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Written by Mae Bristow - 07 November 2023

Our selection of the best Dalston bars

There are possibly as many stereotypes for Dalston as there are for nearby Hackney, but we’re not here to run through a tired list of stereotypes and tropes. Say what you will, Dalston is always good for a late night out.

We’d be lying if we said that we didn’t end up in Dalston every time we’ve been out anywhere even remotely east, and wanted one more drink (read: several more drinks). And it’s our go-to when we want to hit a dance floor.

We’ve put together a list of some of our favourite places, from cocktail bars to dive bars to dance bars. The list is not exhaustive, but we’ve got to start somewhere.

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interior of the three compasses in dalston london
people in the three compasses in dalston london

1. Discover your true north (it’s in the pub): The Three Compasses

Dalston, London

There are three pubs by this name in London, so please ensure it’s the Dalston bar you visit, otherwise you will be sorely disappointed when, upon arrival, you find that you cannot order the best burger in the East End. Yeah, we said it. Fight us.

It isn’t much of a looker on the outside, but inside, The Three Compasses is a traditional East End boozer. Wine-red walls decked out in old Guinness posters, sticky wooden floors, and round wooden tables and stools – if you haven’t already been, all we can say is, trust us. It’s our job to know all the best spots in town.

The craft beers and cocktails, the DJ nights, the Filthy Buns burgers, pub quiz, and drag bingo – it has everything you come to Dalston for minus a dance floor, but the covered terrace and burgers more than make up for it.

brillant corners private hire in dalston in london
brillant corners in dalston in london

2. The Japanese restaurant-cum-cocktail bar: Brilliant Corners

Dalston, London

In Dalston, a Japanese restaurant is not simply a restaurant. It has to be a cocktail bar and hotspot for DJ sessions on a class audiophile system. It’s the place where eclectic DJ sets aren't played ridiculously loud because they're played on a quality system.

Located on Kingsland Road, this Dalston bar and restaurant is open on the inside yet still manages to feel intimate and chill with dim mood lighting, celestial lanterns overhead, and mid-century minimalist decor complemented by colourful graphic art prints.

The menu offers high-quality Japanese small plates in keeping with an izakaya (Japanese bar) vibe. We have two recommendations for you. First, you absolutely must book. Second, order the Miso Highball. Go for the food and Japanese whisky, and stay for the music.

interior of the shacklewell arms in dalston in london
people in the shacklewell arms in dalston in london

3. A Dalston institution: The Shacklewell Arms

Dalston, London

A list of the best Dalston bars wouldn’t be complete without the Shacklewell Arms. Not much of a looker on the outside – and definitely dive-y on the inside with its many layers of paint and collage of band posters – this old East End boozer is in its live music venue era.

With gigs seven nights a week and late opens on Fridays and Saturdays, the Shacklewell Arms is always packed wall to wall, spilling out into its dingy fairy-lit smoking terrace. Surprisingly, it’s pretty chill during the day if you find yourself in there, but it’s the kind of place you go to for the gigs and stay until they kick you out.

people at dalston roofpark in dalston london bar
fh3 event space dalston roofpark in dalston london bar

4. The rooftop bar: Dalston Roofpark

Dalston, London

It started as a pop-up bar on a forgotten rooftop. It started as Dalston's best-kept secret. These days, the Dalston Roofpark is something more of an East London institution.

This year-round rooftop bar and event space is known for its views of the London city skyline, sound system, smashing cocktails and craft beers – and rooftop yoga, brunch, Caribbean food, and events.

Dalston Roofpark also offers FH3 (Fitzroy House), an event space with integrated, state-of-the-art audio and visual technologies that can be booked in conjunction with the rooftop bar or on its own. This industrial space is ideal for shoots, brand launches, PR events, pop-ups and activations, and private parties. There's seriously nothing Dalston Roofpark doesn't do.

interior of three sheets in dalston in london
interior of three sheets in dalston in london

5. What is this, a cocktail bar for ants?! Three Sheets

Dalston, London

We hope you appreciate our Zoolander reference. Another favourite on Kingsland Road (conveniently located a couple of doors down from honourary mention Village 512), Three Sheets may just be the tiniest Dalston bar on the list – reservations are a must here.

The space is beyond intimate, with minimalist decor highlighted by a striking green statement wall opposite an exposed brick wall and a dramatic white marble bar.

