The bar culture in England is as diverse and spirited as the country’s rich history and culture. From traditional pubs with centuries-old charm to chic cocktail bars pushing the boundaries of mixology, England offers a delightful array of drinking establishments that cater to all tastes and preferences.
These bars serve as vital centres of socialisation and community bonding. From the bustling streets of London to the vibrant cities of Manchester, Liverpool, and beyond, these exceptional bars showcase the art of hospitality, innovation in mixology, and the celebration of both tradition and modernity.
To help you explore the best of the bars in England, we’ve examined 8 of the most popular pubs for locals and tourists.
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History of Bars in England
The history and significance of pubs and bars in England are deeply rooted in the country’s social and cultural fabric, dating back centuries.
Pubs, short for public houses, have a long history that can be traced back to Roman times when they provided food and drink to travellers. However, the concept of an establishment specifically catering to social drinking and communal gatherings truly took shape during the medieval period.
Medieval alehouses and taverns were essential meeting places for locals and travellers. They were crucial centres of communication and socialisation, acting as hubs for news exchange, discussions, and entertainment.
These establishments also played a role in the development of trade and commerce, offering weary travellers a place to rest and enjoy refreshments during their journeys.
With the passage of time, pubs evolved, and their significance in English society grew stronger. During the 17th and 18th centuries, pubs became central to community life, serving as gathering spots for neighbours, workers, and friends.
They were often linked to local customs and festivities, providing a sense of identity and belonging to the communities they served.
Pubs and bars in England have witnessed historical events, including political discussions, literary gatherings, and artistic movements. Renowned writers like Charles Dickens and George Orwell were known to frequent pubs, and some iconic literary works even featured these establishments as essential settings.
The Victorian era brought about further changes to the pub culture, with a rise in the number of breweries. The brewing industry became regulated, leading to the rise of tied houses, where pubs were owned by breweries. This trend continued well into the 20th century, shaping the landscape of pubs and bars in England.
Today, pubs and bars remain integral to English social life, serving as places of relaxation, celebration, and connection. They are spaces where locals and tourists can enjoy a pint of ale or cider, share stories, watch sports, and immerse themselves in the unique atmosphere of English hospitality.
The pub culture has also become an essential part of England’s tourism industry, attracting tourists from around the world who seek an authentic experience of British life and customs. Whether it’s a traditional village inn, a historic city pub, or a trendy urban bar, these establishments continue to provide a sense of community and preserve cherished traditions.
8 Great Bars in England
The American Bar at The Savoy – London
The American Bar at The Savoy is one of the most iconic bars in England and the world. It has a storied past that dates back to the late 19th century when The Savoy Hotel opened its doors in 1889.
The American Bar earned its name due to its popularity among American guests during the Prohibition era, who sought refuge in London to enjoy the pleasures of alcohol.
Throughout its long history, The American Bar has been frequented by numerous celebrities, royalty, and literary figures, solidifying its reputation as a glamorous and sophisticated destination.
The bar’s interior exudes an elegant Art Deco charm. Its polished wood, mirrored panels, and plush seating create a timeless ambience that harkens back to the golden age of cocktails.
The American Bar has been home to some of the most talented and influential bartenders in the world. These skilled mixologists have crafted an extensive and ever-evolving cocktail menu, showcasing their creativity and expertise in blending flavours and spirits.
The bar is particularly renowned for its classic cocktails, especially its signature drink, the “White Lady,” which is believed to have originated here.
The Whiskey Jar – Manchester
The Whiskey Jar, in the vibrant city of Manchester, is one of the best bars in England for whiskey enthusiasts. Situated in the bohemian Northern Quarter, The Whiskey Jar exudes a cosy and welcoming atmosphere, making it a go-to spot for locals and visitors seeking a laid-back yet refined drinking experience.
What sets The Whiskey Jar apart is its remarkable selection of whiskeys from around the world. The bar boasts an extensive and carefully curated whiskey list, ranging from well-known labels to rare and limited editions that cater to both seasoned connoisseurs and those new to the world of whiskey.
With its warm and knowledgeable staff, The Whiskey Jar creates an inviting environment for patrons to explore and savour the complex flavours and nuances of different whiskey varieties.
The venue itself is steeped in history, adding to its allure. The building that houses The Whiskey Jar dates back to the 1800s, and the bar retains some of its original features, adding a touch of nostalgia and character to the space.
