Prices for a decently mixed cocktail often hit the £10 mark, but drinking in London needn't be expensive. Visit one of these bars within their dedicated hours of happiness, and you can sip on a Bellini that won't break the bank, or a Whisky Sour that won't burn a hole in your pocket.
Salvador & Amanda, Covent Garden
Tucked away just down from Leicester Square station, Spanish bar and restaurant Salvador & Amanda is slightly hidden, as all the best places are. The basement bar, with its vines and wooden booths, is reminiscent of a garden. There is a Happy Hour deal on every weekday, 5-7 pm, where £10 can get you two house cocktails or two beers, and £11 pays for a bottle of house red or white, or a litre of sangria. Head down after 8pm on a Tuesday or Wednesday for a live Flamenco to accompany your drinks.
Salvador & Amanda, 8 Great Newport Street, WC2H 7JA (with another branch in Bloomsbury)
With several locations, Spanish failsafe Camino is teetering on a chain, but don't let that put you off. The best site is undoubtedly the Blackfriars restaurant, which has a dedicated wine and cava bar in the basement. Whether you're after a courtyard for warm evenings, or a game of table football to avoid awkward conversation, Camino has it all. With a Happy Hour Monday to Friday, 4-8pm when all draught beers, cocktails and wines are 2-for-1, Camino is a great City spot for a post-work tipple.
Camino, 33 Blackfriars Lane, EC4V 6EP
Shoreditch was bound to feature more than once on this list. The concentration of bars in Hipster Central means that there are a fair few Happy Hours around. Latin-inspired Barrio Shoreditch has some pretty bright, quirky and colourful décor, with timber booths for a spot of privacy, and opportunities for dancing at the Samba or Soul nights. Barrio likes to be individual: rather than have a Happy Hour, the bar runs an Amigo Hour: daily until 8pm, cocktails and beer are £5, and there is also £5 off certain wines.
Barrio Shoreditch, 141-143 Shoreditch High Street, E1 6JE
Covent Garden Cocktail Club
Part of the London Cocktail Club, the Covent Garden Cocktail Club is a tad more exclusive, requiring membership (free, and on-the-day) to enter. Once inside this bar underneath the Arts Theatre, there are deals to be had. Crazy concoctions like a Brixton Riot (lychee and peach martini with a flaming passionfruit), or a Harry Potter inspired Butterbeer, which mixes vanilla vodka with Jack Daniels Honey, caramel syrup and London Pride, are as tasty as they sound. Just £12 for two of these beauties is a no-brainer. Drop by for Happy Hour which runs from 4.30-7pm Tuesday to Saturday, and all day on a Monday.
Covent Garden Cocktail Club, 6-7 Great Newport Street, WC2H 7JB
Known as the 'Englishman's Italian', Bunga Bunga in Battersea offers a mix of karaoke, pizza and cocktails. All night from 6pm on a Wednesday, cocktails are 2-for-1. Favourites such as Cosmopolitans, Mai Tais and Margaritas are tempting, or to be marginally more Italian, an Espresso Martini is a good shout. If a Wednesday doesn't suit you, head there on a Monday, when students and SW11 residents can get pizza for a pound when buying anything else, or Tuesday where a sourdough pizza and a glass of fizz costs just £10.
Bunga Bunga, 37 Battersea Bridge Road, SW11 3BA
Among the crowds of tourists, a Camden side street is hiding a little bar called Boho, a haven of good tunes, British food and drinks deals. Whether you stick to a classic Mojito or go for a stronger Zombie, you can get two for £9 in their Happy Hour, which runs from 4-7pm every day, and all day on Sundays. As well as this, 2-for-1 pizzas on a Tuesday and resident DJs on a Friday and Saturday night make the bohemian bar a popular spot for a night out in Camden.
BOHO Camden, 6 Inverness Street
Very much a 'City' establishment, Patch describes itself as specialising in Happy Hours, if that is at all possible. The Happy Hours are perfect for the after-work crowd, running from 4-7pm every weekday. All wines and spirits have 50% off, or you can get five beers for £17.50. Cocktails are also 2-for-1, and range from the sophisticated Lychee Spritz (vodka, limoncello, lychee and rosecco) to the more gender-specific City Lady (gin, Aperol, raspberries and prosecco). More adventurous are the herb-tinted Basiliscious, which is a gin, basil and tonic concoction, or holiday-inspired Greek Pina, with rum, Malibu, yoghurt liqueur and pineapple juice.
Patch, 58-60 Carter Lane, EC4V 5EA
And now for the chains...
As well as these beauties, London's many chains deserve a mention:
- Be At One offers 2-for-1 in all of its branches across the city,
- Benito's Hat is a solid option if you want a burrito washed down by bargain Margaritas.
- London Cocktail Club's themed bars have quirky drinks at 2 for £12 during their Happy Hour, and often all day on a Monday.
- For the longest Happy Hour we've found, make your way to Las Iguanas (favourite locations are the Spitalfields and Royal Festival Hall sites) for a Latin American night, which has cocktails on offer for 2 for 1 all day every day. Cheers to that.