London cocktail and bar specialist Helen Glaberson knows all the top secret cocktails bars in London, and she's here to tell us about eight of the best of them. We won't tell if you don't...
When it comes to date night, what could be more impressive than sneaking through a fridge/mirror/bookcase into a secret bar? And London is thriving with them. Here are eight of the best to check out when you're next out for a tipple in the capital.
1. La Cabina
Credit: La Cabina Facebook
Secret entrance: This Spanish basement party den is hidden behind an unassuming telephone stuck to a door. Tap the secret code on the keypad to gain entry.
Perfect for: Carrying on the party – this place is open until 5am Thursday - Saturday nights.
Nearest tube: Hoxton / Haggerston Overground
Insider tip: These guys do one of London’s latest happy hours, with 2-4-1 cocktails Tuesday to Thursday and Sunday from 8pm - 9pm.
232 Kingsland Rd, Dalston, London E2 8AX
2. Mayor Of Scaredy Cat Town
Credit: Travel Dugong / Flickr (CC)
Secret entrance: It's hidden behind a Smeg fridge in The Breakfast Club café (who do amazing all day breakfasts FYI). To gain entry, ask someone for The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town, and you’ll be led in. To exit however, you must sneak out through the toilets – to avoid letting everyone in on this secret basement bar. See the website for bookings.
Perfect for: This moody little cocktail place is great for impressing first dates (and especially great if they love cats).
Nearest Tube: Liverpool Street
Inside tip: Come along on the weekend to enjoy a secret brunch; just ask for the Hair of the Cat.
12-16 Artillery Lane, Spitalfields, London E1 7LS
3. The Looking Glass Cocktail Club
Credit: Looking Glass Cocktail Club Facebook
Secret entrance: Step into this standard-looking hangout, but then open up a giant mirror to enter a buzzing secret bar, with a highly creative cocktail menu.
Perfect for: A birthday – there’s loads of space in here for a big crowd (plus room for dancing).
Nearest Tube: Bethnal Green
Insider tip: Stick around on the weekends and meet the in-house ‘whipping woman’. Dressed like a dominatrix, she whips everyone who steps inside the bar. It sounds seedy, but don’t be scared off - it’s all tongue in cheek, and definitely something different!
49 Hackney Rd, Hackney, London E2 7NX
4. Basement Sate
Credit: Basement Sate
Secret entrance: Hidden underneath a kinky lingerie shop, you’d never guess this secret bar was there. Look for the sign on the door that says: ‘This Is Not A Brothel’ – and in you go.
Perfect for: This is a cocktail and dessert bar which is great for anyone with a sweet tooth.
Nearest Tube: Oxford Circus
Insider tip: If the sweet stuff isn’t your bag, these guys also have a huge whisky list, with 100 bottles from all over the globe.
8 Broadwick St, Soho, London W1F 8HN
Secret entrance: Look out for a subtle doorway just off the Old Street roundabout. Head downstairs for a classic New York style speakeasy with insane looking (and very delicious) cocktails, set to a backdrop of live jazz and blues.
Perfect for: For a chilled date or drinks with a couple of mates.
Nearest Tube: Old Street
Insider tip: Book ahead for this one. This place is world famous so it books up super quick.
129 City Rd, London EC1V 1JB
6. Evans & Peel
Credit: Evans & Peel Facebook
Secret entrance: Now this is a really weird one. Ring on the door and you’ll get invited down into Detective Peel’s office. Here you need to give details of your ‘case’ that needs to be solved. Once you’ve discussed your case, the detective will push open the office bookcase to reveal a sprawling hidden speakeasy.
Perfect for: Those who love a bit of theatre (don’t worry, no acting skills required).
Nearest Tube: Earl’s Court
Insider tip: Give them some background details about members of your group - it only adds to the fun!
310c Earls Ct Rd, Kensington, London SW5 9BA
7. The Vault
Credit: Milroy's of Soho Facebook
Secret entrance: Enter into Milroy’s whisky shop in Soho and ask to head down to The Vault. You’ll be pointed to a bookcase and left to figure out which book to turn. The right one will swing open the door to reveal a hidden staircase, lit by glowing neon lights. Head down into this dimly lit cocktail chamber.
Perfect for: Whisky lovers – the cocktail menu is seeping in the stuff.
Nearest Tube: Oxford Circus / Tottenham Court Road
Insider tip: Meet the friendly pub dog Chester. He enjoys supping water martinis from the bar.
3 Greek St, Soho, London W1D 4NX
8. Secret Forest Bar @Red’s True Barbecue
Credit: Red's True Barbecue Shoreditch Facebook
Secret entrance: Enter into this American-style rib joint and down the stairs, through a trippy-looking David Lynch-style corridor and through a red curtain. In here is an enchanted forest bar, with a tree sticking out of a piano and a faux starry night sky.
Perfect for: Dinner and drinks with your crew.
Nearest Tube: Old Street
Insider tip: For a London bar the cocktails are pretty reasonably priced, starting at £6.50 for a Strawberry & Elderflower Martini.
54-56 Great Eastern St, London EC2A 3QR