Part of the beauty of East London nightlife is its diverse vibrancy – you will only ever be a stone’s throw away from a trendy dive bar, a bespoke cocktail lounge with incredible mocktail options, a craft beer haven, or a place where you can kick back with a glass of wine and aperitif pairings.
As many of the top East London bars are so close to each other, bar hopping isn’t only a possibility; it is actively encouraged in the lively East End nightlife community. After a few visits to your favourite new bars, you will get acquainted with a few familiar faces. However, with some of the bars on our round-up of the eight best East London bars, you will need to book a table or make a reservation to avoid on-the-night disappointment.
Unlike venturing into South or West London, glamming up for the evening isn’t required, but there is no stopping you from dressing to the nines if you want to contrast the cool shabby vibes that spill out from the streets into the atmospheric old-school bars. As East London thrives through its grassroots music scene, you will also frequently find up-and-coming acts on-stage performing to the East London bar crowds.
As most of the bars close at midnight on a weekday and around 2 AM at the weekend, if you want to extend your night, you may want to finish your night on the town in one of the iconic clubs, including Colours Hoxton, The Prospect of Whitby and The Blind Beggar Public House in Whitechapel.
8 Best East London Bars
1. The Seed Library in Shoreditch
With an interior that wouldn’t make Oscar Wilde look out of place, The Seed Library is the perfect place to slip back in time while sampling some of the popular expertly crafted cocktails. In our fast-paced digital world, The Seed Library is a reprieve away from the fray; its niche analogue ethos can be experienced through everything from the music to the interior to the cocktails.
The Seed Bar is open from Wednesday – Sunday from 5 PM to late; during the weekend, Love Vinyl will be spinning hits from across the decades; while the accommodating bar always tries to find a table for walk-ins, booking a table is always recommended at the weekends.
All items on the drinks menu are poured and served with a “maker’s touch”, including cocktails, beers, and wines. The drink menu is always subject to change, but there are a few staples on the sample menu, including the Chive Daiquiri, the Raspberry Champagne Cocktail, The Scorched Whiskey Sour and the Cream Margarita. Prices start from £12 for a cocktail.
2. The Sun Tavern in Bethnal Green
If you are looking for the friendliest bar in East London, The Sun Tavern in Bethnal Green takes pride in honouring its neighbourhood bar roots – but that doesn’t come as a compromise to the decadent cocktail offerings you can order from the bar.
The Sun Tavern is revered for having one of London’s largest selections of Irish Whiskey and one of the world’s largest selections of Poitin, a traditional Irish distilled drink, which goes by the name Irish moonshine over in the Emerald Isle. As the alcohol by volume can vary between 40% and 90%, you may want to pair it with some of the bar snacks that are also served barside and tableside. The bar also runs a shop, which sells everything from Vintage Negroni Kits to party drinks hampers to full bottles of Poitin if you develop a taste for it at the bar.
Even though The Sun Tavern is a small space, it still finds room to accommodate live music performances and live DJs. Check the regularly updated events listings for more information. From Sunday to Wednesday, the bar welcomes revellers between noon and midnight; from Thursday to Saturday, the opening hours are extended to 2 AM.
3. Discount Suit Company in Spitalfields
Discount Suit Company may sound like somewhere you’d venture to if you want to pick up a cheap suit for a wedding, but this trendy speakeasy bar in the heart of Spitalfields is a niche bar with an interesting backstory. The bar officially opened in 2014 in a former suit tailor’s storeroom. Today, it attracts classic-inspired cocktail lovers with a penchant for vintage Rock n Roll and Northern Soul.
With many raunchily named cocktails coming in at under £9.50, you don’t have to break the bank to drink in style. The bar snacks are also temptingly cheap; grab a bowl of Sicilian Gordal Olives for £3.50 or splash out on a cheeseboard served with ship biscuits, quince jelly and grapes at £11.50.
From Sunday – Wednesday, Discount Suit Company is open from 5 PM – Midnight; Thursday – Saturday; there are extended opening hours with special events that range from DJ sets to launches of guest cocktails; book a table if you want to celebrate the new cocktail arrivals.
4. Night Jar in Shoreditch
For just over a decade, the Night Jar in Shoreditch has kept East London rich with old-school cool. The barfly’s dream destination is open seven nights a week, and most nights, cocktails are served with a side of jazz or blues from a live band.
The top shelf behind the bar is filled with rare spirits, which can either be enjoyed on the rocks or in an indulgent yet classic cocktail. With the subterranean nature of the speakeasy bar, it is one of London’s best-kept secrets – until now! If you are looking for an antithesis of the flashy nightclubs and bustling West End bars, Night Jar is the ultimate destination for drinkers looking for a relaxing atmosphere.
