A slightly chichi Hammersmith outfit set in a converted pub with a very pretty (and very giant) terraced garden space. The star feature here is the retractable roof that shields outdoor drinkers from the elements – a pretty irresistible sell when it starts chucking buckets at beer o'clock. Another strong lure? The tasty food on offer at the various pop-up stalls that trade here – this season, it’s burgers from Filth & Co, Latin street food from Boludo or Neapolitan pizzas from Nonna Madonna. They’re even kind enough to keep the footie fans away from the other punters with a dedicated ‘sports room’ that features a giant TV tuned exclusively to whichever big game is on.
14 Lillie Road, West Brompton
Hackney Wick’s warehouse district is home to a gang of cool bars and restaurants housed in former factories – including Crate, a beloved microbrewery overlooking the canal. It produces delicious brews (try the fan-favourite pale ale) and excellent, beer-friendly thin-crust pizzas. Outside is where the real magic happens, though: canny drinkers can snag the suntrap tables on the sizeable terrace, while the rest spill out onto the towpath, pints in hand. These days, it’s walk-in only – but, as always, arrive early.
Unit 7 Queen's Yard, Hackney Wick
German Kraft at Mercato Metropolitano
Germans are so fussy about their beer that breweries in Deutschland are regulated by a so-called ‘purity law’ that ensures their products consist of barley, hops, water, yeast – and that’s it. German Kraft – hidden at the back of Mercato Metropolitano – takes this dogmatic approach to the golden nectar at their on-site brewery, following tried-and-tested techniques that have been perfected over centuries of beer-making in Bavaria. They even distill London’s sub-optimal tap water before mixing it so that its mineral harshness doesn’t sully the lager. You can sample these prized pints on a sprawling terrace – touted as London’s largest beer garden, it’s got space for 500 bums, a legion of heaters for cold eves, and access to the many yummy food stalls of next-door Mercato.
42 Newington Causeway, Elephant & Castle
Lost in Brixton
Betcha didn’t know Brixton Village was home to a hidden upstairs Shangri-La, did you? Track the signs through the bustling market to find this giant, greenery-festooned terrace with a handily retractable roof – an ideal spot for a bit of booze-fuelled respite from the clamour below. The cocktails are ‘Latin-inspired’ (think zhuzhed up margs and caipirinhas rather than watery mojitos), many of the brews are local and the edible titbits are sourced from the wicked joints in the market itself (jerk masters Fish, Wings & Tings, okonomiyaki/goyoza mavens Okan and brilliant burger slingers Black Bear are all repped). DJs are on hand to keep the atmos up if you’ve forgotten how to socialise in lockdown and – a blessing – it doesn’t take bookings for tables less than four, so you can sidle in pretty easily (you just gotta find it first).
Brixton Village, Coldharbour Lane, Brixton
A massive, dual-level outdoor food-hall-cum-magic-garden with a bevy of food stalls and two well-stocked bars. It’s one of the prettier places to drink in the city, shielded by a Perspex roof that’s dripping in leafy fauna and fairy lights. Each season brings a new theme – this time around the vibe is ‘French Riviera’, which means the top deck will be gussied up south-of-France style, complete with bookable beach huts and Moët cocktails. Mais oui. There’s space for 850 here, but we still recommend rocking up early to beat the rush.
4 Kingdom Street, Paddington
The Faltering Fullback
This loveably decrepit boozer is a north London institution that draws droves of good-timers most nights of the week. Inside, the walls and ceiling are decked out in lovely Irish paraphernalia and other random tat. Outside, there’s a spacious, multi-tier space that’s shrouded in tangled ivy, giving it a very ‘Lost Boys hit the secret garden’ vibe. The Thai food on the menu is decent and the beers are well-priced – just watch out for all those stairs once you’re a few pints in. It's currently enforcing a walk-in only policy, but, since this place is mega-popular, it’s advisable to show up early.
19 Perth Road, Stroud Green, Finsbury Park
Nine Lives Alley
The ersatz Mexicana of Nine Lives – a wicked little basement cocktail bar and taqueria set under a railway arch near Bermondsey Street – has been given a welcome blast of fresh air in its new ‘Nine Lives Alley’ guise, spreading out across the cobbles of Holyrood Street. The zinging mixology menu changes daily depending what the bar has gleaned from nearby markets (and ours is a 'Bermondsey Calling' of Tanqueray gin, banana sherbert and minted sherry, just FYI), but frosty glasses of Howling Hops Tropical IPA and super-dry Asahi ‘karakuchi’ lager are a staple. Soak 'em up with a Californian-style taco or five. Booking would be smart, but isn't obligatory.
8 Holyrood Street, London Bridge
Rooftop at The Standard
A brand-spanking-new terrace at the top of The Standard hotel in King's Cross. You’ll find the requisite 11th-floor views of London’s skyline here, plus a brief but thoughtful drinks menu of seasonally appropriate cocktails (Elderflower Collins, please) and Italian wines. If you get peckish, there are vegan and meaty dogs – just pick your sauce and topping combo. Though it accepts reservations at the moment (with some tables set aside for walk-ins), come mid-June, it’s walk-in only.
10 Argyle Street, King's Cross
Bussey Rooftop Bar
Frank’s Café – the now-iconic alfresco bar on top of a former multistorey car-park in Peckham – might have pioneered southeast London's panoramic drinking scene, but the nearby Bussey Building warehouse (and the surrounding Copeland Park complex) has long been the area’s true cultural nucleus. Thus, it seems only fitting that the Bussey has its own, slightly loftier drinking den – open-air but sheltered from the elements, with a swooning technicolour vibe and a menu of mostly classic cocktails to bolster the hazily rousing views of the London skyline. There’s decent pizza for when the booze kicks in, and a provision of walk-in spots for the disorganised (though, like Frank’s it gets absolutely overrun in good weather).
Roof B, Bussey Building, 133 Rye Lane, Peckham
Stumbling distance from both London Bridge station and the natty enclaves of Bermondsey Street, Vinegar Yard is an open-air bar / street food hub / flea market / art gallery mish-mash, not unlike one of those sprawling Euro booze gardens you desire so achingly now we’re grounded in Blighty for the turn of the seasons. Bookings aren’t compulsory but they’re probably recommended, especially if you’re after one of the private, Bacardi-sponsored ‘Rum Shacks' – and eats from swell outlets like Baba G’s Bhangra Burger and the Lebanese-inspired Nik’s Kitchen are as much of a draw as the gallons of draught beer, wine and cocktails. No sour vibes here.
72-82 St Thomas Street, London Bridge