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Written by Luke Bull

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November 8, 2022

The top cocktail bars in Kensington

From historic museums and restaurants to stylish cocktail bars and a very popular palace, Kensington takes a classic night out to another level. As you walk around and look at the Victorian Townhouses and pop into the trendy shops, make sure you also check out the many stylish cocktail bars in the area.

Kensington is a chic safe haven for cocktail lovers, whether you’re searching for a bar that serves timeless classics or reinvents flavours in its unique cocktails, head over to the Kensington area to quench your thirst.

So, for some inspiration, check out our list of the best cocktail bars in Kensington.

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1. A quirky, apartment-turned-cocktail bar: Barts London

Kensington, London

Step back in time to the 1929 prohibition era when you walk through the doors of Barts, the apartment-turned-cocktail bar. The old paintings and antique lights create a relaxing atmosphere but don’t be surprised when you see stuffed animal heads and trinkets scattered around.

You can see their modern twist on a historical era through their cocktail menu. Barts revamps timeless cocktails like their ‘Leading Lady’ (gin, peach liqueur, lemon and aloe vera juice) and ‘G & Team Time’ (gin, bergamot liqueur, earl grey tea, lemon and orange marmalade).

From intimate parties to large gatherings, Barts is open for private hire for up to 80 guests looking for a quirky space for their next special event. For a fun speakeasy venue to bring your friends and family, check out Barts on Sloane Avenue.

2. A classy Kensington joint with classic drinks: ESQ

Kensington, London

Conveniently located near the South Kensington tube station is ESQ, a fun cocktail bar on the lower ground floor of the Queen’s Gate Hotel.

The warm tones of this venue make it feel cosy and inviting while enjoying a drink with friends or meeting a coworker for post-work cocktails. The large bar has an impressive collection of alcohol for whatever drink you want.

Whether you’re a guest at the hotel or not, you’re welcome to check out ESQ’s extensive drink menu. They stick with the classics, whilst the bartenders use home-infused spirits in the cocktails to make the flavours shine through in the drinks.

Drinks worth checking out include the Aperol Spritz or their take on a Tequila Sunrise.

3. A sustainability-driven restaurant serving up delicious seasonal drinks: Publiq

Kensington, London

Tired Londoners and tourists, stop by Publiq for a place to sit. The dark blue exterior and cosy outdoor seating with a sign listing the food and drink specials provide a welcoming environment for a place to eat, drink and rest.

Once you open the doors to Publiq, you’re welcomed by different shades of blue and picnic-style tables. The big windows facing the street give off lots of great natural light while you enjoy your meal and cocktail.

Speaking of cocktails – their drink menu offers seasonal cocktails, natural wines and local beers. From a brown butter martini (vodka, cultured butter, aquavit, and martini blanco) to a Cosmo Milk Punch (vodka, cranberry, orange, kaffir, bay, spring green tea and goat’s milk), they have flavours for every taste.

This place is great for a private event with seasonal drinks, cute blue decor, and cosy outdoor seating. Publiq is available for exclusive events for up to 80 guests or smaller gatherings.

4. A romantic spot for cocktails in Kensington: Aubaine

Kensington, London

If you’re looking for a fun place to bring your friends and family, look no further. This French-inspired restaurant is known for serving delicious drinks and tasty dishes.

This swanky and modern joint is located near High Street Kensington tube station and right around the corner from the Natural History Museum and Royal Albert Hall. So, pop in after a long day of walking around and exploring the historical landmarks in the area.

The colourful dishes and cocktails compliment Aubaine’s simple decor and intimate vibe. The airy feel with the bright windows facing the street gives the right amount of natural lighting as you enjoy a cocktail.

Speaking of cocktails, they’ve got plenty of classic and speciality drinks to choose from. Try their Mediterranean (gin, cucumber &yuzu, and rosemary) or the Purple Rose (raspberry gin, Indian tonic, raspberry and mint).

Aubaine is also open for private events if you’re looking for a space to host business dinners, engagement parties or anniversary parties, with space for up to 110 standing guests.

5. A botanical oasis that shines through in the decor, food and drinks: The Botanist

Kensington, London

Offering an escape from the busy streets of Kensington is The Botanist Sloane Square

When you walk into this venue, you’ll find dark round tables and beautiful chandeliers providing soft lighting that sets the scene as you dine with friends and family. Along the wall are hand-painted Sloane’s Caribbean illustrations that you can look at while you check out the modern European menu items.

As expected, this venue serves up botanical cocktails. We suggest you try the drinks from their speciality cocktail list: ‘The Sloane’ (vodka, coconut, rum, vanilla syrup, coconut puree, and fresh coconut) and ‘The Botanist’ (vodka, passionfruit syrup, lime juice, and champagne).

With such a large venue, The Botanist can seat up to 120 guests and 200 standing guests. They also offer private hire if you’re looking to hire a place for a business get-together, cocktail and canapé reception, or intimate dinner.

6. We’ll take an order of a classically modern venue, with a light and airy cocktail menu, on the side: Balans Kensington

Kensington, London

All-occasion venues are few and far between but this restaurant and bar seem to have this covered. For a charming restaurant that hits the spot almost any time of the day, head to Balans Kensington near the High Street Kensington Station tube. This venue serves up classic modern comfort food in a cosy atmosphere.

If you’re looking for a good deal, Balans offers Sparking Thursdays every week from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., where they serve their famous champagne and sparkling wine at half the price.

Not feeling the wine vibe, you can also try one of their classic cocktails, like a mojito or a dark ‘n’ storm. Or try one of their speciality cocktails, the Early Riser (gin, peach, cranberry and cinnamon) or the Evening Sparkle (tequila, grapefruit, apple and soda).

