Don't let those first date nerves get the better of you, these spots will give you the dutch courage you need.
Laki Kane - Take your date straight to paradise. Palm prints, carved wooden tables, steel drum serenades and cocktails in coconuts. Plenty of things to get the chat flowing at this Islington bar. Get close in the ‘snuggler’ cage at the back and make your way through the menu. Cocktails are made with house-distilled rums, homemade artisanal syrups and no refined sugar... sweet! Now this is a good time to test if your man is hard enough to handle a Zombie or if this relationship is already the walking dead.
144-145 Upper St, Islington, London N1 1QY
The Vault at Milroys - Let’s be honest, we all know Soho hides a saucy secret or two. It’s why we love it so much. This one isn't quite a secret anymore, but that doesn't mean your date won't be hella impressed as you push pst through the bookcase and enter this hidden bar beneath this killer whisky shop. The bar staff are all chill AF and up for giving impromptu cocktail lessons when the bar’s quiet, but if it's more on the busy side, order a few whisky cocktails and get cosy in the dimly lit corners.
3 Greek St, Soho, London W1D 4NX
Disrepute - This opulent vaulted den is tucked beneath Soho’s Kingly Court and just oozes sex appeal. Yeah, it’s a member’s club, no, they won’t turn you away if you smile sweetly and ask to try the cocktails. Get yourselves nestled in one of the plush pink velvet booths beneath the alcoves and get the measure of your date. The menu here is a series of stories and descriptions to give you a flavour of what you might expect. If he's bold enough to order his cocktail based on their story rather than ingredients shown on the other page, he's a keeper.
4 Kingly Court, Soho, London W1F 9RR
Discount Suit Company - If your date is a City boy, arrange to meet him after work and take him to Petticoat Lane for a night of cocktails in this intimate spot. The candlelight and filament light bulbs will help you navigate the menu. Cosy into the leather sofa or sit close at one of the high tables and give them all a try.
29A Wentworth St, Spitalfields, London E1 7TB
Well, they say the way to a man's heart is through his stomach...
Vagabond - Nothing sucks more than opting for a pricy bottle of wine and then finding it tastes like vinegar; even worse if your date turns out to be a kn*b and you've already invested £40 into a bottle. Hopefully, the latter won't be the case, and this place has the former covered. It has an awesome collection of Enomatic wine machines, which host up to 100 wines of every variety, all of which you can check out in 25ml samples before you decide to go official with one. Load up your tab card and make your way around each bottle to create your own wine tasting experience together. And don't forget to order one of their killer charcuterie boards so you don't peek too soon.
77 Buckingham Palace Rd, Westminster, London SW1W 0AJ
Dans Le Noir - This is no ordinary dining experience, and if you really wanna get to know your date without the distraction of their handsome face, you gotta give this one a go. This restaurant has you dining in complete darkness. And not the kind you get used to; we're talking darker than your ex's heart. After you're lead into the dining room by a member of the team, your food is brought to your table and its down to your tastebuds to work out what it is you're eating. Don't be afraid to get in there and use your fingers. Wanna ask your date something mischievous without them seeing you blush? Nows your chance!
30-31 Clerkenwell Green, Farringdon, London EC1R 0DU
Gordon's Wine Bar - Did someone say ‘date night’? This is classic pulling territory if you’re trying to impress someone who likes wine, cheese, and dark damp spaces. Channelling a little bit of the ‘Ello ‘Ello French resistance vibes, it’s a subterranean cellar bar that’s hella popular with tourists and locals alike. Chances are if you've both been living in London for a while, you've both already been here on a date or two. But hey, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. If he's tall, he'll need to duck, but once you've settled down in one of the candlelit corners you can tuck into the cheese & charcuterie alongside a bottle of vino or two.
47 Villiers St, Charing Cross, London WC2N 6NE
Time to check out your dates roleplay skills, though best keep your nurses outfit at home (for now, at least...)
Evens & Peel Detective Agency - Time to get creative with the truth as you try and blag your way into Evans & Peel. Channelling all the fun of 1920s Prohibition, combined with a little Cluedo sleuthing, this detective-agency fronts a super-slick bar. Vintage typewriters, taxidermy animals and apothecary drawers give a real sense of period charm - ideal if you’re unleashing your inner Miss Scarlett. Just make sure you make an appointment.
310c, London SW5 9BA
The Bletchley - If like BarChick you're a bit of a sucker for a man in uniform, you need to get your date to Chelsea, quick march! Head into the basement of The World's End to find a room filled with decoding machines and special cocktails to take you back to a Britain in peril, complete with uniforms to really get you into your Secret Agent roles and ready to crack some codes. Your motivation? Completely unique cocktails based on your profile and designed to suit your tastes. Agent BarChick reporting for duty!
459 King's Rd, Chelsea, London SW10 0LJ
Alcotraz - Time to see if you have found the Clyde to your Bonnie. Grab your partner in crime and a bottle of your fave spirit and smuggle it into this immersive bar. Here's hoping you and your date look good in orange cos the infamous prison jumpsuit is mandatory. You won’t find a set menu of drinks here…after all, it is prison! Alcotraz creates a range of tailored cocktails every night based on the liquor you bring and your tastes. This is a great moment to work out if your fella has good taste in spirits... if he rocks up with a bottle of Glenns Vodka it might be time to look for a new cellmate.
212 Brick Ln, London E1 6SA
He's definitely hot when the lights are low, but how does he fare in the cold light of day?
Draughts - You don't really know someone until you've played them at a board game. Are they are a dirty cheat or a sore loser? Draughts will help you work it out (and possibly save you a few tantrums at Christmas) This place is a stone’s throw from Haggerston station, tucked away in one of the railway arches. It's all cosy exposed brick walls, plenty of tables to sit at, and an entire wall stacked with hundreds upon hundreds of board games. Combine some fast-paced tabletop strategy games and booze and you'll be able to waste the day together. Just avoid the Monopoly if you like the guy. No-one can be held responsible for their actions with that game.
Draughts, 337 Acton Mews, E8 4EA
Terrace Bar at The Tate - After a few hours of mooching around The Tate Modern, pausing at ginormous canvasses, nodding at the bright paint blob splattered across it while internally screaming "but what does it meeeaaaaan?!", it's time for a drink. The Terrace Bar is on the first floor and it's good for wine, cocktails and especially beer, so if your fella is big into his IPA's, he'll love this place. They even have a beer inspired by Van Gogh's The Starry Night. That's our kinda art.
Blavatnik Building, Level 1, Tate Modern, Bankside, London SE1 9TG
God's Own Junkyard - This psychedelic utopia of neon lights and vintage signs is probably the closest you can get to the blazing lights of Vegas this side of the pond. Find it hidden inside an unassuming warehouse in deepest (not so) darkest Walthamstow. Late owner Chris Bracey, the ‘Neon Man’, got his start by making signs for Soho’s strip clubs and brothels, but the lights caught the eye of Hollywood (they're bright enough!) and he began fashioning props for directors such as Stanley Kubrick, Tim Burton, and Christopher Nolan. Grab your date's hand and see if you can find any props from your fave films, and then once your eyes have started to go square, head to the laid-back cafe where you can grab some Wild Card beer (pale, ruby, stout, IPA) from the fridge, or a coffee and slice of homemade sponge.
Gods Own Junkyard , Unit 12 , Ravenswood Industrial Estate, Shernhall Street, London, E17 9HQ