You can do better than the fag-ridden pavement outside your local Irish pub. If the sun is shining make this treasure map your guide; these are ten of the best al fresco drinking holes in town.
Styx, Tottenham Hale
Tottenham is 2018’s cool new night out thanks to a great new venue (Five Miles), excellent tap rooms (Pressure Drop, Beavertown) and two new pubs (High Cross, The Bluecoats) but it’s the alternative bar and venue Styx that provides the best outdoor fun. Their almost festival-like yard often hosts barbecues and live music and always promises a chilled, fun-loving feel.
The Faltering Fullback, Finsbury Park
An oldie but a goodie. Prepare to be wowed by a pub garden that must be the lovechild of Charlie Dimmock and M C Escher. A network of terraces curls upwards in such a complicated system of decking, steps, benches and even little grottos that it can take days to locate your friends. Somehow this gets easier after a couple of pints from the busy but friendly Irish bar indoors.
The Gardening Society, Oxford Circus
As well as high-quality kitchenwares and bedding, the Oxford Street branch of John Lewis offers a rooftop bar and restaurant, and it’s an absolute treat to hang out in. Kitchen garden beds and other greenery make for a surprisingly ‘secret garden’ feel, food this summer is from fried chicken favourites Butchies and there’s free live music several times a month.
Queen Elizabeth Roof Garden, South Bank
The Eden Project helped to build this off-the-radar garden that you’ll find at the top of the Southbank Centre’s bright yellow staircase. The café serves coffee, cake and sandwiches as well as drinks and its open every day until 10pm during summer. Who’d have thought you could so easily combine booze, bees and a bird’s eye view of the Thames?
Frank’s Café, Peckham Rye
This place is probably the reason that you first visited Peckham. Now South East London’s so cool you can’t afford to buy there, and Frank’s is as much the heart of it as ever thanks to the addition of several floors of food traders (Peckham Levels) and very social media-friendly pink paintwork. And up top? The queues are still big, the loos are still gross, and even the luminous orange spritzes can’t beat the incredible sunset view.
Flat Iron Square/Omeara, Borough
For an area so famous for its food it’s weird that good bars in SE1 are few and far between. It gained its first (good) club in Omeara just a year and a half ago, and since then the venue’s won over music fans and local residents alike. The development it’s a key part of, Flat Iron Square, is a swell place to stop for a pint and a snack on a sunny evening, and O’Meara’s own roof terrace is a well-hidden treat for the nightlife lovers of Borough.
Giant Steps, Hackney Wick
From the team that brought us last year’s Houghton Festival (which Resident Advisor called a ‘rave utopia’), Giant Steps is the brand-spanking-new east London waterside terrace and indoor music venue that you need to be seen at. The collaboration by Brilliant Corners and Analogue Foundation will offer up natural wines, craft beers and cocktails to wash down the barbecue food from the likes of Morito and Brawn, plus a truly incredible soundsystem.
Dalston Curve Garden, Dalston Junction
Dalston Roof Park may get all the trendy sunseekers, but it’s hella busy and you have to pay to get in. Just a block away is this community garden with a very low-fi but welcoming bar. It’s a leafy, cheerful little corner of otherwise rowdy and gritty Dalston. The wealth of trees also means that even those who require factor 50 from Spring onwards can enjoy an al fresco bevvy without reapplying.
The Prince, Earl’s Court
It’s only been open six months but The Prince has truly upped Earl’s Court’s party game. It’s a sort of network of bars and food venues (this is your chance to get Thai food from Peckham institution Begging Bowl without the trek south-east) with a vast roof terrace that’s unsurprisingly popular in good weather. But you can book ahead! And you don’t even need to cancel if the weather’s looking threatening as the place has a Wimbledon-level plan B: its retractable roof.
The Old Ship, Hammersmith
Though on paper this pub’s as trad as a mead-swigging morris dancer, The Old Ship is an institution that’s willing to move with the times. A 2018 renovation (presumably funded by the billions they must earn on Boat Race day each year) has left its heated riverside terraces looking mighty fresh. Choose from an impressive array of gins and claim a picnic table to enjoy a hazy sunset across the Thames.