Bring your friends to Balans Kensington and enjoy the cosy atmosphere and delicious drinks. If you’re looking to host a private event for any occasion, Balans has space available for up to 80 guests.

7. An ode to Britain but with a lively twist: Chelsea Funhouse

Kensington, London

Three stories of fun with food, drinks and entertainment, that’s Chelsea Funhouse. From the cocktail and martini bar to the restaurant and outdoor terrace, there’s a lot to discover.

Located on King’s Road, Chelsea Funhouse is the opposite of subtle. When you walk into the 19th-century Renaissance Revival building, the first thing you notice is the green-tiled bar at the centre of the room.

Once you sit down, your eyes will be drawn to the unicorn head in the middle of the wall, behind the bar. If that doesn’t catch your attention, maybe the busy wallpaper or feather ceiling piece will.

The quirky atmosphere shines through in the drinks too. Try the ‘Pink Fun’ (vodka, hibiscus, lime and ginger beer) or head to the martini bar to try one of the many espresso martini variations.

For private events, Chelsea Funhouse offers private rooms upstairs for cosy parties with a private bar for all types of events.

8. A sophisticated, elegant drinking experience with a side of Latin American culture: Zuaya

Kensington, London

This exotic Latin American restaurant is a hidden gem located on Kensington High Street and within walking distance from Kensington Palace.

You won’t be disappointed by the decor at this place. The fun black and white floors and lush green plants highlight the elegant marble-topped bar as you walk up the stairs. Alongside Zuaya’s sophisticated atmosphere, is a carefully curated Latin American-inspired menu with sharing-style dishes.

Zuaya’s Latin influence doesn’t stop with their food. Be transported by their sweet, tropical and fruity cocktails. We suggest you try: the Coco Loco (rum, vodka, tequila, coconut cream) or the Black Forest (tequila, wild berries, apple, lychee, and grenadine).

Whether you need a canapé reception, buffet, or intimate dinner, this venue can hold up to 120 standing guests.

9. An Eccentric Drinking Spot: The Ivy Kensington

Kensington, London

Located near the Royal Albert Hall and Kensington Palace, sits this sophisticated cocktail bar, The Ivy Kensington.

Right when you walk into the venue, you’re met with The Ivy’s eccentric art on the walls.

The rustic decor and colourful artwork provide a backdrop for the array of dishes offered on the menu. From traditional British dishes to Asian-inspired cuisine, Ivy offers food for every palate.

Don’t forget to look at their collection of fun drinks too. From a Mango Colada (rum mango, coconut and lime) to Candy Floss Fizz (prosecco, rose petal liqueur, lychee, ginger, and rum), your sugary cocktail craving will be satisfied.

Looking to host an intimate, semi-private event? Hire the Ivy for a special celebration that seats up to 12 people.

10. A cocktail space with sassy lighting and ample dancing space: Percy’s Kensington

Kensington, London

Follow the chequered floors and lit-up entrance to Percy’s. Once you enter the cocktail bar, you’re welcomed by loud music, colourful lights and funky furniture.

The green couches and high-top tables border the edge of the room, allowing the dance floor to take centre stage to dance with your friends. The dark lighting and colourful spotlights make this a great spot for a night out.

There is a fair choice of cocktails to try throughout the night. You can stick with the classics and order a Margarita or Strawberry Mojito or branch out and try our pick: Percy’s Mango Negroni (vodka, Aperol and mango liqueur).

For private hire, Percy’s offers all types of private events, parties, music performances, work events, and exhibitions, with room for up to 350 standing guests. For good company and even better drinks, head to Percy’s.

The best cocktail bars in Kensington

What's your cocktail of choice? Shaken or stirred, over ice or neat? Whatever tipple you fancy, check out our top selection of the best cocktail bars Kensington and Chelsea have to offer. From rooftop bars to underground venues, hidden speakeasies to famous cocktail bars with the best mixologists - hire out your own room, or even the entire venue, without any hassle. Order your favourite classic cocktail or try out some tasty mocktails at one of these Kensington and Chelsea venues near you. Book one of these Kensington and Chelsea cocktail bars for your next event for a guaranteed good time. Cheers.

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How to hire a cocktail bar in Kensington

We know that finding a venue the old-fashioned way (where you trawl the internet, contact 10 venues or set your heart on one, only to find that they're out of your price range and not even available on your dates) is a pain, and there are a few pitfalls between you and booking your perfect cocktail bar. Getting the venue finding process down to a professional art is what we’ve made our mission ever since we took on the events industry. We often get asked the same questions, so here's what we recommend to quickly and easily hire a space in Kensington.

Frequently asked questions

For cocktail bars in Kensington, you're spoilt for choice. Here are a few extra special ones that we vouch for:

The Conservatory, The Milestone Hotel – Stop by this Kensington cocktail bar for alfresco drinks.

Little Havana, Embargo Republica – With fun drinks, a rooftop terrace and a photo booth to capture your good time, this Kensington cocktail bar is a little slice of sunshine.

There really is no one answer to this question: so many variables come into play when understanding the cost of exclusive hire of a cocktail bar or a private space in a cocktail bar. How many guests are you planning for? Is the venue for the day, an afternoon, or the night? The good news is that you can find a venue for pretty much any budget (okay, almost any budget). Instead of letting the venue dictate the price, our advice is to be proactive and set a budget that you feel comfortable with – this way the right venues can reach out to you through HeadBox.

There are lots of ways to book a Kensington cocktail bar. You can do the old-fashioned thing and pick up the phone, or email the venue directly. Unfortunately, lots of venues are busy and may not get back to you in time. That's where we come in. Give us your enquiry and we'll reach out to the best cocktail bars in Kensington and let you enjoy your free time. Easy.

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