West End bars guide: Where to get drinks before a show
Tourists and locals come together for few things, but one is for certain: the quest to find the perfect pub or bar. We've done the hard work for you, scouting out where to drink in the West End and across London.
We've listed our favourite watering holes to drink in the capital, from the most affordable places to drinks where you can splash the cash.
5 Greek Street, W1D 4DD
Take a visit to Soho's very own vineyard at 68 and Boston, where you can kick back with drinks from two bars in one place. During the week, sample quality wines at 68 and discover different tastes from across the globe. But, if you're looking for that certain 'je ne sais quoi' from your bar experience, then Boston is the place to be. Once you've got a cocktail in hand, you'll feel as if you're at a 1920s speakeasy, except the drinks are definitely not prohibited here.
The Savoy Hotel, Strand, London WC2R 0EZ
If you're seeing a show at the Adelphi, the Savoy or the Vaudeville, a pre or post-theatre visit to this American bar is a must. The oldest cocktail bar in Britain, the bar has gained a reputation for its musically inspired cocktail selection. Don't just take our word for it, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle even trusted this Savoy bar to come up with a range of custom drinks for their wedding. So, if you're looking to splurge on a treat, then pull up a pew and savour a drink that's got so much soul, it could sing the blues.
12 Old Compton Street, W1D 4TQ
This award-winning, affordable bar really does cater to all customers. Simple drinks are served up top in the daytime in a friendly atmosphere. But, the mood changes when it gets dark, with after-hours aperitifs dished out in a boujee basement below.
13 Kingly Court, W1B 5PW
Take a tube to this London Underground themed cocktail bar, based at the disused Kingly Court underground station. The post-war spirit is well and truly alive at Cahoots, where drinkers mind the gap to sit in carriages with their alcohol of choice. If you don't want to feel like you're on public transport, then pick a table in the control room, where live radio is broadcast from all year round!
Wellington Street, WC2R 0HS
If the likes of Oscar Wilde and John Gielgud were once heading to this intimate Aldwych location for a drink or five, this bar has top-tier theatre prestige guaranteed. Now CellarDoor is a drinking establishment/live performance venue/cinema wrapped up in one, with more drink options behind the bar than theatres in the capital! There's never time to be bored at CellarDoor as each night offers up something totally different — drag queen to karaoke, live music nights to bingo.
Want our drinking recommendation? We'd get one of their signature cocktails from the bar, take our seats, and prepare ourselves for an unforgettable cabaret.
15-16 Gerrard Street, W1D 6JE
What do you get when you cross a Dim Sum bar with a never-ending drinks menu? That's what you can expect from Opium, one of Theatreland's best kept secrets. Pick your drinking poison from one of three sections, including the apothecary bar with a tea parlour section that's perfect for a boozy high tea. Sip on the newest mixes at the quirky academic bar, or will you be brave enough to step through the red curtain and enter the Peony bar?
Belvedere Rd, Royal Festival Hall, London SE1 8XX
On the third floor of the Royal Festival Hall sits a bar. It may seem inconspicuous from the outside, but get ready for these riverside views to take your breath away. Look out over the River Thames and try Skylon's trademark tipple, the Skylon Martini — vodka, apple and ginger never tasted so good. They've even got drinks named after American actors; Audrey Hepburn or Marlon Brando inspired drinks anyone?
Albert Embankment, Lambeth, London, SE1 7SG
Maybe not one for the faint-hearted, Tamesis is a boat-cum-pub permanently moored between Lambeth and Vauxhall bridges. The list of drinks may not be as exhaustive as a pub on land, but what you lose in options, you more than make up for in views. Look up to the Houses of Parliament and the London Eye, just don't get too seasick...
42 Wellington Street, WC2E 7BD
A British boozer right in the heart of Covent Garden may not be on your London bucket list. But, trust us when we say this should take the top spot. For over 250 years, punters have flocked to The Coach and Horses for a pint or two. They claim to have the best beer in the capital too, so even if there's only standing room, make sure to step inside this Irish pub and see what the craic is all about.
15 Denman Street, W1D 7HN
Dating all the way back to 1736, The Queen's Head is just a stone's throw from the Criterion Theatre. Upstairs, there's a cosy restaurant serving traditional pub grub, and with room for just 30 diners, you can definitely escape the hustle and bustle of central London. But, if you're looking for liquid refreshment, then you'll want to try their real ales — they'll quench your thirst.
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