As the financial heart of the capital, the City of London is teeming with businessmen and women and tourists alike, the very embodiment of the rush of big city living. But among the towering skyscrapers and medievel alleyways, the square mile is also home to some of the trendiest and most affluent bars and restaurants in London, with phenomenal views of landmarks such as St Paul's Cathedral or 30 St Mary Axe – better known as the Gherkin. In some cases, such as the Threadneedle Bar at the Royal Exchange, they're even set inside them. Read on for our selection of the coolest and classiest cocktail spots inside the City...
While the façade of the historic Royal Exchange is one of the City's most famous landmarks – first established in 1571 and rebuilt in 1844 – where it meets the Bank of England, but for classy cocktail lovers the building's real appeal is inside its courtyard, where city slick meets fine dining at a handful of stunning restaurants and bars. For a pre-dinner cocktail or several, we recommend the Threadneedle Bar, a richly atmospheric and luxuriantly stylish bar overlooking the Grand Café. Try the signature Kaffir Collins or Fresco Fizz – or sample the regularly updated 'long and seasonal' cocktails – such as the award seasons' Times Up and International Women's Day themed Let Them Eat Cake.
Be sure to arrive early if you want to get a spot at the popular, and effortlessly cool Nickel Bar at The Ned. The only bar at this spectacular private members' club, expect American staple and classic cocktails along with a nightly line up of live music acts, from Music Monday's emerging acts to jazz trios. With opulent marble columns, The Nickel Bar has a distinctly 1930s look to go with its timeless cocktail menu – try the Midnight Old Fashioned to really fit the part.
Much like The Ned, you can hardly claim Madison's Rooftop Terrace is a secret City haunt any more, but it's still one of the best. Claiming the rooftop of One New Change, this restaurant and bar has the best view of St. Paul's Cathedral bar none. With regular themes and specials – including its current Manhattan Challenge, pitting six American classic cocktails against six contemporary twists (don't miss La Grande Illusion, a Latin-inspired version of the Last Word using homemade falernum and mandarin liqueur). For weekend visitors, Madison also hosts regular brunch club parties starting on Good Friday.
City Social's view of the City of London's financial centre is all but unmatched from where it's nestled 24-flights up in Tower 42. Jason Atherton's eccentric restaurant is well worth dining in, and regularly voted one of the most romantic in London, but if you're more interested in the cocktail menu than the a la carte you're in for a treat on all fronts. With playful cocktails named Freedom of Peach and Gold Plum-Sachs, each is beautifully presented and absolutely delicious.
Set in a Grade II listed building formerly owned by the East India Company, Old Bengal Bar straddles Shoreditch cool and City elegance with ease. An extensive wine list accompanies the unique cocktails by bar manager Tomas Vykopal, we especially like the atmospheric outside space, featuring plenty of fairy-lit greenery against the redbrick walls. Arrive early for snacks or seats – or make the most of the adjacent New Street Grill restaurant.