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12 essential cocktail bars in Bristol

We do a lot of things well in Bristol and cocktails is most certainly one of them. From speakeasy’s hidden from view to bars who are loud, proud and love a dance, we have the must see list of the best cocktail bars in Bristol.

Milk Thistle is one of Bristol’s biggest speakeasies so you’d be surprised how hidden this bar is. Find the door and ring the bell and if you’re lucky you will be shown to one of three floors, each beautifully decorated with leather seats, rich mahogany walls and staircases, art and taxidermy. After being shown to your seat you will be served at the table by attentive staff who will talk you through your menu, recommend drinks and even make you a little something special if you have something in mind. Look out for Milk Thistle’s special spirit clubs, an evening to try whisky and gin’s from all over the world, meet the people that make them and have a few nibbles to line the stomach.


Red Light is a mismatch of 80’s neon lights and grubby telephone boxes above ground leading to a 50’s – 60’s themed bar below. Another speakeasy you have to lift the receiver and hope they like the look of you before you’re allowed through the door and down the staircase into the cavernous bar. The cocktails are punchy here with plenty of variety, house specials and theatrics to warrant the price tag. Eye up the furniture as you sip your drink and you will find some great inspiration for your Mad Men themed living room goals.


A stalwart of the Whiteladies Road drinking scene, Flipside is the place to go if you like your bars easy to find, your drinks full of fun and your music turned up loud. With the interior decorated by a local street artist, the space is cool and relaxed with great views over Whiteladies Road from the huge windows up front. The back bar is groaning with spirits from all over the world and the staff are friendly, knowledgeable and will whip you up anything you like. Look out for the odd themed party and their sister bar, Faraway in the Old City.


We all know that Pata Negra serves the best tapas and sherry but did you know upstairs is a cocktail bar with a dance floor? Noche Negra opens from 7pm on Fridays and Saturdays and serves fruity, Latin inspired cocktails which taste great and provide great dance fuel for when the DJs start later in the evening. There is plenty of seating if dancing isn’t your bag and food isn’t far away if the mood takes you.


Another speakeasy using the humble phone box as a teleportation device into a better world, Her Majesty’s Secret Service (or HMSS as it’s also known) is probably Bristol’s most inventive cocktail bar. Sat at the entrance to the Clifton Down train station it’s a popular haunt for commuters avoiding the first train home as well as weekend revelers. These guys have literally served a drink in a shoe (well a porcelain welly boot) and really enjoy being a little bit silly when it comes to serving up drinks to remember. If you prefer something a little more sensible than a drink poured into an old tin can, they have a fantastic menu that covers all basics and enjoyable twists on the classics. HMSS is one of my fave places to enjoy an old fashioned and a bowl of monkey nuts.

Everyone who is anyone knows about the Rummer. This central bar neighboring the main thoroughfare of St Nicks market is popular with wedding parties either heading to or from the Registry Office as well as the weekend and after-work crowd. In the winter there is a proper fire, chesterfields and a couple of dogs that will keep you warm, in the summer the doors can be flung open, the outside tables commandeered and cocktails enjoyed in the oldest part of the city. Underneath the bar, the cavernous basement has gone from club, to dining room to micro gin distillery. You might also be interested to know that Bristol’s newest gin distillery Bristol Dry Gin is located in the basement of The Rummer, you would be mad to not try a negroni or gin martini with a product made 8ft beneath your feet!


The original Prohibition bar, Hyde & Co, was one of Bristol’s first hidden cocktail bars, and it’s still just as popular today as it was when they first opened the door nearly seven years ago. Those in the know look out for the illuminated bowler hat, ring the bell and wait with anticipation, not knowing if there will be room at the inn for them. If you’re lucky, you’re ushered in and seated in a warmly lit bar, with the signature Hyde & Co rich mahogany, soft leather and taxidermy furniture fixings. The menu’s are beautiful, the cocktails are potent but balanced and expertly made, which may lead to an evening lost as you eventually stumble back into the street to leave. Look out for their frequent spirit tasting evenings, they’re some of the hottest tickets in town.

This Low-key, unpretentious Clifton village bar is one of Bristol hidden gems. Amoeba has carved out a niche for itself serving great cocktails, wines and stocking a belting bottle fridge. The back bar is packed to bursting with only the best spirits money can buy, if the team don’t rate it, they don’t stock it ensuring everything you drink here is top notch. If you’re not sure what you fancy, the staff are ready with great suggestions and are always happy to mix you up something if they’ve heard of it (unless its an espresso martini, they don’t have a coffee machine so stop asking!). Try the house special, the Thai Daiquiri, if you want to be transported somewhere hot and tropical and enjoy it in their lovely little patio when the sun is shining.


Fancy a little bit of NYC in Bristol? Well, you’ve found it! The Bootlegger is a classy little joint situated at the top of Cheltenham Road. Blending Modern American and Prohibition styles, it packs a punch with beautifully prepared cocktails and live 1920s style swing! The Bootlegger claims to be the only “accessible speakeasy” in Bristol, doing away with the doorbells and hidden entrances but keeping the old time feel inside. There are over 90 cocktails to choose from here, all with inventive names and ingredients, a personal favourite is the Ginny Hendricks, a cocktail made with Hendricks gin and elder-flower.

The Clockwork Rose is a quirky little cocktail bar that’s a dream destination for cocktail lovers and steam punk fans alike. The eclectic decorations and unique interiors will draw you in, just begging you to snap a photo of them for your Instagram. It’s their deliciously creative cocktail menu that’ll make you stay though – expect inventive, intriguing, and downright mad cocktails that are as tasty and addictive as they are unusual.


Right in the heart of the Harbourside, Loose Cannon is a seriously stylish setting in which to enjoy some high quality cocktails. Forget the cheap, juice-filled, watery dishwater that so often masquerades as a cocktail these days – these drinks are decadent, delicious, and inventive. With highly trained bar staff who really know their stuff, making seasonal cocktails served in bespoke glassware, you’re guaranteed to get something memorable. What’s their style? Think crazy garnishes, names, and pop culture references. It’s a place for quality drinks, and time with your mates. And don’t worry – you can enjoy the fabulous cocktail displays even if you’re not a fan yourself. If you want a pint, you can have one!We love that Loose Cannon infiltrates Millennium Square, bringing an independent creative spark to this relatively chainy area of Bristol.

Slap in the heart of Bristol’s historic old centre is a land Far, Far away. So faraway, in fact, that it’s called Faraway Cocktail Club. A little slice of tropical paradise right in our own fair city, Faraway are serving up the true flavours of the Caribbean in a vibey, funky bar that’s bursting with atmosphere. Although this a rum, tequila and mezcal focussed cocktail bar, forget the tacky tiki bars of your misspent youth – this place is all about the finest quality drinks, delivered with panache and class.


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