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Cheap Drinks: Champagne Taste, Beer Money?

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at City London chapter.

I have lived in London for my entire twenty years of existence, and have finally whittled down my favourite watering-holes. However, these are not places I like to call on to enjoy a pint of Stella Artois overlooking the Thames, or a large glass of Sauvignon-Blanc in a dimly-lit West end bar. These are vibrant, innovative, seductive cocktail bars.

Cocktails are the essence of the glamorous, cosmopolitan, ‘work-hard-play-harder’ woman of the 21st century, and usually come with a hefty, (and not always worth it) price tag. While enjoying a Boston Cobbler at Milk & Honey is idyllic, it will leave the average students’ piggy banks squealing. So, a solution.

Pop down to your local cheap-and-cheerful, well known public house for a cheap-ish watered down pint? You could do. Or you could go out and have a cocktail in Camden, Covent Garden or Shoreditch… And come home with change from a £10 note. London is fortunate enough to be embellished by a charming cocktail scene, and there are many bars that cater to the slightly more penny-savvy crowd.

With happy hours sprinkled around the capital city, it’s hard to know which ones are actually worth visiting, and more importantly will leave you happy. I do not claim to be a cocktail connoisseur, but I can identify value for money. There are too many happy-hours and cheap deals to trawl through, so here are my personal favourites.

  • B@1 is a quality bar chain, who specialises in avant-garde concoctions, and have mastered the traditional. They have twelve easily accessible bars dotted across London, and every bar has a daily happy hour. These vary in times, and deals (some are 2-4-1, others are 2 for £9.50) so be sure to check out their website before you visit. The customer service is impeccable, and the cocktails are flawless. You can also reserve an area for free, so its great for parties, or you’re planning on wearing six inch heels.  
  • Fifty-Five Bar is located in the heart of Camden, but is tucked away behind the bustle of the high street. Monday to Saturday the happy hour offer of 2-4-1 cocktails runs from 6pm to 8pm, and on Sunday from 6pm till close! In addition to this, to beat away the Monday blues, they host their “Original Mojito Monday Madness”, which sees their 12 variations of the classic cocktail being offered on a 2-4-1 basis, all evening. Similarly to B@1, reserving a table is also free of charge. Fifty-Five bar is a hidden gem of Camden and is the perfect location to host pre-drinks, or a party. 
  • Freud is a basement café-bar situated in the hub of London’s West end, on Shaftesbury Avenue. The café-bar, which opened in 1986, boasts to be the first of its kind in England. The simple décor allows the attention of the artwork being exhibited to take full force, and the artwork changes monthly. Although Freud does not have a happy hour, the cocktails start at £5, which for the location is a godsend. I suggest arriving there before 6pm as it tends to fill up extremely quickly. While the bar could do with being larger, it would remove the intimate atmosphere. I would describe the bar as London’s best kept secret; however enough people have whispered the name ‘Freud’, and a sophisticated, creative crowd linger by the bar every night of the week.

    Images from Fluid Style, Big Hospitality