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 more of a garden than a room. Every day of the week from 5pm-7pm, Latin-inspired cocktails are two for £12.50. Try a Spanish Martini, mixed with vanilla vodka, lemon juice, egg white and white chocolate — or keep things simple with a mojito. 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 is there for you. Happy hour is a generous one — Monday to Wednesday, 4pm-midnight when all draught beer, cider, cocktails — plus house wine and cava — are 2-for-1.
Camino, 33 Blackfriars Lane, EC4V 6EP
Bar Story, Peckham
No longer the secret it was, Bar Story has been serving top-notch cocktails from beneath Peckham Rye station since 2013, its attentive bar staff rattling off quality Aviations, spritzes, Brambles, pisco sours and negronis like no one's business. Anytime you rock up, you'll pay well under a tenner, but come any day between 6pm-7pm and it's buy one get one free (of the same cocktail). Stack them up, and order some wood-fired pizza soakage.
Bar Story, 213 Blenheim Grove, Peckham, SE15 4QL
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. Rather than have a Happy Hour, the bar runs an Amigo Hour: daily until 8pm (9pm Sundays and Mondays), classic cocktails including mai tais, clover clubs and caipirinhas are just £6.80 each. bottled Mexican lagers are just £3.50 a pop.
Barrio Shoreditch, 141-143 Shoreditch High Street, E1 6JE
Patch St Paul's
Every inch the City-with-a-big-C establishment, Patch's happy hours are perfect for the after-work crowd, running from 4pm-7pm every weekday. All wines and spirits are 50% off, or you can get five beers for £18.50. Cocktails are also 2-for-1, and range from the sophisticated Lychee Spritz (vodka, limoncello, lychee and prosecco) 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. There's another Patch, called Patch East, nearby.
And now for the bigger chains...
Some of the better-established bars deserve a mention too...
- Be At One offers 2-for-1 drinks 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 two for £12 during their happy hour, and often all day on a Monday.
- Dirty Martinis are scattered across central and east London. Happy hour times depend on the venue, but often go on for half the day, with plenty of half price martinis, and other cocktails. Tip: you don't have to order your happy hour martini dirty.
- There are 15 Simmons venues in London — and most of these slightly cheesy joints offer 2-for-1 cocktails (including Gummy Bear, Strawberry Blonde and Lychee Mar-Tea-Ni) between 4pm-9pm weekdays. Happy hour is 3pm-8pm in Soho, Oxford Street and Piccadilly Circus.