From classic concoctions to something a little experimental, some of London’s finest cocktail bars are at King’s Cross.
You’ll find Sweetwater in Goods Way, one of London’s coolest hangout spots, with a street food market, a live music venue, and a cracking basement cocktail bar all under one roof.
The bar is inspired by travels in New Orleans, part saloon, part speakeasy, and just oozing with a laid-back charm. The excellent drinks menu has a few inventive options, plus plenty of whiskey-based cocktails for the purists looking for that true Southern flavour. Grab a drink here after catching a gig upstairs in Layfette.
Try: Watermelon Man, a smoky-sweet blend of tequila, mescal and watermelon syrup. Head down to 11 Goods Way King’s Cross.
The Permit Room at Dishoom
Prepare to be transported to colonial-era Bombay – this Indian eatery is styled after the Irani cafés that were once part of the fabric of life in the city. The food has people queuing up most nights of the week. However, the basement bar, The Permit Room, is worth a visit in its own right. Here the “daru-wallah” mixes some wonderful concoctions in the dimly-lit space.
The drinks are inspired by the pre-prohibition scene in Bombay, and the menu sings with traditional ingredients – cardamom, Chai syrup and fiery ginger. Choose from slings, coolers, fizzes, flips and fancies, served over hand-chipped ice and ordered by the ‘peg’ – the traditional Indian liquor measure.
Try: Chai Paanch. Lemon shrub with Johnnie Walker Black Label, House Chai, Gosling’s dark rum, and two liqueurs: one ginger, one 80% cocoa. Dishoom King’s Cross is at 5 Stable Street.
This is a café by day, bar by night affair, but really, Spiritland is all about the music. The sound system is billed as one of the best in the world, and the music programming is brilliantly eclectic. You’ll hear everything from dance music to reggae, country to jazz, every night of the week except Mondays.
The cocktails are uncomplicated and well-executed – gin is soothed with grapefruit and elderflower, rum is deepened with smoked rosemary and dark chocolate. If you’re going alcohol-free, ask for the mocktail of the day. Don’t think you’ll be heading here to hit the dancefloor though, instead, the best way to experience Spiritland is to sip slowly, hang out and enjoy the soundtrack.
Try: Rhubarb Spagliato. East London dry gin, rhubarb, rosé, fizz and umami. Find Spiritland at 9 – 10 Stable Street.
Inspired by the Grand Cafés of Italy, France, and Spain, Vermuteria is a delightful all-day eatery and bar in Coal Drops Yard. In that typical European style, Vermuteria is best enjoyed at a leisurely pace, ordering small plates of light Cicchetti, cheese, and charcuterie alongside a cocktail or two.
Vermouth is a signature here, and it takes centre-stage in the form of simple aperitifs, and as a base for the cocktails. There is an extensive collection – at least 30 different varieties – both in vintage bottles as well as new artisanal crafted Vermouths from all over Europe. The considered cocktail list navigates the various vermouths for you. Choose from a classic, such as a Diplomat or Garibaldi, or try one of the varieties of the Milano-Torino, which was invented in 1860 and led to the now-popular Negroni. For something truly iconic, opt for one of the drinks of their Vintage menu.
Try: Negroni & It: chamomile infused Tanqueray 10, Maura Vergano Americano, and Angostura Bitters. Vermuteria is located at 38/39 Coal Drops Yard.
Supermax is the late-night, subterranean cocktail bar from the team behind Spiritland.
The cocktails are vermouth-led and the decor is all curved edges, mirror balls and soft neon. Don’t mistake it for kitsch, though: the atmosphere at is fun, funky, and glamorous. In fact, their after-work Aperitivo Hour was named ‘London’s coolest happy hour’ by Time Out. The music is top-notch, as you’d expect, as is the sophisticated cocktail list, packed with modern twists on old classics.
Try: Marsala Fix. Rum, honey wine, lemon, marsala. Supermax is at 14 Handyside Street. You’ll have to look hard to find it, but once there, you won’t want to leave.
The Meister Bar at German Gymnasium
D&D London has done the seemingly impossible and made dining and drinking in this former Victorian gymnasium feel intimate. By carving the cathedral-like building into a series of softly lit spaces, they’ve created a stunning venue that was recently voted the world’s most beautiful restaurant.