With exposed brick walls, wooden beams, and vintage furnishings, the ambience is both rustic and charming, providing an ideal setting to unwind and enjoy a perfect dram.
The Whiskey Jar also hosts regular whiskey tasting events and masterclasses, making it a hub for whiskey education and appreciation in Manchester.
This emphasis on fostering a sense of community and knowledge-sharing has earned The Whiskey Jar a dedicated following of whiskey enthusiasts who come together to learn, sample, and revel in the art of whiskey appreciation.
Berry & Rye – Liverpool
Berry & Rye, located in the heart of Liverpool, England, is one of the most atmospheric bars in England. This speakeasy-style bar exudes an air of mystery and exclusivity because it is discreetly tucked away behind an unmarked door on Berry Street.
The venue’s concealed entrance adds to its allure, transporting patrons back in time to the Prohibition era, when secret drinking establishments were a necessity.
Once inside, visitors are transported to an intimate and charming space. The dim lighting, exposed brick walls, and vintage decor create a cosy and atmospheric setting reminiscent of the clandestine bars of the 1920s.
The ambience at Berry & Rye sets the stage for a unique and immersive drinking experience. It is an ideal spot for those seeking a break from the hustle and bustle of modern life.
At Berry & Rye, the focus is on craft cocktails and mixology. The bar prides itself on its skilled bartenders, who are passionate about their craft and have carefully curated an exquisite cocktail menu.
They use premium spirits, fresh ingredients, and innovative techniques to craft classic cocktails with a contemporary twist and create original concoctions that delight and surprise the palate.
Nightjar – London
Nightjar, nestled in the heart of London, is a world-renowned cocktail bar that takes its patrons on a journey back in time to the golden age of jazz and speakeasies. It is one of the most fascinating bars in England for tourists to experience.
As you step into the bar’s discreet entrance on City Road, you are instantly transported to an intimate and mysterious world, carefully crafted to evoke the ambience of a 1920s Prohibition-era establishment.
The bar’s dark and alluring interior, with its low lighting, vintage decor, and eclectic jazz tunes playing in the background, sets the stage for an extraordinary and immersive drinking experience.
The cocktail menu at Nightjar is a work of art, reflecting the bar’s dedication to mixology and creativity. The talented bartenders skillfully blend premium spirits, house-made infusions, and rare ingredients to concoct a remarkable array of cocktails.
Each libation is presented as a masterpiece, with meticulous attention to detail and exquisite garnishes that add an extra touch of elegance and sophistication.
Nightjar is renowned for its live music performances, featuring some of the finest jazz, blues, and swing bands. The live music adds to the nostalgic atmosphere, creating a captivating and unforgettable night out in London.
The bar’s intimate size ensures that the experience remains intimate and personal, allowing guests to enjoy the music up close and immerse themselves in the jazz-filled ambience.
The Wine Library – London
The Wine Library in London is one of the best bars in England for wine enthusiasts and connoisseurs seeking an exceptional and refined drinking experience. As the name suggests, this establishment celebrates wines from around the world, offering an extensive and carefully curated selection that caters to diverse palates.
Situated in a charming setting, The Wine Library exudes sophistication and elegance. It is an ideal destination for those seeking a sophisticated and relaxing atmosphere to savour the complexities of fine wines.
What sets The Wine Library apart is its commitment to showcasing a diverse range of wines, including both well-known labels and lesser-known hidden gems. The knowledgeable staff is passionate about wine and is always eager to assist patrons in selecting the perfect bottle or glass to suit their preferences.
This personalised service enhances the overall experience, allowing guests to explore new varieties and regions while learning about the nuances of different wines.
The ambience at The Wine Library is warm and inviting, with tasteful decor that creates a cosy and intimate setting. Whether enjoying a glass of wine with friends or savouring a special bottle for a celebratory occasion, the atmosphere encourages relaxation and conversations over a shared appreciation for wine.
Science and Industry – Manchester
Science and Industry, located in the vibrant city of Manchester, is one of the most unique and innovative bars in England. The cocktail bar combines science, art, and mixology to create an extraordinary drinking experience.
The bar takes its name from its theme, which draws inspiration from Manchester’s rich history as an industrial and scientific hub. Nestled in the heart of the Northern Quarter, Science and Industry exudes a stylish and contemporary ambience, featuring sleek industrial decor and design that complements its scientific concept.
