Lane

68 Bethnal Green Road, E1
Nearest Station: Shoreditch High Street

If you’ve ever worked in the hospitality industry, you’ll know it can be a hard slog with often anti-social hours. The three bartenders behind The Cocktail Trading Company aim to do things differently. The company is run as a cooperative, providing fair wages and perks such as healthcare and reasonable hours to staff. Not only that, but they give preference to suppliers who share their ethos of making the drinks industry a long-term career option. The menu of house specials are paired with the stories that inspired them, which would be a bit saccharine if not done with such good humour. There’s probably nowhere else in London you can raise a glass to Sisyphus, the Greek king condemned by the gods to push a boulder up a mountain for all of eternity. Not only one of the best bars in the City and East London, but one of the fairest too.

The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town

12-16 Artillery Lane, E1
Nearest Tube: Liverpool Street

If you’re a fan of the 80’s sitcom Cheers, you might recognise this bizarrely-named establishment as the title of an episode. The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town is actually one of three “Dirty Little Secret” bars, each accessed via a branch of The Breakfast Club. Entrance to the dimly lit drinking den is via an enormous Smeg fridge door (because secret bookcases are apparently passé). Once you’re in and occupying a bar stool, you can choose from a list of cocktails with names like “One Armed Bandit” and “The Bold and the Beautiful” which are helpfully labelled with descriptors such as “floral”, “sweet” and “sharp” to help you navigate. For soaking it all up, there’s a short menu with American dive bar mainstays like buffalo wings and deep-fried pickles. We also feel like mentioning that it’s about a five-minute walk away from Pall Mall Barbers Bishopsgate – no reason.

The Nightjar

129 City Road, EC1V
Nearest Tube: Old Street

The Nightjar is actually more of a live music venue that happens to have a really good cocktail menu. This is the place to go if you’re looking for something a bit off the beaten track – there are almost nightly performances from jazz, blues and folk artists from around the world. Pleasingly, the nights are occasionally sponsored by bourbon companies – meaning half price drinks made with the American South’s favourite tipple.

What do you make of the lineup of the best bars in the City and East London? Are your favourites missing? Don’t forget to cast your vote here for your favourite bar and of course, your favourite barber!

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