Unlike many of the best bars in East London, this location is seating only, making it the perfect place for punters who don’t like jostling through crowds to get to the bar. However, this also means that you will need to use the live booking system to secure a 1920s-style candle-lit table. If you are heading to the Night Jar for an early evening drink from 6 PM, you can soak in the ambience; if you want to book a table after 9 PM, you will pay a cover charge, which will go into the pockets of the artists soundtracking your evening.
5. Satan’s Whiskers in Bethnal Green
Tucked away on Cambridge Heath Road, Satan’s Whiskers is the ultimate East London bar for anyone who wants to sink a few cocktails while listening to a hip-hop soundtrack. It may sound like an alternative joint, but everyone is welcome at this neighbourhood cocktail bar that has been on the East End scene since 2013.
Only the finest ingredients get poured into Satan’s Whiskers cocktails, but don’t get too attached to any of them, the cocktail menu changes daily, but that is all the more reason to keep returning to what may come to be your favourite bar in East London. From Sunday – Thursday, the opening hours are 5 PM until late; on Fridays and Saturdays, Satan’s Whiskers keep twitching until the early hours so you can keep the party going.
Satan’s Whiskers has become so much of a staple in the Bethnal Green bar scene that the bar even runs its own merch line! You can also pick up Satan’s Whiskers candles and bottled cocktails if you want to kick back in the comfort of your own home with a gin martini, old-fashioned or Negroni.
6. The Cocktail Trading Company in Shoreditch
The Cocktail Trading Company in Shoreditch may be an award-winning cocktail bar, but it will take far more than a few accolades for it to lose its neighbourhood roots. Unlike many bars when they become revered hotspots, The Cocktail Trading Company is standing firm on its first-come-first-serve basis at the weekends from 10:30 PM onwards.
Keeping in line with the trendy Brick Lane atmosphere, it is no surprise that many East London locals make a habit of frequenting The Cocktail Trading Company, which has a fully transparent cocktail pricing system. Whether you are ordering a classic, one of their maker’s touch concoctions or requesting an off-menu drink, all cocktails are served with an £11 price tag, so there will never be any surprises when you get your bar tab!
Rather quaintly, each of their cocktails comes with a backstory, in addition to the wild and whacky ingredients list and the flavour profile. So, if you are looking for something light and fruity, sweet and sharp, or short and boozy, you will know exactly what to order. The bar is open seven days a week from 5 PM on weekdays and 2 PM at the weekends.
7. The Craft Beer Co. in Limehouse
The Craft Beer Co. in Limehouse will make you forget everything you know about craft beer pubs. You can buy by the bottle or can or sample craft beer on tap at the contemporary yet casual hangout that is filled with cosy vintage touches. The food menu also goes beyond the usual bar snack offerings. The Craft Beer Co. kitchen serves Mekong, Isan Thai, and Modern Lao plates and sharing platters if you don’t mind splashing out on the cuisine bundles. All dietary needs and preferences are catered for with the range of vegan, super hot and meat-free sharing platers.
Via the website, you can check out the draught of the day to check if an amble down to the cosy beer haven will be worth your time; table bookings and group taster sessions can also be booked from the website. At the weekend, you can head down to the Craft Beer Co from as early as noon; throughout the week, the hotspot welcomes craft beer connoisseurs from 7 PM to 11 PM.
The Craft Beer Co is also renowned for running special events, such as London Belgian Bier Weeks, access to exclusive pours at the Two Flints Brewery for any beer fans that want the first taste of craft beers before they are in trend, and United States Beer Events, where you will get to sip your way through the states! There are also regularly held quiz nights, which cost £2 a head to enter. You might want to brush up on your current affairs and general knowledge before you pop down!
8. Night Tales Loft in Hackney
Not many bars in East London can make you feel right at home from your first visit, but with the homely décor in the Night Tales Loft in Hackney, you will get to kick back in ultimate comfort. Visit the loft by day when the Night Tales Loft operates as a hybrid café, or embrace the vibrant nightlife – if the walls could speak, they would undoubtedly have plenty to say!
Inside, you will appreciate the intimate setting, and in the summer months, you can take advantage of the sun trap of a terrace, which boasts an unparalleled view of the East London Skyline. If you have a big event coming up, you can even hire the entire NYC loft space, which is frequently occupied by cultural events and live music showcases.
Once the sun sets, the table and chairs are set aside to make room for the dancefloor, which is always lively when the weekend rolls around. The events listings have something for everyone, from weekly jazz nights to sets from breakthrough pop artists to in-demand DJs. And you can rest assured that the jazz nights are like nothing you have experienced before with Night Tales Loft’s requests that all artists and listeners leave their egos at the door. Everyone is welcome to get involved with the weekly jazz nights; if you are a budding artist looking for a supportive community, look no further!
These best East London bars are just a few options available – there are plenty more depending on your preferences, interests and budget. Have fun exploring, and be sure to notice the East London graffiti and other street art while you are on your way to your new favourite bars!