In this guide we take a look at some of our favourite cocktail bars in Kensington. Whether you’re looking for somewhere to enjoy some afternoon tea while sipping on your drink of choice, a quirky and Instagram famous nightlife spot to show off to friends or family or just an elegant venue to enjoy some live music, we’re confident we’ve found just the place.
If you’re anything like us then you’re celebrating the reopening of hospitality venues with a catch-up or two, and what better way to spend not the summer in West London than with friends, some great grub and the long-overdue atmosphere of a bustling cocktail bar.
187 Kensington High Street W8 6SH
Balans Soho Society started life as a sandwich bar on Old Compton Street and quickly made a name for itself thanks to its late night opening hours. And then it found its way to Kensington High Street, where you can still find that Soho/boho vibe from breakfast till midnight… The design – which incorporates a tree into the middle of the restaurant – stems from the vision of Simon Costin, who made his name creating outlandish fashion shows for Alexander McQueen. And the cocktails? Thyme for Tea with wild tea-infused Moskovskaya vodka, elderflower liqueur, ginger and thyme, or the Blueberry Banger with Ron Abuelo rum, blueberry, lime and ginger beer. Yup, we have a thing for ginger…
Chelsea Cloisters, 87 Sloane Avenue SW3 3DW; 020 7581 3355
Many come to this secret Chelsea drinking den for the 1920s-themed experience – step through a clandestine entrance to find an intimate, plush-red speakeasy adorned with old paintings and antique lights, bar stools and stuffed animal heads – but, great character aside, the real reason to come is for the killer cocktails and extensive selection of craft beers. The excellent bartenders can hustle you up a fresh concoction using herbs from the bar’s own garden, or try absinthe poured over sugar cubes for an instant fix. For groups, there are sharing beverages like The Mad Hatter (Russian Standard vodka, spiced berries and apple, topped with Prosecco) and cocktails served from large teapots. The Perique Tobacco cocktails are outstanding: the most expensive at £20 is Smoke Screen, which is made with Perique Tobacco liqueur, Dewar’s 18 Y. O. Scotch whisky, Angostura bitters, orange and sugar, served in a Dewar’s Signature box filled with apple-scented tobacco and chocolates or cheese and honey.
35B Kensington High Street, Kensington W8 5EB
Zuaya on Kensington High Street is a Latin American restaurant and bar with a real wow factor. Shortlisted in the Restaurant & Bar Design Awards, as well as for Best Bar or Restaurant in the Kensington and Chelsea Business Awards, it is hard not to be seduced by Zuaya’s elegant marble-topped bar and signature cocktails. One of the most popular cocktails is the London To Lima, Zuaya’s interpretation of the classic Pisco Sour. There’s also a restaurant downstairs with beautiful design features including moss walls. Zuaya’s Head Chef, Francisco Lafee, who has previously worked in Michelin-starred restaurants has crafted inventive Latin American and Spanish tapas.
92b Old Brompton Road SW7 3LQ; 020 7225 1899
Albert’s is a place for Kensington & Chelsea locals to kick back in. ‘We wanted something here. A lot of people don’t like trekking to Mayfair anymore,’ says co-founder Carlo Carello. ‘I wanted somewhere in the vicinity of South Kensington, I was brought up down the road, so I know the area well – we know most of the residents and businesses.’ To be a part of Albert’s crowd, you will need to pay a £250 joining fee and a £500 annual subscription, with a few local souls (250) being able to become life members at a cost of £2,500. ‘The reason we charge membership is so we can offer a much more personal service. The attention to detail is key. Compared to other clubs we have three times as many staff. We will be the first member’s club to have a Rolls Royce chauffeur driven service.’
Looking for somewhere to stay close by? Check out our aparthotels in London.
41 King’s Road SW6 2EB; 020 3397 3739
This is the place for a bespoke fruity cocktail on a summer’s afternoon. If you’re yet to taste a jam cocktail – where have you been? – start with the classic Jam Mojito: Bacardi Gold rum stirred with fresh mint, lime and raspberry jam. From here, there’s a wide-ranging menu of interesting mixes to further tantalise your tastebuds. Try The Damson in a Dress in which the Martini Bianco vermouth cuts through the sweet lime jam sublimely. If you’re eating with drinks, skip dessert for the Peanut Butter and Jelly Time, a heady saccharine mix of vanilla vodka and Baileys with strawberry and peanut butter. It’s also worth taking a peek at the Bloody Mary drinks menu, which features a hot-spiced Wasabi Mary and a Bloody Spicy, made with hot pepper sauce, Tabasco, cayenne pepper and fresh horseradish – not recommended for the faint-hearted!
62 Lower Sloane Street, Chelsea SW1W 8BP
The recently opened Sloane Place is a new restaurant and hotel in Chelsea with a lower ground floor cocktail come wine bar. Open for daytime drinks (cheeky!) and late night cocktails every day of the week, the bar serves classic cocktails from whiskey sours to Manhattans and negronis, as well as Sloane Signatures ranging from the Diplomatic (Diplomatico Mantuano rum, Fernet Branca, angostura bitters, homemade orange syrup and a chocolate & orange wheel), to the Aperol Kiss (Aperol, Campari, fresh lemon juice and gomme syrup), Grapefritz (Aperol, fresh pink grapefruit juice, fresh lime juice, elderflower syrup and prosecco), and the Sloane Fashion (Bulleit 10 burbon, homemade orange syrup and angostura bitter). You can grab a few bar bites too, such as crispy squid and beef teryaki gyoza and even these hotel bar bites will rival some of the best restaurants in London you’ll likely to visit. There’s also a private roof terrace on the first floor offering a full all-day dining menu and cocktails, alongside beautiful views of Chelsea.
109-113 Queen’s Gate, South Kensington, SW7 5LP
The K Bar is the epitome of an elegant cocktail bar in kensington with an ambience and style to match. The art deco decor is a sophisticated welcome for guests whether frequent members or first time visitors. The cocktail list has been expertly curated by in-house mixologist and. Whether you’re staying close by or planning an afternoon visit to Kensington and in search of a unique watering hole, you can’t go too far wrong with The K Bar.
20 Kensington Church Street, W8 4EP
The original Dirty Bones opened in 2014, seven years on and the cocktail bar come private lounge has expanded to an additional four locations including a spot in Shoreditch. Dirty Bones Kensington is a real hidden gem, so much so, the lounge can only be entered via a retro fridge. Open 7 days a week, Dirty Bones also serve up a Bottomless Brunch come weekends and for that reason alone it had to make our round-up of the best cocktail bars in Kensington.