If you’re just visiting for drinks, then head straight upstairs to the Meister Bar. Here dramatic vaulted ceilings and sumptuous leather booths set the scene. Fancy an around the clock cocktail? The new cocktail menu is inspired by different times of the day; from light to dark and day to night. Settle into the beautiful surroundings and watch the hours slip away as you succumb to the talent and imagination of the mixologists.
Try: High Noon. Sundried tomato-infused Cocchi Torino, plum saké, Tio Pepe dolin dry vermouth, clarified tomato and olive bitters. German Gymnasium, 1 King’s Boulevard.
This perfectly-located pub and restaurant spans the entire edge of Granary Square on one side and Regent’s Canal on the other.
With floor-to-ceiling windows and outdoor seating on three levels, the views are hard to beat. The super friendly staff are on hand to help navigate the cocktail menu, which is pleasantly quirky. The Breakfast Old Fashiones, for example, lists Granola infused Monkey Shoulder as one of its core ingredients, topped up with bitters – interesting, but yummy. All the classics are available, but where’s the fun in that?
Try: Smoked Pink Peppercorn & Juniper – Martini vodka, pink peppercorn, juniper berry and vermouth. The Lighterman is at 3 Granary Square.
Granger and Co.
This bright, airy all-day eatery has full-height windows looking out onto Pancras Square. The setting is cheerful and the decor draws inspiration from ltalian train stations of the 1980s – with terrazzo floors, a wood-panelled ceiling, retro lamps and elegant leather banquettes. On sunnier days, the little piazza is a lovely spot for al fresco drinks.
The cocktails are deliberately stripped back – simple combinations designed to make the ingredients sing. Think gin with raspberry and lemon, and tequila topped up with grapefruit and coriander. The ingredients are well-sourced and fanatically fresh, resulting in some really exciting flavours.
Try: Passiflora Fizz. Kombucha, Aperol and passion fruit. Granger and Co. is in the Stanley Building, 7 Pancras Square.
If you fancy the kind of night that sees a group of friends gathered over delicious cocktails and sharing some truly memorable mezze, Arabica’s buzzy restaurant on Lewis Cubitt Walk could be just the ticket.
Order as many of the dips and nibbles from the Levantine-inspired menu that you think you can handle, then peruse the cracking cocktail list. Cocktails have also have been influenced by the middle-East: peppered with saffron, cardamom, and rosewater, they capture the perfumed waters, smokey-sweet flavours and intoxicating spices that define the regions’ dishes
Try: Turkish Delight. Vodka, hibiscus liqueur, strawberry & rosewater jam with vanilla aquafaba. Arabica is at 7 Lewis Cubitt Walk, a stone’s throw from Coal Drops Yard, at the base of the Aga Khan Building.
hicce sits on the upper level at Coal Drops Yard and is a beautifully airy, light-filled space. In the kitchen is the formidably talented Pip Lacey, best known for her time in Michelin-starred Murano. When the food shows such creative brilliance, the cocktails have to be able to hold their own – which luckily, they do.
Look for the delicious Machagras, an infusion of shiso gin, matcha tea, lemongrass & aquafaba that made the world top 100 cocktails in 2019! The cocktails list is short, sharp, and fresh, much like the drinks themselves. Instead of relying on a cacophony of sugar syrups, the drinks allow naturally flavoursome ingredients – passionfruit, lime, mint – to sing through. Shaken, stirred and infused with exciting Japanese elements (think sake, yuzu, matcha and hibiscus) and you have cocktails that, as The Guardian’s Grace Dent attests, are simply “marvellous”. On summer days, hicce is a treat, with spritzes, sunshine and their Sunday Sundowner DJ sessions to see the week out in style.
Try: Bagleys, 13.0 don julio reposado, campari, passionfruit and grapefruit sherbet. Find hicce above Wolf & Badger 102 Stable Street, Coal Drops Yard.
For a taste of retro glamour, step into Lina Stores, where the mint green and retro fixtures evoke a chic mid-century Italian café.
