Going out in Islington: The 6 best independent pubs and bars

Islington is fast becoming one of London’s most popular nightlife areas. In no particular order, here is Unbranded’s guide to the seven best independent pubs and bars in the area. Let us know your thoughts and recommendations in the comments.

The Lexington
96-98 Pentonville Rd, N1 9JB

Located smack-bang between King’s Cross and Angel Tube stations, The Lexington is a superb late-night lounge bar with an extensive selection of American craft beers and whiskeys. Every Monday it holds a fiendishly difficult music quiz – sponsored by indie record shop Rough Trade – while gigs and club nights usually take place on Fridays and Saturdays.

The Hanbury Arms
33 Linton St, N1 7DU

The Hanbury Arms, previously known as The Social, is a charming but little-known pub tucked away behind Arlington Square Gardens. It offers stone-baked pizza – prices range from £7.50 to £11 – and an impressive selection of cask ales. But its early closing time – 11pm, even Fridays and Saturdays – won’t suit everyone.

The Blacksmith and the Toffeemaker
292-294 St John St, EC1V 4PA

Although it’s a stone’s throw from City University, this cosy watering hole isn’t your typical student bar. Named after an obscure 60s folk song, the Blacksmith specialises in artisan gins and real ale, and prides itself on fine pub grub. Top tip: visit on Monday night for the pub quiz and two-for-one burgers.

Slim Jim’s Liquor Store
112 Upper St, London, N1 1QN

If you’d prefer somewhere more raucous, this American-inspired dive bar might be for you. Slim Jim’s offers a wide array of US whiskeys and bourbons, and plays a mix of classic rock tracks, from AC/DC and Led Zeppelin to Nirvana and Pearl Jam. It’s open until 3am on weekends, with live music every Saturday – usually from up-and-coming punk acts.

The New Rose
84-86 Essex Rd, N1 8LU

Another pub taking its name from a song – this time by punk legends The Damned – The New Rose is a gem hidden away on Essex Road, with friendly bar staff and large TVs showing football and rugby. Fun fact: Game of Thrones stars Jack Gleeson and Kit Harington – aka Joffrey and Jon Snow – have been known to stop by for a drink.

The Camden Head
2 Camden Walk, London N1 8DY

Tucked away on the Camden Passage, this pub offers free stand-up comedy shows seven nights a week, from amateurs to seasoned pros. Naturally, it gets busy, especially on weekends – so make so you arrive early. It’s not be confused with the pub of the same name on Camden High Street, which also holds a comedy club.


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