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Written by Luke Bull

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August 1, 2023

London West End bars you need to check out

The West End, London's theatreland, has a hard-earned reputation for being the place to spend an evening out on the town. Draped in the history of so many nights out, the bars and clubs of the City's den of vice, glamour and curtain calls are world famous.

Of course, that doesn't mean you're bound to step into a good one. Many a big night has been foiled by poor planning. You know the scene, big dreams of a big night spurned by lack of any options beyond the ambiguous "pub?".

If only there was a list of the best bars in the West End; a list of all the greatest drinking spots and storied dives that you have to check out.

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1. The West End's Wartime drinking hole: Cahoots

Soho, London

Cahoots is a West End bar that seems to want to do it all. Its themes confusingly range from wartime London to trains, to any aesthetic from the 1920s-1950s. Despite this relative lack of thematic clarity, it proves incredibly popular throughout the week. This is, in part, due to the care and attention that goes into the decor and drinks. Expect vintage signage, repurposed tube cartridges, menus on broadsheet papers and a whole lot of booze.

On this: the cocktails are good, if pricey. Two or three should give you a steady buzz, and we recommend the Winston Churchill (if drinking gin, cherry liqueur and guava out of a bust of the famed statesman is your vibe).

The Cahoots project has three spaces – Underground, Ticket Hall and Signal Station – with the two subterranean areas by far being the ones to opt for. Private hire is available for 150 guests, and it would be a great shout for themed parties, work or personal.

2. A West End bar hidden above a restaurant: The Blind Pig

Soho, London

Picture the perfect bar. Dim lighting, a low buzz of conversation, drinks in heavy glass, ice melting slowly. That, in a nutshell, is The Blind Pig.

Located above the Social Eating House restaurant, The Blind Pig proclaims itself to bring a 'relaxed, speakeasy vibe' to the first floor of the Poland Street building. We can attest to this. Plush seating is bathed in warm light, leaving plenty of shadows playing across the low-key interior.

Cocktails are the thing to for here. The menu is updated frequently,y often adhering to an overall theme. Though this risks playing into the sphere of the novel, The Blind Pig avoids this by putting genuine care into their concoctions. The most recent music-centric roster is quite a thing to behold: Try a Cure-inspired mix of mezcal, maraschino and charcoal powder – fittingly gothic.

For private hire The Blind Pig can be your own private West End bar, giving ample for space for 65 standing.

3. An iconic West End bar: Nightjar Carnaby

Soho, London

Iconic feels like an overused word in the London bar scene. Self-declared icons muddy every back alley of West London, with self-mythologising leaving the average punter more confused than ever.

The original Nightjar is actually pretty iconic. The OG Shoreditch spot is one of the most recognisable speakeasy-style bars in the city, with their extensive cocktail menu and laid-back atmosphere providing the backdrop to countless great first dates.

With that in mind, you can justifiably excited that Nightjar have opened a new venture in Carnaby Street. The imaginatively named Nightjar Carnaby brings its mixological heft to the West End.

4. West London's mini-golf bar: Swingers West End

Oxford Circus, London

Evoking the quaint British seaside of the 1920s, Swingers West End brings Helter Skelters, Ferris wheels and increasingly absurd golf courses to the mania of Oxford Street.

Crazy golf and drinking are strange bedfellows, but it's proven to work: with two London venues, Swingers have tapped into a clear winner with the city's drinkers who are eager for some organised fun. The seaside theme has you negotiating curves, mazes, hillocks a plethora of other miniature land features, with a dramatic feature finish worthy of a Carry On film.

The drinks tend toward the classics, with twist-bearing themed names also making an appearance. The Fairway to Heaven is a standout mix of pink grapefruit gin, apricot brandy and Earl Grey syrup.

Private hire is available across various spaces, with the bar area accommodating 32 standing.

5. An underground West End bar: The Cocktail Club: Shaftesbury Avenue

Shaftesbury Avenue, London

Resembling a subterranean tattoo parlour with a crippling addiction to alcohol, The West End's Cocktail Club makes the most of bare wires, neon signs and a full cocktail menu.

It's unassuming, unpretentious and they make a pretty decent reggae rum punch if you don't mind a hit of sweetness. A 2-4-1 Happy Hour (or three) is enforced from 4pm-7pm, which means you can get pretty boozed for cheap before stumbling up the stairs and into the light and blare of London's West End.

Private hire is available for 110 people, making it a great option for work drink events, or a birthday blowout.

6. A West End bar that feels home from home: The Little Scarlet Door

West End, London

Long live the house party, says the newest addition to the line of Little {insert colour here} Door bars that have been popping up over London the past couple of years.

Joining Soho’s Greek Street this June, Scarlet has had quite the hot girl summer and is showing no signs of slowing down. If you haven’t been to one of the other locations (there’s a Yellow, Blue and Orange Door in the fam), here’s their thing – they do house party vibes, in a kind of secret bar – and it’s great.

Like an actual gaff, when you wander into every room over the two floors you find each is having its own mini-party – you know how it is, bathroom DMCs, smoking area banter, drinking games in the kitchen and dancing in the living room. Dotted around are washing machines, fridges and record players to bring the house, with DJs, disco balls and neon signs adding the party.

The cocktails are TV and movie-themed (yes, ordering the Mad Men will make you feel exactly like Don Draper), with toasties, charcuterie boards and bar snacks for when you get hungry. You can also throw your own exclusive house party and hire out the basement, first-floor open-plan living room and kitchen area, or the whole thing. With no worries of clean-up or noise complaints the next day.

Check out the best bars in West End

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

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