London is all about the unique drinking experiences these days, with cool, quirky bars popping up left, right and centre. Forget sipping on your favourite tipple somewhere ordinary; head to one of the city’s bizarre yet brilliant bars that you will never have experienced anywhere else in the world. From whacky themes to secret booze smuggling, these places really do think outside the box and are without doubt the best quirky bars in London if you’re looking for a different kind of evening…
In no particular order:
What’s more quirky than ordering drinks from inside an abandoned old London tube station? Cahoots has a secret little entrance tucked away in Soho’s Kingly Court, so keep an eye out so that you don’t walk straight past it. Head down the stairs underground, swing open the door and experience a 1940’s London open up in front of you. One of the coolest bars in the city, order your drinks from a newspaper, sit on old tube seats and enjoy a bucket of popcorn that comes with your drink. The waiters and waitresses are also dressed in 1940s gear making the experience more authentic. There are some unique London-themed cocktails to enjoy making Cahoots the perfect place to escape the autumn and winter chill.
We recommend booking before you go as they only let a certain number of walk-ins in each day.
2 THE FOUR QUARTERS
London’s very first arcade bar can be found both in Peckham and Hackney Wick, with 2 for 1 cocktails and arcade classics making this the ideal bar for the game-obsessed. Pacman, Tetris and Crazy Taxi are just three of the epic old-school video games they’ve got for you to go wild on while you’re sipping cocktails or sinking craft beers. Each game will cost you one quarter and four of them are £1. So just turn up, get the quarters in and start playing!
3 THE BLETCHLEY
Hidden behind a gastro pub in Chelsea, The Bletchley is by far one of London's quirkiest cocktail joints. The underground bar takes on a Bletchley Park theme from World War Two meaning to order a cocktail, you've got to crack a code. Once you've donned your agent uniform and chosen your agent name, you're all set to get started on your mission and code crack your way to some seriously tasty cocktails. There's no menu, just some talented bartenders shaking up drinks that they think you'll enjoy based on what you choose while cracking some code (and let me tell you, they really hit the nail on the head!).
The bar-escape room hybrid is unlike anywhere else in London and definitely delivers for a fun and unforgettable night out. Book your slot in advance or it's unlikely you'll get in.
4 BALLIE BALLERSON
What could be more fun (when you’ve had a few drinks) than jumping into a giant ball pit? Ballie Ballerson is the ultimate adult playground. The quirky Shoreditch bar has two enormous pits filled with over 1 million plastic balls, glowing in the UV lights, for you to mess about with in between sips of one of the tastiest cocktails you’ve ever had (The Salt Bae is our particular fave). Bottomless brunch is also on the cards at this place, and after one too many proseccos that ball pit will look even more like the best idea ever.
If you’re ever looking for a fun weekend activity with your friends, Swingers has you covered. Play crazy-golf with a group of friends in a high-style, sophisticated bar that serves you up drinks while you play. Things get interesting at the last hole when most of you are tipsy and can just about hit straight. Swingers also has some street food stations within the venue so you can grab a bite to eat before or after the golf course. Tasty burgers, pizzas, tacos, cheese fries - it’s the perfect post golf snack.
There’s a Swingers in London’s West End, and another branch in the City. You can book online or walk-in.
6 PERGOLA OLYMPIA
Olympia’s Pergola rooftop bar is the new place to go in West London. The easygoing atmosphere, long tables and street eats give it the kind of vibe that’s perfect for those more chilled out drinking sessions. What makes this one a top contender on our quirky list is that you will feel like you’re sitting in a botanical garden for drinks - the Insta-opportunities are endless! When the drunken hunger kicks in, head to one of the three street food stalls: Patty & Bun for one of the best burgers in London, Claw for crab rolls to die for, or Passo for their famous pizzas.
Book a table online for free in advance as this place is likely to pack out. Once you sit down, you won’t want to leave!
If you’re looking a London bar that’s a bit more special (but still quirky), Purl will make for a perfect evening out. While the drinks are a little more expensive, you can drink from stylish underground caves and enjoy some of the finest cocktails in the city, made by talented mixologists. Great for birthday drinks, date night - or just a nice catch up with friends - Purl’s 19th century cellar bar whizzes you back to a London era of glitz and glamour. It’s not just the interior that’s quirky at Purl, the drinks are too. Let the waiter suggest a drink based on your preferences…
8 THE PIANO WORKS
A bar that turns into a dance party, Piano Works in Farringdon is different because all of the music that you hear is played by a live band. And the best part is - the playlist is set based on the songs you ask for. The band is amazing and can literally play any song that has been requested. Whether it’s Drake or Spice Girls, Piano Works’ cheap drinks and dance floor combo is a winner. It’s essentially a concert with all the songs you love.
Looking for a bar with a twist? BYOC stands for a ‘Bring Your Own Cocktail’ and that’s exactly what you have do in this bar in Camden. Sounds kinda against the point of going to a bar right? Wrong. Bartenders will shake up your own bespoke cocktail made out of the ingredients you bring. Find the mysterious black door on Mornington Crescent and enter an underground haven of recipe creations. All you have to do is bring a bottle of your favourite spirit.
Smuggle your booze past the warden and into London’s secret prison where some of the city’s most hardcore inmates will rustle you up some mind blowing cocktails. Buy your tipple on the outside and the guards will help you get it past the warden so you can have a more enjoyable prison experience… If you love a bit of drama and you don’t mind wearing an orange jumpsuit to drink cocktails (outfits provided, of course), Alcotraz is a bar you’ve got to check out. Bring a bottle of spirit with you to smuggle in and the ‘inmates’ will mix up the perfect cocktails to suit your taste.
Perfectly located on Brick Lane, one of London’s quirkiest streets to match the quirky London bar this is, make sure to pre book your tickets or you won’t get in.
Are you a die hard Breaking Bad fan? If so, ABQ definitely needs a spot on your London bar bucket list. Cocktails get cooked up Heisenberg-style in a giant RV in Hackney, plus on the top level you’ll find a shot-only bar and arcade games that reward you with shots depending on how good you are at the game. The old-school hip-hop music mixed with concocting your own epic cocktails in the ‘meth lab’ make this a real Breaking Bad experience, and without doubt one of the quirkiest bars in London.
12 THE LITTLE BLUE DOOR
You know when you go out, and then you think to yourself ‘wish I just stayed at home instead’. Well, at this bar you kinda get the best of both worlds. The Little Blue Door is a home away from home (literally). This bar has been transformed into a local Fulham house with different rooms to explore and veg out in. Whether you’re coming for drinks, or a full on party, it’s like being at an actual house party with the bartenders, waiters and chefs as your flatmates. The home cooked food is heart warming and delicious and the drinks are always flowing. Grab a sofa, chat with friends and sip on some of Fulham’s best cocktails. There are board games you can play, books to read - it’s a chilled out drinking venue where it’s easy to make friends.
The Little Blue Door is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.