We like to start our night in Three Sheets, imbibing a couple of cocktails – oiling the gears as it were – before working our up and down Kingsland Road and ending up in a club for a drunken dance.

exterior of hacha in dalston in london
interior of hacha in dalston in london

6. The Dalston bar that’s an agaveria: Hacha

Dalston, London

We’re not sure if Hacha made up the word agaveria – a cocktail bar specialising in agave spirits – we actually like made-up words that make sense, so we’re all for this.

The Kingsland Road bar has a typical East End decor with its geometric lampshades, pops of green from potted plants, and striking graphic art prints on white walls. We also like its blue facade.

There are three serious orders of business to discuss when Hacha is concerned: you must order the Smoked Citrus Negroni, the award-winning Mirror Margarita, and the sea bream ceviche – and Bob’s your uncle, as they say.

interior of red hand bar in dalston in london
interior of red hand bar in dalston in london

7. Another Kingsland Road bar: Red Hand

Dalston, London

All the Dalston bars are on Kingsland Road, but we’re not complaining, it’s actually convenient for crawls. Established in 2019, Red Hand is one of the more recent additions to Dalston’s major artery.

Inside, the industrial chic interior offers warm tones and textures that make it feel more cosy than minimalist, and the square bar is situated in the centre of the space. Although craft beer reigns supreme, they dabble in wines, cocktails, and even Tequila Verdita – if you don’t know what it is, just order it.

But it’s not just the atmosphere that’s earned Red Hand its place on our list. They do what we can only describe as gourmet toasties (you read that correctly), and they are cheesy and bangin’ and delicious. So hire the space out and wow everybody at your next party with the humble toastie – a round of Tequila Verdita first will ensure their appreciation.

exterior of ridley road market bar in dalston in london
dance floor at ridley road market bar in dalston in london

8. The late-night bar for a boogie: Ridley Road Market Bar

Dalston, London

Look, it really is the kind of place you end up in for a boogie – it’s the only appropriate word when you think about the music that’s played here. Ridley Road is where you end up when it’s late and you’ve swerved in and out of the bars on Kingsland Road.

Shabby-chic café by day, and kitschy dance bar by night, it has plenty of tropical decor, neon lights, and a black-and-white checkered floor just calling out to be danced on.

This Dalston bar is well-known and well-loved for its vibe, frozen margaritas, and DJ sets of everything from retro Funk, Soul, Jazz, and Dance tunes. If you haven’t been, you’re not doing yourself any favours.

exterior of the victoria pub in dalston in london
rum collection at the victoria pub in dalston in london

9. The not-quite rum bar: The Victoria

Dalston, London

The Victoria resides within an old pub under the care of the Jaguar Shoes Collective. It’s another Dalston bar for emerging bands and live music. The live music room has been a London scene staple since the '80s – before Jaguar Shoes time, but a tradition they’ve kept up.

A 5-minute walk from Dalston Junction, the bar is one of only a couple bars on this list that is quite nice both on the outside and inside, with its brick and black-painted wood facade and traditional interior. It’s also not located on Kingsland Road – all manner of stereotype-breaking.

This genuine relic of Victorian heritage has been a community hub for a century, its 1950s-era bar island stealing the spotlight, offering classic Jaguar Shoes cocktails, local craft brews, a selection of wines and cocktails, and what we can only describe as a penchant for premium rum.

exterior of the prince george pub in dalston in london
people in the prince george pub in dalston in london

10. The Dalston bar on a quiet street: The Prince George

Dalston, London

While you can find us somewhere on Kingsland Road dancing until the wee hours of the morning, Prince George is where you’ll likely find us during a day session. We like the leafy green street, the little terrace out front, and the quietness – what every hangover needs during the day.

Inside, the pub is a summer yellow with a traditional wood bar, old wooden floors and tables, and chalkboards advertising all the offers and specials. Round a corner and you are greeted by old cinema posters and a giant map. To top it off, their lovely upstairs section is available for private hire.

There’s real ale, craft beers, Sunday Roasts, and a pool table. It’s relaxed, cosy even, and if we’re being really honest, we’d probably hole up in here for a night as well as an afternoon. And then go out dancing on Kingsland Road.

interior of vortex jazz club in dalston in london
interior of vortex jazz club in dalston in london

11. The Dalston bar that’s a jazz club: Vortex

Dalston, London

The Vortex Jazz Club is a volunteer-led community space, event space, and jazz bar. Housed in the very contemporary building that is Dalston Culture House, it’s one of the few bars on this list located somewhere other than Kingsland Road, but still around the corner from Dalston Kingsland Overground.

