Bristol was built on the sugar and the rum trade so it’s no secret that when it comes to booze, we know what we’re doing. Although we might be more famous for our love of cider and more recently craft beer, the Bristol cocktail bar scene is only ever growing and improving with a little something for everyone. Kitsch to cool, traditional to tongue in cheek, here are a few of our favourites to try the next time you’ve a cocktail craving you can’t ignore.
Cosy Club Bristol
If your cocktail checklist includes opulent surrounding, beautiful decor, high ceilings and perfectly turned out staff, Cosy Club is the choice for you. With a nod to the 20s, Cosy Club take the classics and adds a little of their own flair to each cocktail for you to enjoy amongst potted palms and chandeliers. The beautiful bar holds a plethora of familiar spirits, each used expertly to create drinks you know and some you might not. Our menu favourites include the Vanilla Espresso Martini, made with their own cold brewed coffee and vanilla vodka and their Orchard Crumble, a delightful muddle of gin, apple, cinnamon and vanilla with a hint of chamomile and Darjeeling. A quintessentially English flavoured drink.
If you like your Bristol cocktail bars hidden from view with furniture that more than hints at 60’s chic, Red Light might be the place for you. To get in, you call them via the graffitied telephone box and if accepted you descend a dark staircase lit by neon signs into a room bathed in golden light, Mad Men style seating and bar staff in braces. The menu we will keep as a surprise, as like their entrance, they like to keep things on the down low, but this is a bar where you can confidently walk in with an idea of what you like and leave having tried something new on the staff’s recommendation. Red Light is a must visit to truly say you have tried the Bristol cocktail scene.
Buttermilk and Maple
Situated right by Welsh Back, Buttermilk & Maple is a cool spot to hang out, both in the comfy bar in winter, and on their terrace in summer. Their cocktail menu is great, with twists on classics like the Temple Back Sling, their take on the Singapore Sling, or The Redcliffe Mocha, a jazzed-up espresso martini. For the poor designated drivers, they also have a “Sensible Cocktails” menu with tasty drinks for those on the softs.
Hyde And Co
Continuing on the speakeasy trend, Hyde and Co is hidden away on a side street, its presence only made obvious by looking for the bowler hat and the lamp. If allowed entry, you are transported from the busy and brightly lit Clifton Triangle to a dark interior, a cavern of rich mahogany, leather seats and early 19th century charm. Here, they champion the classics but as always with a twist. The menu changes seasonally and with ceremony, with commissioned artwork decorating their menus and a strong narrative theme running throughout. Our current obsession is their Blood, Sugar Sex Magik, a heady mix of a house rum blend, pineapple syrup, Bristol Cream Sherry, lime and black tea bitters.
If you like your bars serving drinks made with ingredients very close to home Bristol Spirit is for you. This recently opened bar in East Bristol combines the owner Sam’s love of film and art and Scandi furniture with her and her teams expertly made cocktails. Bristol Spirit stocks their sister company Espensen Spirit, a range of fruit infused gins and vodkas that go on to make some damn tasty cocktails. The setting is intimate, but friendly, the menu is vast and experimental and there is usually an exciting pop up in the kitchen that’s serving up stomach lining goodies for those feeling a little peckish. A favourite is their take on the Espresso Martini, made with Espensen Spirit “True Romance” Sloe Vodka for a complimentary fruity take on a revived classic.
If you like your cocktails with their tongue firmly wedged into their cheek, Loose Cannon is the cocktail bar for you. The team at Loose Cannon feel anything is game, From Brexit to Jeremy Corbyn, no one or thing is safe from their satirical menu. The team will serve you something classic if you want it but would prefer to make you laugh, groan and splutter into one of their inventive house favourites. Independently owned, Loose Cannon make use of the freedom they have to stock exactly what they want on their back bar and don’t shy away from getting creative when it comes to the presentation. Boozy ice cream floats, cocktails in Irn Bru cans and Marmite jars and a whole host of edible glitter, dehydrated fruit and other garnishes make drinking at Loose Cannon an event to remember.