After a few friends asked me for some first date ideas, I knew that there must be a thousands of loved-up Londoners seeking the same advice, especially with Valentine’s Day this week. Having experienced some of the finest bars in the city first-hand, I decided to put together this guide to my top, personal recommendations for first date bars in London. Simply choose what kind of evening you’re seeking, and enjoy yourself!
Cosy Victorian Gin Palace
One of my favourite bars in London, the Worship Street Whistling Shop never fails to deliver. Run by world-class cocktail master Tristan Stephenson, the bar is a veritable wonderland of theatrical cocktail making. Descend the stairs into a secret world of unique flavours, Dickensian decor and plenty of talking points.
Make sure to check out the laboratory at the rear of the bar, and try and blag yourself a cosy table in side room with the candlelit bathtub. I personally went on a first date here, and she’s still with me, so I must have done something right…
Secret Detective Agency
After locating the entrance to this mysterious drinking den in Earls Court, you’ll brief the detective on your case before being let into the bar via a book case…. If that’s got you hooked already then the Evans and Peel Detective Agency is definitely for you.
Expect prohibition style cocktails served from brown paper bags and beers poured straight from the radiator. Perfect for anyone visiting the Natural History Museum beforehand, this quirky bar is definitely one to book a spot in ahead of time.
Devilishly Fun Party Bar
Just off Oxford Street, the London Cocktail Club is the ideal bar to take someone looking for loud music, a chance to dance and a buzzing atmosphere. The cocktails here are freaking awesome, and carefully crafted by expert mixologists.
Despite being busy in the evening I’ve always found a spot to enjoy a drink and a chat here. Expect retro music, great drinks and the chance to get a little closer with your date.
The Bar With No Name
Considered one of the finest cocktail bars in the world, The Bar With No Name – also known as 69 Colebrooke Row – is a top choice for some classy drinks on date night. Their signature (above) is a fascinating take on the Prairie Oyster. Usually consisting of raw egg, Worcestershire Sauce and Tabasco Sauce, 69 Colebrooke have reinvented the classic hangover recipe. The boozy blend of horseradish vodka, shallots, sherry, pepper sauce, celery salt, micro herbs and the all important tomato yolk makes this one drink you need to taste to believe. Always reserve ahead, this place is very popular and very gets very cosy.
Hidden Opium Den
While the secret is out about the Experimental Cocktail Club, China Town’s Opium cocktail bar still retains an air of quiet mystery. The vast, dimly lit cocktail bar looks down on the centre of China Town, hidden from sight with an unmarked door (keep your eyes peeled for the doorman). Once granted access, you are ushered to a quiet spot to tuck into a creative menu of Asian inspired libations. If you get hungry they serve some awesome dim sum too.
Secret Prohibition-Era Mixology
If you’re looking to splash the cash on date night, Nightjar is where you should be heading. Voted the third best bar in the world, I had the opportunity to visit this seriously cool establishment; and it surpassed every expectation. Mixology here is a real art here, and the atmosphere is always buzzing. There’s plenty to talk about if you get nervous, with every new drinks sparking conversation and emitting ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ from surrounding tables.
If you’re really looking to impress, make sure your table is booked during the music; nothing says romance like some toe-tapping jazz, sexy decor and indulgent cocktails.
Cool Craft Spirit Distillery
After a brief visit on the Shake Rattle and Stir ‘Gin Journey’, I got to see the beautiful artisan distillery and bar of the East London Liquor Company. The copper sills throw a golden glow across the whole bar, where you can taste a wide array of cocktails created using spirits produced two metres from the bar. Perfect for a casual date, this Bow Wharf cocktail bar is sure to impress.
From secret speakeasys to distilleries, these fine establishments are my top choices for first date bars in London. Do you have a secret love nest you like to visit on date night? Share your top tips by commenting below.
Looking for an indulgent place to drink a Mai Tai with your paramour? Check out my review of Trader Vic’s.