Cocktails are beautiful things. A work of art you might say. Ok, being a barman I’m perhaps a little subjective on the matter. But they are much loved (and consumed) that’s for certain. Shaped over the centuries by pirates, Peychaud and Prohibition, cocktails have evolved with the introduction of new spirits and techniques.
In and around Belfast you’ll find almost every bar displaying some form of cocktail menu these days. Some are standard, others are slick, many are exceptional, backed up by reputation and of course, an impressive Instagram feed.
So I’ve chosen five Belfast bars, all available to book on ResDiary, and all (perhaps surprisingly in some cases) will serve you up a mean cocktail.
But first, before you read about where to enjoy these tasty tipples, please do enjoy them safely and responsibly.
Solo Restaurant & Bar
Plush seating, huge mirrors and animal prints on the walls. No, not my bedroom, but the inside of Solo Restaurant. Oh, and there’s a giant Buddha print thrown in there too. The food selection is pretty vast, with menus for Indian cuisine, a la carte, tapas and vegetarian, but we’re here for a cocktail so let’s see.
They’ve added a twist to many of their drinks, including some pairings with the hotter end of the menu. The spiced Mojito giving a nice kick of fresh ginger for one.
The signature cocktail however, and one you won’t find anywhere else, is the one to try. ‘What’s the Quack’ (see what they did there?) has Bombay Sapphire gin, elderflower, blue curacao, egg white and lemon juice, complete with a small plastic duck floating on top!
Top Tipple: ‘What’s the Quack’ You are literally drinking a (very tasty) cocktail with a floating duck in it.
‘The Whig’ underwent a massive £300,000 refurb back in 2016. The inside is vast and vibrant, and it’s about as stylish a bar as you’ll find in Belfast, with a cocktail list that is equal to the decor.
A group of classic serves with flavoured mojitos and daiquiris, a ‘Cathedral Menu’, all named after the sights and streets of the surrounding Cathedral Quarter, a few sparkling prosecco mixes and mocktails for the driver.
Top Tipple: You have to try the pineapple Caipirinha, Sagatiba Cachaca rum, fresh pineapple, fresh lime and demerara syrup. Summertime all year long!
This alluring little spot on the Lisburn Road has taken many forms over the years, but now it’s a moody medley of sophistication and stylish New York design.
The cocktail list is 23 strong and reads like a who’s who of the mixed drinks fraternity. From the heavenly Aviation to the devilish El Diablo, on paper this is definitely one of the most impressive in town.
Top Tipple: with so much choice, I’m gonna stick to the house special, The Albany Fix. Grey Goose vodka, Crème de Mure, St Germain, lemon & lime Juice, and house made grenadine.
George’s of the Market
So this is the surprising one I mentioned earlier. One of the many great things about here is the restaurant’s ingredients all come fresh from the stalls of the historic St George’s below. The bustling market also serves as a great backdrop for diners.
For their cocktails, George’s has chosen local drinks makers like Ruby Blue and Shortcross to feature in almost every one. Shortcross gin in the Norn Iron Bramble, Ruby Blue vodka as the base in their Belfast Martini and Ruby Cosmo, and they have #pimpmyprosecco with a dose of Ruby Blue flavoured liqueur to tart up your fizz.
Top Tipple: Whilst I love a bit of local, I’m gonna have to go with the Honey Mule here. Jack Daniels honey bourbon, lime, chilli flakes, topped up with ginger beer. And at £6.50 a total bargain.
At just over a year old, the Doyen is the newest bar on our list. Traditionally styled, with big screens for sport, live music three nights a week, and a Wednesday smartphone pub quiz, it’s proving to be a real crowd pleaser with something for everyone. They also have Morso, a bright and casual Italian eatery.
The Doyen’s cocktails are all £7.95 and are a collection of definite classic, with a few side steps off the beaten path. Mojitos, Martinis and Margaritas, with a Dark and Stormy, Bramble or a Whiskey Sour, all fine choices.
The Penicillin is an absolute winner with smooth Jameson, smoky Laphroaig, lemon juice and honey & ginger syrup.
Top Tipple: beating Penicillin at the post is the Foxes Collins. The intrigue of Foxes Rock IPA in a mix with Plymouth gin, raspberry liqueur, fresh raspberries and sugar syrup.