Its focus on molecular mixology and experimental cocktails sets Science and Industry apart from the other bars in England. The bar’s talented team of mixologists employ modern techniques and scientific principles to craft inventive and visually stunning libations.
Using tools like centrifuges, vacuum pots, and rotary evaporators, they transform traditional ingredients into innovative and unexpected concoctions that push the boundaries of cocktail-making.
The menu at Science and Industry is ever-evolving, with seasonal and themed cocktails that showcase the bar’s dedication to creativity and craftsmanship. Each cocktail is a work of art, meticulously crafted to provide an exciting sensory experience for patrons.
The bar’s staff is passionate about sharing their knowledge and the stories behind each creation, adding an educational element to the overall experience.
The concept of Science and Industry aligns with Manchester’s spirit of innovation and creativity, making it a favourite destination for locals and tourists seeking a one-of-a-kind cocktail adventure. The bar’s commitment to pushing the envelope and redefining traditional mixology has earned it recognition and acclaim within the global bar scene.
Duke’s Bar – London
Duke’s Bar, situated in the iconic Duke’s Hotel in London, England, is a legendary establishment renowned for its classic martinis and timeless charm. It is one of the most famous bars in England.
Duke’s Bar exudes an intimate and refined ambience. Its wood-panelled walls, leather armchairs, and cosy fireplace form a haven of sophistication and exclusivity within the bustling city of London.
What sets Duke’s Bar apart from other bars in England is its exceptional martinis. They are expertly crafted and served in a manner that has become a signature of the bar.
The legendary “Duke’s Martini” is prepared tableside by the bar’s skilled mixologists, who use a frozen bottle of gin, a splash of vermouth, and a twist of lemon to create the perfect martini tailored to each guest’s preference.
The ritual of creating the martini at the table adds a touch of theatre and elegance to the experience, making it a must-try for any martini enthusiast.
Over the years, Duke’s Bar has become a favourite location for celebrities and notable figures from around the world. The bar’s reputation for impeccable service and discreet exclusivity has attracted a distinguished clientele, including royalty, politicians, actors, and musicians.
With its sophisticated and private atmosphere, Duke’s Bar provides an ideal setting for celebrities to unwind, enjoy a quiet drink, and escape the public eye.
One of Duke’s Bar’s most famous guests was none other than Ian Fleming, the creator of the iconic James Bond character. It is said that Fleming was inspired by the martinis at Duke’s Bar when writing the now-famous line, “shaken, not stirred,” which has become synonymous with Bond’s drink of choice.
Hyde & Co – Bristol
Hyde & Co, nestled in the vibrant city of Bristol, is a hidden gem that evokes the allure of the Prohibition era with its speakeasy-style ambience. It is one of the most exquisite bars in England and a must-visit destination.
Located discreetly behind an unassuming door, this cocktail bar offers a delightful journey back in time to the clandestine drinking establishments of the 1920s. As you step inside, you are transported to an intimate and mysterious world where the dim lighting, vintage decor, and nostalgic jazz music welcome you.
What sets Hyde & Co apart is its dedication to craft cocktails and mixology excellence. The talented bartenders behind the bar are passionate about their craft and take pride in curating an inventive and ever-evolving cocktail menu.
They skillfully blend premium spirits, house-made infusions, and carefully sourced ingredients to create a remarkable array of libations that cater to all tastes and preferences. Each cocktail is a masterpiece, expertly crafted to delight the senses and leave a lasting impression on patrons.
The bar’s emphasis on attention to detail extends beyond the drinks themselves, as the staff at Hyde & Co provide attentive and personalised service to ensure each guest’s experience is nothing short of exceptional.
There are Endless Amazing Bars in England to Visit
The diverse and dynamic bar scene in England offers a rich tapestry of drinking establishments that cater to both locals and tourists alike. From traditional pubs steeped in history to cutting-edge cocktail bars pushing the boundaries of mixology, England’s best bars provide patrons with a unique and immersive experience.
Beyond the libations, the bars in England embrace tradition, innovation, and individuality, ensuring that each visit is a new and exciting adventure. The warm and attentive service and the dedication of skilled mixologists ensure that every patron leaves with an unforgettable experience and a desire to return.
Whether you find yourself in the heart of London, the artistic hub of Manchester, or the charming streets of Bristol, England’s best bars are sure to provide an exceptional journey through the world of spirits, cocktails, and the art of hospitality.
If you want to visit the most unique bars in England, check out these Quirky Bars in Birmingham.