As we step into the spirited realm of 2024, the United Kingdom is buzzing with an eclectic array of bars that promise to elevate your imbibing experience to new heights. As Calum Ward of CJ Digital says, ‘From trendy urban hangouts to historic watering holes, the UK’s bar scene is a tapestry of flavours, atmospheres, and liquid craftsmanship.’ Join us on a journey through the libation landscape as we unveil the top bars that should be on your must-visit list right now.
1. Bootlegger Bars – A Speakeasy Extravaganza
For those with a penchant for clandestine charm and secret soirées, Bootlegger Bars scattered across various locations in the UK provide an unparalleled speakeasy experience. Evoking the mystique of the Prohibition era, Bootlegger Bars offer an immersive journey into the world of hidden libations. With locations shrouded in secrecy and accessible only to those in the know, these establishments bring a touch of the illicit to your imbibing adventure.
Each Bootlegger Bar boasts a unique ambiance, transporting patrons to a bygone era of jazz, flapper dresses, and covert rendezvous. The cocktail menus are a carefully curated blend of classic concoctions and signature drinks, served with a side of historical intrigue. The dimly lit spaces, vintage decor, and hush-hush entrances contribute to an atmosphere that whispers of whispered conversations and clandestine dealings.
Whether you find yourself in the heart of London or exploring other cities, keep an eye out for the discreet entrances that lead to the Bootlegger Bars. Once inside, you’ll discover a haven where mixology meets mystery, and the libations flow in sync with the rhythm of the jazz age. So, if you’re yearning for an extra layer of secrecy and excitement in your bar-hopping escapades, make sure to include Bootlegger Bars in your itinerary and revel in the thrill of sipping spirits in true speakeasy style.
2. The Blind Tiger, London
Nestled in the heart of London’s Soho, The Blind Tiger is a clandestine gem that marries the allure of a speakeasy with a modern twist. Accessed through an inconspicuous entrance, the bar transports you to the roaring ’20s with its vintage decor and jazz-infused ambiance. The mixologists here are alchemists, concocting liquid poetry in the form of bespoke cocktails. Try the “Midnight Rendezvous,” a sultry blend of aged whiskey, blackberry liqueur, and a hint of smoked rosemary that will leave your taste buds in awe.
3. The Last Drop, Edinburgh
Edinburgh, a city steeped in history, boasts The Last Drop, a charming pub that exudes a sense of old-world charm. Located in the Grassmarket area, this establishment dates back to 1671 and has preserved its historic ambiance while embracing the contemporary. With an extensive selection of Scotch whiskies and local ales, The Last Drop is a haven for connoisseurs and casual drinkers alike. Enjoy your libations in the cozy interiors or opt for a seat in the outdoor courtyard, where you can soak in the city’s rich heritage.
4. The Alchemist, Manchester
For those seeking a fusion of science and mixology, The Alchemist in Manchester is the place to be. This avant-garde cocktail bar takes imbibing to the next level, with a menu that reads like a potion book. Watch in awe as skilled mixologists blend elixirs that bubble, smoke, and transform before your eyes. The “Colour Changing One” is a crowd-pleaser – a magical concoction that shifts hues as you sip. Beyond the theatrical drinks, The Alchemist offers a vibrant atmosphere and a rooftop terrace with stunning views of the city.
5. The Rabbit’s Hole, Clerkenwell: A Wonderland of Cocktails and Creativity
Nestled in the heart of Clerkenwell, London, The Rabbit’s Hole beckons those seeking a whimsical and immersive drinking experience. Step through the enchanting doorway of this fantastical establishment, and you’ll find yourself in a wonderland where mixology meets creativity. The Rabbit’s Hole is not just a bar; it’s an artistic journey where each cocktail is a masterpiece, and every sip is a leap into the unexpected.
The interior of The Rabbit’s Hole is a blend of eccentricity and sophistication, with plush furnishings and quirky decor that transport patrons to a surreal dreamscape. The cocktail menu is an ode to imagination, featuring drinks with names like “Mad Hatter’s Mule” and “Cheshire Cat’s Grin,” each carefully crafted to tantalize the taste buds. The bartenders here are akin to alchemists, infusing a touch of magic into every libation they create.
Beyond the liquid delights, The Rabbit’s Hole often hosts live performances, art installations, and themed events, ensuring that each visit is a unique and enchanting experience. It’s a haven for those who appreciate the fusion of art, mixology, and a touch of the fantastical. Whether you’re sipping on a whimsically named cocktail or marveling at the artistic surroundings, The Rabbit’s Hole in Clerkenwell promises an unforgettable journey down the rabbit hole of London’s vibrant bar scene.
