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 cocktails at any time without doing major damage to your wallet? Here are some bars with a good choice for £8 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 clocking at £6.50 to £8.50 a glass or £16 to £23 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–£27. At Catford and Deptford you can buy them by the glass for £8 or £9. 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). While individual cocktails are £9.50–£10, teapots that serve three to four start at £23.
There’s also a happy hour from 4 pm to 9 pm offering two of the same drink for £10 at Soho, Piccadilly Circus and Oxford Street brances. Cocktail teapots serving three to four people for £15 are also available during the Saturday happy hour.
Simmons King's Cross
5. The Chelsea Pensioner
Simmons is also responsible for this bright and modern pub-slash-bar on Fulham Road where normal price cocktails are all under £8, with most in the £5.50–£6.5 range. That’s before the even-better-value happy hour between 5 pm and 8 pm daily. Then shoot some pool, relax in the courtyard and, if you’re lucky, say hi to the cats.
The Chelsea Pensioner
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 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 £6.25 to £8.50 alongside its Shredded belly pork 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.
8. Three Eight Four
Thank god for Three Eight Four, saviour of a night out in Brixton when it’s getting late and pennies are running out.
It’s a cosy drinking den where your drinks may come in pewter tankards, and the cocktails are on the smokey and savoury side. Most drinks come in around £8.
Three Eight Four
This post was originally published in March 2017. Last updated: June 17, 2021.