The City of London isn't exactly renowned as a place of temperance.
It operates on a 'work hard, play hard' type of mentality, with a watering hole on every street and every corner.
However, being the sophisticated Square Mile reader that you are, your tastes may be a little higher than Wetherspoons and / or Be At One.
(Not that there isn't a place for both in the world – but it's a place you don't occupy all too often.)
We've compiled a list of the best bars in the City of London, breaking it down by all the relevant areas: from Shoreditch to London Bridge to the distant Canary Wharf. (Financial district: still counts.)
Want more detail? Every bar has a link to its bespoke Bar Necessities review, breaking down the vital information from cocktails to cost.
The list will be updated with new entries so watch this space.
Best bars near London Bridge
Situated on the 32nd floor of the Shard, Oblix East offers panoramic views of London, along with delicious small plates and frankly fantastic cocktails. Plus you'll totally feel like James Bond.
The Shard, 31 St Thomas St, SE1 9RY; oblixrestaurant.com
A very beautiful underground cocktail bar, Nine Lives brings a touch of Brooklyn to Bermondsey Street (OK, just off Bermondsey Street). The playlist the only thing cooler than the drinks. Food is supplied by the Tigre Tacos truck outside.
8 Holyrood St, SE1 2EL; ninelivesbar.com
Arabica Bar + Kitchen isn't only about the drinks: it also serves up some of the finest Middle Eastern cuisine in London. There's another site in Kings Cross, if that's more convenient for you.
Borough Market, 3 Rochester Walk, SE1 9AF; arabicalondon.com
Fancy some culture with your cocktails? Tavolino brings Milanese coffee houses and the Trattorias of Florence to London Bridge. If there's a London Mafia they probably eat here. They certainly would if they had any taste.
London Riverside, SE1 2DB; tavolino.co.uk
Best bars near Bank
Since its opening in 2017, the Ned has established itself as one of London's most popular venues in the City – with a private members' club, multiple restaurants and bars, and even a nightclub in the basement. The Nickel Bar in the vast foyer is perhaps the pick of the bunch.
27 Poultry, EC2R 8AJ; thened.com
Sat atop One New Change, rooftop bar Madison London is the closest you'll get to Ibiza without having to leave the City. Expect live music, flowing cocktails and great food. One for the Gram.
One New Change, EC4M 9AF; madisonlondon.net
One for the oenophiles: Tappit Hen is a wine bar built on the site of a famous port merchant so, yes, the place has a fair bit of a pedigree when it comes to the plonk. There's also a Wednesday steak night – and yes, you better go rare.
21-23 St Swithin's Ln, EC4N 8AD; davy.co.uk/wine-bar/tappit-hen/
Oeno House is a new fine wine boutique from wine investment firm Oeno. Take home a bottle from an extensive stock list of more than 700 labels, or enjoy your chosen wine in the charming surrounds of The Royal Exchange. It's a wine bar but not as you know it.
Royal Exchange, EC3V 3LR; Oeno House
Best bars near Liverpool Street
Happy days: The Alchemist has finally brought its unique range of cocktail bars to the City. Expect creative mixes with a touch of the dramatic and plenty of oomph. The drinks menu has to be seen to be believed (and ordered from).
6 Bevis Marks, EC3A 7BA; thealchemist.uk.com
Black Rock Whisky Bar
Since opening in 2016, Black Rock has established itself as one of the finest whisky bars in London. The centrepiece is the hollow tree trunk that carries two rivers of whisky across the room. There are also numerous blends to choose from, all ordered by taste and price, and even cocktails too!
9 Christopher St, EC2A 2BS; blackrock.bar
Discount Suit Company
Discount Suit Company has established itself as a London institution since opening in January 2016. The tiny underground bar is the true definition of timeless in that it could be any hour and any era once you've descended into its depths.
29A Wentworth St, E1 7TB; discountsuitcompany.co.uk
Best Bars near Farringdon
Launched by the team behind the celebrated Nightjar, Oriole has already made the 50 Best Bars in the World list, and won Best New Bar at Tales of the Cocktail festival. The menu is split into three sections – Old World, New World, and The Orient – and every one of the 30-odd cocktails is a work of art. Be sure to book in advance.
E Poultry Ave, Farringdon, EC1A 9LH; oriolebar.com
Clerkenwell stalwart The Gunmakers is technically a pub but the residency of street-food specialists Tigre Tacos ensures fantastic Mexican food and a cocktail list created by Victor Barascu, the head bartender of Nine Lives. That's enough to qualify The Gunmakers for this list.
13 Eyre St Hill, EC1R 5ET; thegunmakers.co.uk
Best Bars near Spitalfields
The Gun is a bar masquerading as a pub but don't be fooled – a bar it most certainly is. It's also something of a City institution, with some version of the Gun existing in Spitalfields for nearly 500 years. The latest incarnation opened in 2019, and probably has more amenities than the Tudor one.
54 Brushfield St, Spitalfields, E1 6AG; thegunlondon.com
Part Parisian bistro, part English Gastropub, part rooftop cocktail bar, The Buxton manages to be master of all trades. You can even stay there overnight if you fancy making a proper evening of it – and why wouldn't you?
42 Osborn St, London E1 6TD; thebuxton.co.uk
Best Bars near Hoxton
Formerly Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen, Colours Hoxton is the sparkling result of an extensive revamp. With a kitchen run by The Orange Buffalo, and a aim to champion queer art and culture, you can be sure of a fun – and, yes, colourful – night whenever you stop by.
2-4 Hoxton Square, Hackney, N1 6NU; colourshoxton.com
Slap bang between Shoreditch and Hoxton but we'll give it to the latter. Gold Step is a tequila and mezcal bar situated in the basement of the ultra-trendy Jaguar Shoes Collective. Taking a date there will bring massive cool points (and a tequila-inspired hangover).
32-36 Kingsland Rd, E2 8DA; jaguarshoes.com
Situated above the equally brilliant Happiness Forgets – both bars are from the same team – Ever After is a winning combination of inventive drinks and delicious food from head chef Joni Ketonen. Head downstairs afterwards for a proper evening out.
8-9 Hoxton Square, N1 6NU; Ever After
Best Bars near Shoreditch
The Green Room at The Curtain
The Green Room is the cocktail bar at the ultra-cool The Curtain – the hotel-cum-members' club that's become one of the area's go-to destinations since it opened in 2017. You needn't be a member of The Curtain to drink at The Green Room but that doesn't mean you shouldn't become one.
45 Curtain Rd, Hackney, EC2A 3PT; thecurtain.com
A lovely, relaxed place of calm amid the madness of Shoreditch. Luigi's is Spelzini Cafe by day before transforming into a bar at night – so you can guiltlessly spend a day there. The Italian bar food is delicious and fantastic value.
154-158 Shoreditch High St, Hackney, E1 6HU; spelzini.co.uk
Best Bars near Tower Hill
Savage Garden is a fun, funky bar with a rooftop that looks over the City – this is definitely one for the summer months. Expect creative cocktails, delicious sharing plates and a buzzy ambience. Do not, however, expect savagery. Or a garden.
Floor 12, 7 Pepys St, EC3N 4AF; savagegarden.co.uk
Best Bars near Canary Wharf
No 35 Mackenzie Walk
Situated on the waterfront, No 35 Mackenzie Walk is a big, bustling bar and restaurant equally suited for summer tipples or Christmas shindigs. There's a private dining room should you want to escape the Muggles, and a non-meat Sunday roast should you want to save the planet.
29-35 Mackenzie Walk, Canary Wharf, E14 4PH; no35mackenziewalk.co.uk