Days are getting shorter and evenings are getting cooler, summer is slowly fading away. But this is no reason to stay home and feel blue when you can be sipping on a heavenly botanical cocktail while listening to live Blues. Here’s our top 10 bars for cocktails and live music in London.
This awesome 1920’s speakeasy bar is probably one of the best bars in the world. It’s a gorgeous, low-lit room with comfortable seating, smooth table service and a long, playful cocktail list divided into historical eras. Every night there is live jazz and blues, starting the evening with more sweet and discreet jazz and swing to more bluesy jazz as the night goes on. This one is not to be missed!
When a kick ass jazz band open up a basement bar it is a recipe for success. The music is anything from live swing to chilled blues and the drinks are killer juleps. This bar is about turning jazz’s exclusive, snobby and misunderstood reputation on it’s head; so forget what you know about jazz as the band will have you clapping and stomping out of sheer joy. Come down, sit back, take a sip of your julep and let the rhythm carry you away.
Dandelyan will transport you to a place where you can lose yourself in exotic flavours, unexpected combinations, cool blues and soul music in an opulent and relaxing setting. Dandelyan was started by Ryan Chetiyawardana, aka bartender Mr Lyan – a cocktail dignitary and mastermind. Come down for ‘Tunesday’ on a Tuesday and you won’t want the evening to end!
Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club
It would kind of rude not to mention this classic jazz hangout. It is one of the most respected jazz clubs in the world and has been host to some of the greatest names in music – Stan Getz, Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis to mention a few. Today the club remains on the cutting edge of the music scene and is the place for music fans of all ages. The drinks menu is as inspiring as the acts, with classic and avant-garde cocktails as well as a good selection of wine and beers.
Named Oriole after a brightly coloured bird with impressive orange feathers found across Africa, Europe, Asia and Australia, the bar boasts exotic “tiki chic” decor and will transport you to an ancient world. This basement bar, decked out with masks from the Congo and bronze sculptures from the Amazon, plays host to live swing, jazz and blues bands. The menu is split into three sections: Old World, New World and The Orient and features cocktails inspired by the flavours and drinking habits in each. This bar is quickly becoming one of the coolest hangouts of London.
This little cocktail bar in Shoreditch has so much to offer. It serves delicious retro cocktails, offers late-night music and good times all round. Step inside to discover a haze of Victorian elegance with a modern, East London tinge. The bar bites are also worth a taste; all are a clever and tasty twist on the classic toastie – fancy a Crustin Bieber, Jamon Eileen or a Cheezus of Nazareth. If you are a little more adventurous you can also show off your vocal talent on open mic night otherwise just leave it up to those who know what they are doing.
Photograph by Addie Chinn
Perched 150m high above London in the Sky Garden, Sky Pod mixes cocktails with breath-taking views from its 35th floor location. Watching the sun set over the city of London makes it a pretty special place to enjoy a memorable drink. The tropical gardens and cool tunes from the live band will whisk you away to paradise. You can sit back and chill as you sip on a tantalising cocktail or show off your dance moves. This place is truly intoxicating – luckily there is a long lift ride down to gently bring you back to reality as you leave the little haven that is Sky Pod.
NOLA is an international award winning cocktail bar, inspired by the culture and rich history of New Orleans. With a soundtrack of blues and jazz, a cigar terrace and drinks list that will leave your head spinning with choice; NOLA is a bar that believes drinking should be fun and laid back. You can escape the hustle and bustle of London life as you step inside for a night you will never forget!
Hidden underneath One Aldwych Hotel lies Cellar Door bar; a former public toilet turned hidden cabaret club with an atmosphere that’s part Weimar Berlin and part New York basement dive. This place is well worth seeking out and investigating. The entertainment ranges from cabaret to drag acts and from burlesque to piano lounge. Cocktails are created by skilled and award winning mixologists and served by “angelic” bar staff in this plush 1940’s drinking den.
The Piano Works
This Victorian-listed warehouse is just like an old school Jazz bar, just without the smoke. There’s two pianists with a gang of musicians – but you’re the boss, the audience decides what is played. It can be anything from Rihanna to Louis Armstrong. Live musicians take you back to a time when you sang and danced for the sheer joy of it. Put in your request, sit back and enjoy plenty of cocktails and classic bar food. Don’t come here looking for a quiet place to drink and listen to some mellow jazz or soul, come here expecting to have a great night of music, dance and drink!