Best for: an old-timey setting and lively jazz
Few bars pull off the speakeasy-style as well as Nightjar. This Shoreditch institution, and one of the best bars in London, is hidden underground, not far from Old Street roundabout, is full of dark, cosy corners, wood panelling and antique trinkets. The drinks list spans decades and celebrates cocktails revived from as far back as the pre-Prohibition era. There’s live music every night from 9pm – a varied roster of some of the best jazz acts in the city who rarely fail to rustle up an atmosphere that’s pure, scintillating fun. There’s a no-standing policy, but that doesn’t mean people won’t be up and dancing in the aisles.
Address: Nightjar, 129 City Road, Hoxton, London EC1V 1JB
Live music: Every night 9pm-9.45pm and 10.15pm-11pm (plus late set 12am-1am on Fridays and Saturdays)
Cover charge: Sunday to Thursday – £6; Friday, Saturday – £10, late session is £6 or an additional £5 if you stay on after the first set
The Social, Fitzrovia
Best for: a party
The Social is a funky, unassuming spot tucked away in an unlikely corner of Fitzrovia. It was set up by a record company in the 1990s, so it comes as no surprise that a major priority of this bar is to provide its guests with great music. Upstairs, you’ll find leather booths, a cheerfully affordable drinks list, and walls covered in work from local artists. But the real party is in the basement, where a seriously impressive list of musicians, from Jack White to The Chemical Brothers, have played. You’ll find anything from club nights to rock bands here – but all guarantee a wild time.
Address: The Social, 5 Little Portland St, Fitzrovia, London W1W 7JD
Live music: most nights
Cover charge: free, some events are ticketed