The Borough bar bucket list

Live music at the Shacklewell Arms. Pic Paul Hudson

January is a blue time. The joviality of Christmas has passed, the pressure of work begins, and the next bank holiday seems all too far away.

But do not fear, we have turned our backs on ‘Dry January’ and have compiled a list of great of places to try out if your spirits need a New Year’s lift. Let’s kick 2017 off to a merry start…in moderation, of course.

The Queen of Hoxton
1 Curtain Rd, London EC2A 3JX

Located down the road from Liverpool Street Station, The Queen of Hoxton eludes a unique charm. With three very different floors to explore and an interior which is both mischievous and outlandish, rest assured you will not be bored in this place. The basement caters to some very loud and hedonistic dance nights, however the real treasure in the venue is on the top floor. After trekking to the top, you will feel like one of Peter Pan’s lost boys who has just found his home again. In what I can only describe as a treehouse/wigwam hybrid, this quirky upper floor leads out to a whimsical rooftop overlooking the twinkling lights of the City of London. Turn up early to get a seat, it is a rather popular abode.

Netil 360
1 Westgate St, Hackney, London E8 3RL

Situated in the heart of London Fields creative community is Netil 360. The rooftop bar is hidden on top of various creative independents so be sure to keep your eyes alert to find it, especially at night. Once you arrive, you will be patting yourself on the back that you persevered. The rooftop bar overlooks East London and offers not only great views, but an expansive space to hang out with friends. The fairy lights draped around the rooftops’ perimeter gives the space a mystical festival-like atmosphere. Be sure to check this place out in summer for the events, but be warned, it can get busy.

The Shacklewell Arms
71 Shacklewell Ln, London E8 2EB

Though technically more a pub than a bar, if you are into unpretentious drinks and live music, this hidden gem is something to check out. Around 10 minutes’ walk from Dalston Kingsland station and down a residential street, it could often be overlooked as a typical pub from its fairly unimpressive exterior. However, once you walk inside there is a gritty feel to the place with its artsy inhabitants and distinct spilt-beer aroma. More importantly, its late night license allows an eclectic gig schedule, various club nights, as well as many after-parties and staff nights. A must visit for those interested in hearing the best of upcoming musical talent in an understated and relaxed atmosphere.

The Bonneville Tavern
43 Lower Clapton Rd, London E5 0NS

The Bonneville Tavern is one of those places to visit if you are a sucker for the ‘old world’ rustic vibe. Equipped with a stain glass ceiling, stripped walls, and a low-lit interior, this place is great if you are looking for a venue offering a fully stocked bar with a personality to match. It also serves up delicious French-Belgian dishes if you are feeling a bit peckish. Perfect for a date or hanging out with friends. The only downside is it can get busy, and it is a bit pricey.

Callooh Callay
65 Rivington St, London EC2A 3AY
Named Best International High Volume Cocktail Bar at Tales of the Cocktail 2016 amongst various other impressive awards, this bar is one to experience just on its reputation alone. With a Lewis Carroll themed interior which is dark, trendy, and quirky (there is a toilet hidden behind a secret door in the wall), as well as a notably innovative cocktail menu, Callooh Callay is one to tick of your bar bucket list.

Satan’s Whiskers
343 Cambridge Heath Rd, London E2 9RA
From the outside it’s easy to walk past this fairly hidden hang out. Oozing a speak-easy vibe, the derelict outside and black blinds are an easy deterrent to the unsuspecting. However, once you open the scratched wooden door a trendy moody atmosphere opens up to your newly adjusted eyes. With a dark interior lit by soft lights and candles, coupled with a variety of taxidermy figures and Parisian posters, this hangout is a must see. The bartenders are extremely friendly and make great cocktails too. Be warned, it is rather pricey.

East London Liquor Company
Unit GF1, 221 Grove Rd, London E3 5SN
East London Liquor Company is the first vodka, gin and rum distillery in East London in over 100 years. Producing artisan concoctions not for the faint hearted, this venue echoes an old school vibe. With exposed brickwork, tall ceilings and open windows, the factory feel is very much filtered in to the décor of the place. With a variety of drinks on offer from people who really know how to make them (literally) this place is definitely somewhere for the curious to check out.

Peg & Patriot
Patriot Square, London E2 9NF
Set in a quirky warehouse industrial interior, experimental mixologist Matt Whiley (who also founded ‘Talented Mr Fox’ in Leicester Square) is behind this bar dishing out inventive cocktails to those who are up for trying something with a bit of twist. Set in the old Hackney Town Hall the bar also shares its space with Typing Room; a restaurant known for its modern take on European dishes and unusual wine.