The cocktails are a stylish twist on Italian classics, with Negroni, Amaro Sour, and various Spritzes all making the roll call, packed with fresh ingredients in intriguing combinations. Plus, Lina Stores boasts some of the most delicious alcohol-free cocktails in Kings Cross.
Try: Ditch the usual Campari or Aperol Spritzes and opt for a Limoncello Spritz. Wild oregano infused Limoncello, prosecco, and Soda. Find Lina Stores at 20 Stable Street.
The bar at Caravan
Caravan combines a stripped-back industrial aesthetic with a bustling open kitchen. Come for the buzzy atmosphere, the people-watching (Central Saint Martins is in the building) and a cracking playlist to accompany your drinks.
The drinks list is surprisingly well-stocked, and a nice complement to its ‘well-travelled’ food menu. There are a few familiar favourites, but we suggest you skip those and try some of the more unconventional options. You’ll find cocktails infused with caribbean spice mix, sage, toasted cumin and delicious morello cherries. It’s well worth being adventurous.
Try: Body & soul. Italicus bergamot and rose, rhubarb, ginger, lime and shiso leaf. Find Caravan, at 1 Granary Square.
GNH Bar & Terrace
If you’ve just stepped off the train at King’s Cross, you don’t have to look far for a great cocktail bar. The glamorous GNH bar opens directly onto the station concourse. The bar is part of the revamped Great Northern Hotel, a luxury boutique hotel that first opened its doors in 1854, and was the work of Lewis Cubitt, the architect of many of the iconic buildings at King’s Cross.
The bar welcomes travellers from breakfast through to dinner with a decadent bar menu of champagne and cocktails served until late. Glittering chandeliers and moody decor evoke early 20th Century Paris. The styling includes a gorgeous corridor resembling a vintage train – find it on the way to the loos! The drinks list captures the hotel’s characterful heritage with the Lady Violet, a notorious resident from the hotel’s glory days.
Try: Fleurissimo, an extra refreshing gin spritz. The Botanist dry gin, Aperol, peach liqueur, plum cordial topped with soda water. Find the GNH Bar & Terrace inside the Great Northern Hotel, Kings Cross Station.
Drake & Morgan
Head down the stairs from the main dining room and you’ll find Drake & Morgan’s destination bar. Perfect for an after-work, choose between the list of timeless classics, D&M Garden cocktails, or something unexpected from The Crown Jewels list. Don’t plan to call in for just one though.
On the menu are ‘sharers’ and ‘punches’ designed for two or four people, and the accompanying bar food calls for a crowd, with five varieties of heaped sharing platters. Cocktails continue to flow at the weekend.
Try: Flowers of the Ocean. Tidal rum, Everleaf marine, lime, sugar and spirulina. Head to Pancras Square to find Drake & Morgan.
Searcy’s Champagne Bar
On the Upper Concourse of the stunning St. Pancras Station sits hidden gem, Searchy’s Champagne Bar. Whether you are being whisked away for a romantic weekend in Paris, or just heading home from work on a rainy Friday, upgrade your commute with a stop at this elegant, art-deco inspired Champagne and oyster bar.
Searcy’s is the longest champagne bar in Europe and offers a breathtaking view of the historic station. There is (naturally) a huge range of champagne, as well as classic cocktails. But really, you can’t leave without opting for a cocktail with a little fizz – just hit the ‘press for champagne’ button in one of the stylish booths for service.
Try: Paloma Royale. Patrón Reposado tequila, grapefruit juice and Champagne. Fancy the fizz without the buzz? Go for a Lychee Breeze: Lychee purée, cranberry juice, lemon and Franklin & Sons soda water. Searcy’s Champagne Bar is inside St. Pancras International Station.
Granary Square Brasserie
What makes a great cocktail bar? What ingredients are making waves in the cocktail world? and, most importantly, what should we order at the bar? All these questions and more were put to William Beatty, bar manager at Granary Square Brasserie by food writer Rebecca Seal. Read the interview, and discover why he thinks London is the best place in the world to have at tipple…
Try: Granary Glitz – Malfy blood orange gin, Italicus Bergamot liqueur, maraschino cherry syrup and Jeio prosecco. Granary Square Brasserie is at 1-3 Stable Street.