Cocktails & Canvas: London’s Best Arty Bars This Summer

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We all know that the right décor adds that extra sparkle to make an evening truly special. Home to talented mixologists and world-class artists, London knows how to combine delicious drinks with visual experiences for a night to remember. Brighten your summer with cocktails and canvas by heading to the capital’s best arty bars.

Frank's Campari Bar

Frank’s Campari Bar


From rooftop views of the London skyline to cocktails by the Thames, arty pop-ups have a fun, flirty feel that’s perfect to start the evening. Propstore returns this year, one of the best summer bars of 2012. Situated on the vibrant Southbank in front of the National Theatre, the venue is constructed from random props and scenery featured in recent productions. Further south in Peckham, art installation and rooftop cocktail venue Frank’s Campari Bar returns once more from 30 June. Part of the Bold Tendencies Sculpture Project, an enchanting menu of Italian classics including Negroni, Aperol Spritz and Amaretto Sour will have you sipping long past sunset.


Since Baz Luhrmann’s sumptuous film version of The Great Gatsby, Art-Deco has been all the rage this year. Hot on the craze, Quaglino’s in Mayfair installed its very own Martini bar in the basement. The Hutch Club promises alcoholic Popcorn and live jazz, as well as an array of Art-Deco delights for the visual connoisseur. Over in Clerkenwell one of the quirkiest bars in London, Zetter Townhouse, has received rave reviews for its bizarrely quaffable cocktails such as The Flintlock, which contains gunpowder tea tincture and comes served with a flash of light. However, it’s the eclectic décor that makes this place really memorable, an odd cross between a cluttered antiques shop and a 1920s study, complete with vintage furniture and patterned wallpaper.

Zetter Townhouse

Zetter Townhouse


If you’re feeling especially arty, (or the liquor has inspired you to become the next Picasso), then head to somewhere that lets you get in on the action. First up is Paint Jam London, a pop-up social art studio whose next events take place at Transcend Festival in the piazza of Renzo Piano’s Central St Giles complex. Friday 5th July there’s an after-work jam session with painting, a live DJ and drinks, while on Sunday 7th July the Arty Tea Party takes over, a vintage feast of tea, cake, jazz music and a huge blank canvas waiting to be filled. London’s permanent hands-on art destination is the sensational Doodle Bar in Battersea, where you’re encouraged to unleash your creative side.  With the endless scribbling and subsequent giggling, it’s impossible to have a dull evening here.


If you’re in the mood for a sophisticated art experience, The Restaurant at the Royal Academy oozes classic chic. Operated by Peyton and Byrne, the bar is made from handmade brick and lava stone sourced from Mount Etna with an impressive glass installation housing sculptures from the collection. Not far down the road on Shaftesbury Avenue lies one of London’s best kept classic secrets, Freud Café. This Viennese-inspired emporium serves legendary cocktails against the backdrop of rotating art exhibitions on exposed cement walls inspired by the Medieval cloisters of Baroque architecture.

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