The Old Truman Brewery
91 Brick Ln, London E1 6QR

Once home to London’s largest brewery, this large industrial structure is now home to a hive of media and creative outlets as well as bars, restaurants and independent stores. Bars which act in partnership with The Old Truman Brewery include Juju’s Bar & Stage, All Star Lanes, Junkyard Golf Club, 99 Feet East, The Big Chill and Café 1001. All of which are equally unique and definitely worth checking out individually.

The Big Chill
Dray Walk, Brick Ln, London E1 6QL

Just opposite The Old Truman Brewery is The Big Chill. The Big Chill is a place for those who are down to have a giggle, mingle, dance and good time. With a long bar serving all the classics and a large open plan interior catering to groups of all sizes, the attraction is in the name. Head down in the summer months where the outdoor decking is a perfect location for relaxing and people watching Brick Lanes eclectic characters. You can also appreciate the assortment of multi-coloured lanterns bobbing above you in the breeze, giving it a fairyland feel. Oh, for it to be summer again!

Little Nan’s Bar
Arch 14, 4 Deptford Market Yard, SE8 4BX

Set in between historic arches right under Deptford Station, Little Nans is the perfect spot for an afternoon tea or evening pick me up if you enjoy an artistic and quirky vibe. With Cocktails in teapots and a dream like vintage interior, this is great for those looking for something a bit different, from the drinks to the novelty toilet.

The Fat Walrus
44 Lewisham Way, London SE14 6NP

Having just opened in early 2016, Fat Walrus has already been a hit with the locals. With an interior boasting exposed brickwork, low hanging mood lights and plush comfy chairs, the place is atmospheric for those who like a sophisticated vibe. The American influenced food on offer is tasty, and the drinks on offer are and reasonably priced. Fat Walrus also offers a fun large outdoor seating area – great for a group summer time get-to-together.

Le Bouchon Wine Bar
72 Tranquil Vale, London SE3 0BN

If you are looking for an intimate minimalist setting with a great selection of wine, Le Bouchon is the place for you. Situated against the pretty backdrop of Blackheath, this authentic French wine bar offers an atmosphere that is relaxing, unhurried and tantalisingly indulgent. With wine available by the glass, carafe or bottle, as well as selection of small charcuterie and cheese plates on offer, this place is perfect for date nights or an after work wind down.

7-9 Montpelier Vale, Blackheath, London SE3 0TA

Located in the heart of Blackheath’s picturesque village, Morden’s offers a perfect solution to those who are wanting a bit of a frivolous night. With most places in Blackheath closed by 1pm, Morden’s is great for those wanting to dance the night away and sip on some sassy cocktails. With a newly refurbished stylish interior and a lantern lit sun garden, this place is great for those wanting a bit of everything. Turn up before 11:30pm on weekends to avoid disappointment.

Jam Circus
330-332 Brockley Rd, Brockley, London SE4 2BT

Located in Brockley, Jam Circus is great for those who prefer a more colourful atmosphere. The Bar/Pub gives of a shabby-chic vibe and hosts a variety of comedy and quiz nights. With a 1am license on Fridays and Saturdays, come down to hear some resident DJ’s spin some tunes to start (or end) your night.

Box Park Croydon
99 George St, London CR0 1LD

Made up of 80 abandoned shipping containers and built on a derelict brown site adjacent to East Croydon station; Box Park is a must go for those looking for something new. With a 2,000 capacity venue and around 200 scheduled events for the year, Box Park is the place if you’re looking for a variety of things to eat, drink, dance and do, all in one go!

South Beats Cocktail Bar & Lounge
282 High St, Croydon CR0 1NG

Located in the heart of Croydon’s high street and set over three floors, this quirky vibrant bar offers great music and affordable indulgent cocktails. With regular two for one offers and friendly and helpful staff, this space is great for either catching up with old friends or hitting the basement dance floor.

Playground Cocktail Bar
63 S End, Croydon CR0 1BF

First opening its doors in 2015, Playground has been a reoccurring feature in the Croydon party circuit. Pegging itself as creating ‘Croydon’s Finest Cocktails’ the name doesn’t fall far from the mark. The cocktails were designed with Bryan Pietersen the owner of renowned Marylebone bar ‘PURL’ in London. With a stylish interior and half price cocktails on Tuesday, I would head down and take a sip…I mean look.

Apatura Bar Restaurant & Grill
14 S End, Croydon CR0 1DL

Situated in Croydon’s South End restaurant quarter, Apatura is great for treating your loved one to a romantic meal or having a sneaky cocktail with a few girlfriends. Fusing Mediterrean with Tex-Mex, Apatura offers diners a versatile and affordable menu in a light and airy setting.

The Dutchie Restaurant and Cocktail Bar
32-34 High St, Croydon CR0 1YB

Looking for authentic Caribbean food? The Dutchie is the place for you. Tucked away in the Arcade Allay, this venue offers flavoursome food, generous portions, and a variety of fruity and delectable cocktails. Book in advance to avoid disappointment.

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