Take a walk down Mexico way (or, rather to Old Compton Street) and dip into this Mexican restaurant, cafe and bar hiding behind a neon-flashing 'peep show' sign. A notoriously difficult-to-get-into basement restaurant greets you on one side, or walk around the corner and try the cafe, which has much easier, off-the-cuff access. Tequila is the order of the day here, with lashings of maragrita-based cocktails available in abundance. Try passionfruit or grapefruit for a cheek-zingingly delicious and giggly tipple. And, if you get hungry, you're well placed to slam down a taco with that tequila.
Now, we don't often need an excuse to finish our working week with a well-crafted cocktail in one of the capital's many cocktail bars, but this week, there's even better reason for it - all hail London Cocktail Week. With a genuine reason to sip and slurp on our favourite alcoholic concoctions, let us guide you through our regular haunts, and what we drink when we get there (any week of the year).
Stokie stalwarts are keen to protect the identity of this basement bar which was once a Chinese restaurant, but those outside of the clique can find it beneath an illuminated cinema billboard on Stoke Newington Road. A five storey town house used for fashion shoots, you'll find the basement bar candle-lit, antique-y and fashionably dishevelled. Take a seat at the mismatched tables and chairs and choose your poison. With just five cocktails on the menu, it's the presentation here which scores it top points; choose blackberry mojitos served in original 1940's milk bottles or passionfruit bison vodka juleps disguised in enamel tin cups.
A hidden drinking 'den' in China Town, this antique-look 'speakeasy' with exposed brickwork and jazzy wallpaper, will whizz you up a reasonably-priced and lethal cocktail from the many on its well-curated list. We plump for gin-based cocktails when here, with advice from the knowledgeable bartenders and their well-stocked shelves. Email in advance to avoid disappointment (it's very secret, don't you know), and look out for the scruffy front-door (its only calling-card).
Tucked away off the Essex Road, in what looks like an unassuming town house, the bar with no name has something of a 1920s speakeasy vibe without feeling like a bad imitation of Boardwalk Empire. This tiny venue hosts evenings of live jazz, boasts a seriously fine cocktail list and is a grown-up venue just perfect for a few civilised well-crafted tipples. We love the Oh Gosh! a rum cocktail with a lime & lemon twist, or try its latest creation, The Explorer, with Leblon cachaça, fig leaf tincture and lime juice topped up with Perrier water.
One of our most favourite-named bars of all time, this east London late-night drinking den is one 'secret' bar we took great pleasure in finding. You enter via a SMEG fridge in another venue, the Breakfast Club, which reveals a staircase leading to the bar. Once inside, you'll find a quirky space with exposed brick, wood panelling and retro wallpaper adorned with disco balls and moose heads (?!). Perch at the tall wooden tables and try the Lynchburg-Leith Lemonade or the table-made Bloody Mary, created to your very own specification with homemade roasted cherry tomato juice.