Hosting nearly 400 performances a year in its intimate space, it's no surprise that it's earned its stripes as one of the world's finest jazz clubs. In an area of London where there are everything from cocktail bars to dive bars to late-night clubs for Funk or Deep House, we’d be remiss to leave out its quality jazz offering in Vortex.

Check out the best bars in Dalston

We've put together the best bars in Dalston for you to find and book. From activity bars for a corporate day out to cosy pubs to swanky cocktail bars, Dalston is full of amazing bars for you to explore. Take a look at all our bar venues in Dalston. Alternatively, tell us exactly what you need and we'll make sure the very best Dalston bar venues respond to your enquiry.

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Guide to hiring bars in Dalston

Dalston – one of London's top areas for nightlife. If you're planning an event or a night out this guide will walk you through the steps to find the perfect bar for your occasion, whether it's a birthday celebration, corporate event, or simply a night out with friends.

Define your event

Before you start your search for a bar in Dalston, it's essential to clearly define the nature of your event. Are you hosting a casual get-together, a birthday party, a corporate function, or a special celebration? Understanding the purpose and atmosphere you want to create will help you choose the right type of bar.

Budget planning

Set a budget for your event. Dalston offers bars with varying price ranges, so knowing your budget in advance will help you narrow down your options and make the planning process smoother.

Online platforms

There are an endless amount of websites that will provide you with a rundown of the best bars in Dalston. It can often feel a little overwhelming searching through these sites. That’s why at HeadBox we work with the best venues and will circulate your event details directly to them. You’ll hear back from trusted venues that have availability and cater to your event. If only it was always this easy.

Location matters

Dalston in centred around Kingsland Road. Do you want to be closer to Dalston Junction or further south along Kingsland Road? Or are you looking for a spot in a quieter residential street? The location can impact the accessibility of your event for your guests.

Capacity and space

Consider the number of guests you're expecting. Dalston bars come in various sizes, so it's crucial to choose one that can comfortably accommodate your group. Take into account the availability of indoor and outdoor space as well.

Amenities and services

Determine the amenities and services you need for your event. Many Dalston in London offer private rooms, DJ booths, sound systems, and dance floors. If you require specific services like catering or cocktail mixologists, be sure to inquire about them during your search.

Ambience and theme

The ambience and theme of a bar can greatly enhance your event. Decide if you want a cosy, intimate setting or a trendy, upbeat atmosphere. Many bars in Dalston are known for unique décor and artistic touches, so choose one that aligns with your event's theme.

Entertainment options

If you want to add entertainment to your event, inquire about the availability of live music, DJs, or other performance options at the bar. Some venues offer the flexibility to bring in your entertainment, while others have in-house options.

Licensing and regulations

Make sure to understand the licensing and regulations associated with hiring a bar in Dalston. Some bars may have specific rules about closing times, music volume, and other event-related factors.

Reservation and booking

Once you've found the perfect bar for your event, contact them as early as possible to secure your reservation. Popular bars in Dalston can get booked up well in advance, especially on weekends and during peak seasons.

Hiring a bar in Dalston offers you the opportunity to host a memorable and enjoyable event in a part of the city known for its nightlife. By following these steps and taking the time to plan, you can ensure that your event is a great success. Dalston's diverse range of bars and venues ensures that there's something for every occasion and taste, so go ahead and start your search for the perfect spot to celebrate or unwind.

Frequently asked questions

You can host a wide range of events in Dalston bars, including birthday parties, corporate events, weddings, engagement parties, product launches, and more. The versatility of the bars in Dalston allows for various celebrations.

It's recommended to book a bar in Dalston as early as possible, especially if you have a specific date or a popular venue in mind. Some bars get booked months in advance, so the sooner you secure your reservation, the better.

Noise restrictions can vary from one bar to another, and they may be subject to local regulations. Make sure to discuss noise levels and any potential restrictions with the bar management to ensure your event complies with local guidelines.

The amenities and services offered can vary by bar. Some common offerings include access to bars, seating arrangements, audio-visual equipment, event planning assistance, and in-house bartenders. Always inquire about what's included in your rental package.

Payment and cancellation policies can differ between bars. You should ask about deposit requirements, payment schedules, and the bar's cancellation policy before finalising your booking to avoid any surprises.

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