At Like Locals, we promise to help you uncover the most secret spots in a city. In part one we gave you a taster of hidden cocktail bars in London where you can enjoy a drink and unwind. However, there are still plenty of surprises in store. Part two will show you some more obscure and unusual spots to add to your boozey bucket list.
During the American prohibition, one Mid-Western state stood up against the blanket ban on booze. So in honour of this, it’s only right that one of the most secretive London speakeasies bears its name. Ok so that’s the Kansas part explained, but where does the Smitty come from. Well, this cocktail bar is the creation of a house jazz band, who inspired with the underground hustle, bustle and hedonism of the roaring 1920s. The interior is rough, and the irresistibly strong cocktails will have you feeling the same way if you don’t pace yourself. This banging cocktail bar is located in the basement of the Off-Broadway cocktail bar in Bethnal Green. Booking is advised as this spot is a favourite amongst the city’s locals.
Details: 63 Broadway Market, E8 4PH | Opening Hours: Tues-Sun, 7pm-midnight.
Tucked away in the heart of Soho is the stunning Kingley Court, inside which is one of Londons coolest cocktail bars. Ok, this spot isn’t as secret as some of the others on the list, but like the cocktails they serve, it still packs a perfect punch. To find the entrance you have to look for a sign that says “To the Trains”. Before you enter the vintage, tube-themed vault of cocktails below, you’ll have to speak with the train guard and let him guide you. This bars platform can get quite packed, so if you want to be taken on a journey into cocktail heaven, be sure to get down early or book in advance.
Details: 13 Kingly Court, W1B 5PW | Open Mon-Wed: 5pm-1am, Thurs: 4pm-2am, Fri: 4pm-3am, Sat: 1pm-3am, Sun: 3pm-12am
Slap bang on Gerrard street is a jaded door behind which lies a cocktail bar, so secretive that thousands walk past it every day without batting an eyelid. However if many people knew about this hidden haunt, Opium, they’d be hooked without a doubt. Once you get past the burly bouncer up the stairs, you’ll feel like you’ve entered a smoking den in central Shanghai. Set over three floors, this eastern-inspired cocktail bar is quite extraordinary. From the music, the decor to the scent of incense permeating your nasal passages. Even the cocktails you order pay homage to the far east, so order off the menu which looks more like a treasure map of tipple. Oh and they also do some fantastic food, the Dim Sum is to die for.
Details: 15-16 Gerrard Street, W1D 6JE | Open Tuesday 5pm-12am, Wed 5pm-1am, Thurs 5pm-2am, Fri & Sat 5pm-3am
If you love uncovering secret spots, then Callooh Callay is quite the treat. Named after a Lewis Carrol poem, this amazing cocktail bar has become the favourite Shoreditch spot for the most in the know night owls of London. Everything about this spot oozes awesomeness. Let’s start with the decor, set in a dimly lit room adorned with Victorianesque furniture, this plays a huge role in creating that fantastic ambience. Throw in a cocktail menu that is nothing short of world-beating. No literally, this spot has won numerous awards including the Best Cocktail Menu at the cocktail equivalent of the Oscars. What’s recommended, well everything. When it comes to cocktails they are always on point, the trouble you’ll have is being spoilt for choice with some many spectacular sips on offer. So with a long night of cocktail consumption to come, get some nibbles to sponge up the booze. It doesn’t just stop there, there is another secret within this secret London cocktail bar. Head to the stylish wardrobe located towards the back of the bar and ask the bartender to let you in. In a scene reminiscent of the Chronicles of Narnia, the wardrobe’s doors hide some stairs leading to the Palace Of Humbug. To find more about the secrets that lie within Callooh Callay, head down yourself and prepare for a mystery filled night of sipping spectacular cocktails. Be warned though, booking is advised, and the secret bar upstairs is invite only after 10 pm.
Details: 65 Rivington St, EC2A 3AY| Open Mon – Sunday 6pm-1am
Ok, so we’ve seen secret entrances behind bookshelves, fridge doors and so much more. However, this secret London speakeasy is nothing short of spectacular. To get inside this amazing cocktail cavern, you have to find an obscure looking phone box on Kingsland Road and dial 2580. Once you get through the secret entrance and down the stairs, you’ll enter a quaint cocktail bar that perfectly fuses London and Spain, evident in the name which is Spanish for a Telephone box. The vintage decor is reminiscent of a typical London dive bar with an infusion of a cosy Bodega. This is also reflected in the food and drink on offer. The cocktails are classics, while the tapas menu adds an element of cross-cultural infusion. The best thing about this spot is the fact that it’s open into the early hours of the morning. So get yourself a classic cocktail and some cracking tapas to soak up the booziness. Combine this with the live music from a local DJ, and you have yourself the perfect late night spot to unwind.
Details: 232 Kingsland Road, E2 8AX | Open Tues-Weds 8pm-3am, Thurs-Sat 8pm-5am, Sun 8pm-3am.