Those who came of (almost legal drinking) age when Sex and The City first hit TV screens, may also recall aspirations to upgrade their alcopops on park benches to Cosmopolitans in skyline bars. Whilst most Millennial’s university years were more Bacardi Breezers than Bellinis, graduates soon swapped Malibu for Martini (then quickly swapped back again due to taste buds that were accustomed to a much higher sugar content).
Thankfully, cocktails have improved as much as our palettes have since then and whilst Croydon’s bar scene can’t quite rival that of Manhattan (!), it offers plenty of options for those looking to branch out from their usual glass of vino.
If the beautiful mosaic walls in The Store could talk, they would tell you about the building’s fascinating history. But they can’t. So, we will.
In 1869, John James Sainsbury and his wife opened the first Sainsbury’s store on Drury Lane in central London. Its success led to the opening of many more stores (including the first Croydon branch in 1882 which went on to become the flagship).
1930 saw the opening of 73 South End which was decked out with the same brown and green wall tiles, floor mosaics and Italian marble counter tops that John James had personally selected for the flagship.
These lavish fittings were uncovered again years later, and now provide a beautiful backdrop for drinkers and diners at The Store.
The size of the cocktail list might be modest, but the flavours are anything but – with much loved classics being given a modern twist. Think Pecan Espresso and Aperol Sour. How befitting of the building’s history to celebrate the synchronicity of old and new ideas.
73 South End, Croydon, CR0 1BF
King Of The South
South Croydon or South America? Regardless, the live music and dancing (supported by a backing troupe of cocktails) make this pub and kitchen worthy of its crown.
The Brazilian owners celebrate their heritage with a regular programme of live (and lively) music events.
The Bossa Nova beats keep the dance floor busy until the early hours but if your hips are more Croydon than Copacabana, stick to the bar and sip Caipirinhas for your cultural kicks.
14 South End, Croydon, CR0 1DL
If cocktails are made for slow sipping, it makes sense to embrace the Caribbean pace of life and “take tings easy” with a round at Turtle Bay.
A rainy Hump Day on Croydon High Street is about as far removed from the white sands of the West Indies as you can get, but the team here do a pretty good job at transforming stressy, umbrella clad commuters into laid back Daquiri drinkers.
The venue’s playlist is more upfront carnival vibes than subtle backing track which will help you instantly shake off the day.
The huge space is cleverly divided up, with plenty of colourful backdrops to keep Insta feeds fed all night. The 2-4-1 cocktail happy hour operates (almost) all day every day and is served up by unfathomably smiley staff.
Once you’ve slurped down Reggae Rum Punch, Koko Kolada and Bahama Mamas as if your five-a-day ration depended on it, you’ll leave the premises vowing to replace more Wednesday wines with Wednesday Whines.
16 High St, Croydon, CR0 1GT
Located underneath the Croydon Flyover, the derogative “Bridge and Tunnel” term used to describe New Yorkers that commute into Manhattan is somewhat apt here.
But such negativity stops at the door, with the bright pink interior and neon lights soon shaking off any bad vibes.
It’s worth studiously studying the 12-page cocktail list, which offers all the classics alongside quirkier options (including a whole range dedicated to rum infused Tiki drinks).
The extended 5pm to 9pm Happy Hour (with 2-4-1 on drinks) will help give you a pretty decent understanding of the menu – with a highlight being The Pornstar Tree (which delicately balances 12 Martini glasses within its branches).
Whilst Bottomless Brunches at the weekend always prove popular, it’s the Wednesday night karaoke that see’s singers take over the dancefloor.
Surrounded by the dulcet tones of Alicia Keys (and several Cosmos in), you’ll soon find yourself transported to the “concrete jungle where dreams are made of”.
88 High St, Croydon, CR0 1NA
The newest kid on the cocktail block, Fern is an all-day venue in the world’s (second) tallest modular building.
Whilst some locals might still long for a skyline bar, Fern is everything a rooftop hot spot could be (just a few floors lower!).
The bar area overlooks the restaurant with windows facing out towards a growing number of surrounding skyscrapers.
Sat on a comfy, leather clad bar stool by the stunning arched mirrored bar (complete with antique brass bar top), the space could give any Manhattan bar a run for its money (in fact, the design scheme was based on one of them).
Channel your most sophisticated self (amongst other grown-ups who are as equally delighted by Fern’s no-child policy), order one of their signature Smoky Paloma’s and get led astray by The Lost Explorer Mezcal it contains.
100a George St, Croydon CR0 1GP