Visiting London at Christmas time is as much about sipping as it is supping or shopping, and with one of the world’s liveliest and most diverse bar scenes, what better excuse to go out and kick up your party-heels? All our selected spots have special themed cocktails, and the imaginative pop-ups are guaranteed to get you in the sparkly spirit.
A Nordic Christmas wonderland of birch trees, sheepskin crannies and marzipan pigs set among a rolling feast of Scandinavian-British cuisine. Complete with boot-shaped glasses of Gluwhein, hot chocolate cocktails and candle-lit dance floors, there are also Late Night Frolic tickets available for £20 and including access to the Yulefest party after the dinner service, plus a cocktail on arrival.
Weekends in December: (Brunch 12pm – 5pm, Dinner 7pm – 1am
1 Kingsland Road, Shoreditch, E2 8AA
The former offices of the Guardian host this Swedish sensation in an incongruous underground bakery. Descend three flights of stairs, ring the bell and you’ll be greeted with a candleabra, handed a glass of mulled wine, a gingerbread man and a tutorial on the Schnapps-powered ballads you will shortly be belting out. To sort your stomach after, there’s an all-you-can-eat Julbord of Swedish starters, mains and deserts. It costs £45 and includes the welcome Glögg and the Smörgåsbord.
Every day until 21st December
The Old Guardian Media House, 119 Farringdon Road, EC1R 3DA
The day-to-night Parlour Bar is a striking choice for whiling away some spare time in Canary Wharf. A cocktail lounge plus DIY mixing table and outdoor bar plus the late licence on weekends keep the knees and spirits up .There’s also an impressive wine and bubbles selection, as well as a creative craft beer selection and tempting bar-snacks to soak up the excess.
40 Canada Square Park,
London E14 5FW
A viking-themed pop-up composed of snuggly yet stylish candle-strewn wooden cabins on the open air top floor of a London skyscraper, Skylounge will be offering you Snow Queen vodka cocktails and wholesome Scandi feasts of vodka-worthy meats, cheese and dark bread cooked over open fires.
Wednesdays – Sundays, 4:30pm – Late
Skylounge, 7 Pepys St, EC3N 4AF
Underground Drinking Club and Auchentoshan whisky are hosting two 2-hour, special seasonal cocktail-mixing masterclasses in the abandoned tunnels of the East End’s Old Street Station. No food or recipes, just good music, strong booze and like-minded people.
22nd & 23rd December
Old Street Station £25
Skylodge is back, and this year is going to involve clambering through a forest, up a beanstalk and recuperating at the giant bean bag bar. Once here you’re rewarded with fairytale-inspired cocktails and cockle-warming munchies, along with a side of live music and late night DJs.
Stage 3, Hackney Empire, 289 Mare St, E8 1EJ
London’s first late night (till 5am if you can) Pisco bar boasts an imaginative cocktail menu, with classics together with homemade creations such as the Piscoffee Creamy – a sweet but potent brew that packs a proper caffeine punch, it’s a milky delight infused with cinnamon for a festive flavour that’s pretty impossible to resist.
176 Upper Street, N1 1RG
Every Friday in December Mr Fogg’s and friends invite you to join them around the ivories for a tinkle and a carol. It’s a very Victorian way to spend an evening and with drinks including warm cider, mulled wine and house cocktails such as the ‘Die Tannenbaum’ – a medley of clove and orange-infused Pampero Especial rum, mixed with apple bandy, cinnamon liqueur, pear puree, lemon juice and agave syrup – how are you going to refuse?
15 Bruton Lane, London, W1J 6JD
Back by popular demand, bespoke après-ski bar Piste returns to Archer Street this year to transport guests from the busy streets of Soho to a beautiful, tongue-in-cheek winter escape. The downstairs bar “Archer Street” becomes a warm and inviting ski lodge, inspired by Scandinavian mountain cabins and Swiss chalets. Reindeer fur, vintage skis, and even a real roaring fire will have you relaxing and transported to the Alps themselves through the custom-designed “windows” with views.
3-4 Archer Street, Soho, London
The Experimental Cocktail Club has earned a reputation as one of the best pseudo-speakeasy bars in London, partly because it’s as hard to find as its cocktails are easy to drink. Owned by the same French entrepreneurs and cocktail enthusiasts who opened three of the hippest bars in Paris over the past couple of years, the ECC is tucked away down a dark street in Chinatown and is perfect for indulging that Christmas desire to hunker down and drink slowly up.
13a Gerard Street, Chinatown, London W1D 5PS
‘The bar with no name’ 69 Colebrooke Row is hidden away from the Upper Street hordes on a backstreet in Islington and is not easy to snag a seat in without booking. The cocktails are all outstanding, such as the Terroir with ‘distilled clay, flint and lichen’ a gently jazz-age vibe imbues the place with calm and sophistication. Sharply-dressed bar staff, black and white checked floor tiles and a pianist belting out swinging standards only add to the general time-warp experience of the place.
69 Colebrooke Row, London
Fascinating and delicious historical drinks, from rum-based cocktails to a liver-watering array of Scotch, are on offer at the beautifully designed Mark’s Bars. The class, quality and choice are complemented by the smoky mirrors, Chesterfield leather armchairs, classic snooker tables and delightful, filling selection of upscale bar snacks.
Various locations across the city
Candlelight, tree stumps for seats, toasting marshmallows, a barbecue grill… and there are drinks too. From steaming cocktails to hot toddies and buttered rum (yes), this rooftop, outside bar will even be serving up Grandma’s Whiskers: eggnog with a whisky twist. Open until the end of March 2015.
Queen of Hoxton rooftop, 1 Curtain Road, EC2A 3JX