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Toast the summer with London’s top cocktails or a bargain beer: where to find cheap deals every night of the week

Ah, there’s nothing quite like summer drinking, eh? Contrary to the usual motivation behind British bingeing (blocking out the misery of grey and gloom), summertime is when Londoners bask in the sunshine and smile over after-work pints, rather than drown their sorrows in them. 

Only, your average Londoner today is grinning over something a little more colourful than a beer. According to a survey of 1000 people by, 69% claimed a cocktail is now their drink of choice, while 63% referred an “experience” cocktail bar over a pub.

And you only have to look at the city’s ever-growing raft of experimental cocktail joints – think Shoreditch’s Worship Street Whistling Shop, where ingredients such as aubergine crisp are deemed acceptable, or 69 Colebrooke Row in Angel, where a drink comes with “a hint of hay” – for the proof.

Expect some theatre at London Cocktail Club

Perhaps it’s appropriate, then, that the “happy hour” shares its history with cocktail bars. The former has its routes in the Prohibition era, where speakeasies served drinks before patrons went out to eat in restaurants that couldn’t serve booze.

Once the Prohibition period was over, these speakeasies became cocktail lounges, continuing the trend for drinks ahead of dinner. Fast forward to the present day, and London is awash with happy hours offering  2-4-1 cocktails in the early evening. Even more happily, they tend to go on for a lot longer than a mere 60 minutes.

Take the London Cocktail Club, for example, a pioneer on the city’s experimental cocktail scene and provider of a happy two-and-a-half-hours most nights of the week. Co-owner JJ Goodman tells TNT that LCC practises “tongue-in-cheek mixology”, serving up the likes of cheese and pineapple martinis (a wheel of Babybel decorates the side of the glass) and oyster bombs (Red Bull jelly and Jäger served in an oyster shell).

Southsider's blueberry pancake mule

Still, he’s keen to point out that a sense of fun isn’t at the expense of taste. “We’re not going to put a shit drink on the menu!” he laughs. One of his favourites is the squid ink sour. “It has this gorgeous saltiness and silky texture that really brings out the tequila,” he reckons. Um, yum.

Another unpretentious trailblazer is Southsider Cocktail Club in Clapham. Co-founder Jimmy Drummond says the idea behind the venue was to create a “local cocktail bar for a regular crowd”. But the drinks are far from “regular”, mixed with the likes of chicken salt, atomised tobacco and dehydrated bacon.

 “I was first inspired by Heston Blumenthal,” Drummond admits, explaining that Southsider’s Full English Flip (bacon-infused bourbon with egg and maple syrup) sprung from the chef’s bacon and egg ice cream. Delish.Feeling thirsty? Challenge your tastebuds or just sink a bargain beer with our pick of the city’s cheap drinks.  

Happy hour (2-4-1 cocktails) at London Cocktail Club is on Monday. 
Available all night at at 224 Shaftesbury Avenue, WC2H 8EB  
Tube | Tottenham Court Road   

Happy hour (£5 cocktails) daily at Southsider Cocktail Club, 5-8pm.  
56 Battersea Rise, SW11 1EG  
Tube | Clapham Junction  


The best happy hours in London: Where to find cheap drink deals every night of the week
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