Cocktail hour (or entire evening) is tempting, but the problem is cocktails can come at a price. Sure, the Artesian may be one of the world’s best cocktail bars, but you’ll pay £17 for a martini. Ouch. Even in less acclaimed bars you’ll pay around £10 a drink, minimum. There are happy hours all over, but where can you quaff cheap cocktails in London at any time without doing major damage to your wallet? Here are some bars with a good choice for £9 or less.
This basement bar is so popular it can be difficult to get in after 6 pm. The reason? About 60 cocktail varieties listed on a vast blackboard behind the bar, ranging in price from £7.60 to £9.50. A good third are under £8.
Leave work early, bag a seat and try the Aztec (tequila, cacao, vanilla and tabasco).
We’re not going to pretend this Waterloo stalwart is sophisticated or cool, but it sells cracking Cuban street food, and you won’t find a cocktail setting you back more than £6.75 to £9.00 a glass or £18.00 to £25.00 for a jug. Cubana specialises in mojitos, caipirinhas, daiquiris and other sun-soaked drinks. While you’re in the area, check our guide for more cheap and free things to do
3. Little Nan’s
Revel in 1980s Britishness at one of Little Nan’s four leopard-print, swagged-curtain, Eastenders-loving bars. Impressive for a pop-up that emerged at the start of Deptford’s hipster challenge to Shoreditch and Peckham. It’s cocktails in teapots here, each pouring four cups for £24.00–£27.00. At Catford and Deptford you can buy them by the glass for £8.00 or £9.00. Ours is a Sexy Frank Butcher (scotch whiskey, fresh lime juice, fresh root ginger and ginger beer).
Little Nan's Bar - Deptford
There are more teapots at Simmons (teapots are the new jam jars, especially in bars that tend towards the kitsch). Individual cocktails are £9.00–£10.50 – the only exception being the rum-heavy Zombie at £12.00 – but teapots that serve three to four start at £23.00.
There’s also a happy hour from 4 pm to 9 pm offering two of the same drink for £10.00 at Soho, Piccadilly Circus and Oxford Street branches. Cocktail teapots serving three to four people for £15.00 are also available during the Saturday happy hour.
Simmons King's Cross
It’s all about vodka at The Rev, Clapham High Street; there is a small section on the cocktail list for other spirits but vodka is the main event (that and the sharing plate of loaded nachos for £4.75).
Drinks start at £8.25 and only four drinks on their cocktail list come in at more than £9.50. Revolution also has one of the best happy hour deals in London, with two of the same cocktails for £10.00 from 3-7pm. One word of warning though; if you’re there for the live DJ set on Fridays and Saturdays, grab your seat at the bar early as there is a door charge from 7pm.
Revolution Clapham High Street
6. Frank’s Cafe
Now a Peckham institution, but a summer-only one since Frank’s perches on the roof of a multi-story car park. Its specialty is the Negroni, and there is a definite emphasis on Campari. Cocktail prices are £7.00 to £8.50. Just be aware that on weekends it gets so popular the queues can be enormous. There’s plenty of great street food to try while you’re there too.
7. The Tommyfield
A pub that’s definitely on the gastro side, this Kennington venue does cocktails for £6.50 to £8.50 alongside its Shredded Pork Belly Croquettes and Garlic & Thyme Baked Camembert. Stretch out on a leather banquette and savour a Sloe-groni Spritz.
Bonus: it’s a dog-friendly pub.
This laid-back Tuscan trattoria from Polpo co-founder and passionate restaurateur Russell Norman has a stylish all-day bar serving perfect Negronis for £5.00 each. Add a plate of cuddles – deep-fried dough balls, to be torn open and stuffed with the accompanying prosciutto and creamy stracchino cheese – and you could be in for a long, indulgent evening.
Bonus: Speakeasies and Quirky Cocktail Bars
If speeking secret passwords through a peephole, ’30s prohibition styled bars and dressing up tickly your fancy, then have a look at our article on Quirky Cocktail Bars in London.
This post was originally published in March 2017. Last updated: January 2, 2022.