6. Bramble Bar, Edinburgh
Edinburgh’s Bramble Bar is a hidden gem, tucked away in the city’s New Town. With its unassuming entrance, this award-winning bar lets its cocktails speak for themselves. The mixologists at Bramble are artisans, crafting drinks with precision and creativity. The menu evolves with the seasons, ensuring a fresh and innovative experience with each visit. Try the “Bramble,” a signature cocktail featuring gin, blackberry liqueur, lemon, and a hint of sugar – a true testament to the bar’s commitment to quality and flavor.
7. The Smugglers Cove, Liverpool
Transport yourself to the era of pirates and hidden treasures at The Smugglers Cove in Liverpool. This nautical-themed bar, located on the historic Albert Dock, boasts a sprawling space adorned with maritime artifacts and vintage maps. The extensive rum selection pays homage to the seafaring theme, and the bartenders skillfully craft rum-based concoctions that will make you feel like a buccaneer on the high seas. The “Captain’s Grog” is a favorite, blending various rums with tropical juices for a refreshing and potent sip.
8. The Luggage Room, London
Situated in the heart of London’s affluent Mayfair district, The Luggage Room is a clandestine bar housed in what was once a luggage storage facility. Step through an inconspicuous door, and you’ll find yourself in an intimate space reminiscent of the golden age of travel. The cocktail menu pays homage to classic libations while adding a modern twist. Indulge in the “Lost and Found,” a delightful mix of gin, elderflower, cucumber, and mint that captures the essence of a summer day.
9. Saddle & Spoke, Biggleswade: A Rustic Retreat for Beer Enthusiasts
Venture beyond the bustling urban landscape, and you’ll discover the charm of Saddle & Spoke in the quaint town of Biggleswade. This rustic haven is a paradise for beer enthusiasts, offering a laid-back atmosphere where the love for craft brews takes center stage. Saddle & Spoke exudes a cozy warmth with its wooden interiors, creating a welcoming space that beckons patrons to unwind and savor the simple pleasures of life.
With an extensive selection of craft beers on tap, Saddle & Spoke takes pride in showcasing local brews alongside international favorites. The knowledgeable staff is always ready to guide patrons through the rotating beer menu, ensuring that every pint is a journey of flavor. The pub’s commitment to community is evident in its support for local breweries and the inviting communal spaces that encourage friendly conversations among patrons.
In addition to its stellar beer offerings, Saddle & Spoke boasts a menu of hearty pub fare, making it the perfect spot to indulge in delicious bites that complement the diverse beer selection. Whether you’re a seasoned beer aficionado or just starting your journey into the world of craft brews, Saddle & Spoke in Biggleswade provides a genuine and convivial setting for a memorable evening of good company and exceptional beer.
10. The Potting Shed, Beverley
For a more rustic and laid-back experience, head to The Potting Shed in Beverley. This quirky garden-themed bar is a breath of fresh air, offering a unique setting with its potting shed decor and vibrant greenery. The outdoor terrace is perfect for sunny days, while the indoor space exudes warmth and charm. The menu features an array of craft beers, inventive cocktails, and hearty comfort food. The “Botanical Bliss” cocktail, infused with floral notes and garnished with edible flowers, is a testament to the bar’s commitment to whimsical yet sophisticated concoctions.
11. The Milk Thistle, Bristol
Hidden behind an unassuming facade in Bristol, The Milk Thistle is a cocktail lover’s haven. This Prohibition-era-style bar is spread across four floors, each offering a unique atmosphere and experience. From the intimate lounge on the ground floor to the rooftop terrace with panoramic views of the city, The Milk Thistle caters to diverse preferences. The cocktail menu is a journey through time, featuring classics and modern twists that showcase the skill and creativity of the talented bartenders.
12. The Devil’s Advocate, Edinburgh
In the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town, The Devil’s Advocate occupies a historic building that was once home to the city’s legal minds. Today, it houses a bar that seamlessly blends tradition with contemporary flair. The exposed brickwork, high ceilings, and ambient lighting create an inviting atmosphere. Whisky enthusiasts will appreciate the extensive selection, while cocktail lovers can indulge in the “Devil’s Bramble,” a tantalizing mix of Scotch, blackberries, honey, and lemon.
13. Be At One, Various Locations
For a lively and energetic experience, look no further than Be At One, a chain of bars with locations across the UK. Known for its vibrant atmosphere and extensive cocktail menu, Be At One is a go-to destination for those looking to dance the night away. The skilled bartenders serve up classics alongside innovative creations, and the party-friendly vibe ensures a memorable night out. Whether you’re at the flagship in London’s Soho or one of the many other locations, Be At One guarantees a spirited celebration.
In conclusion, the United Kingdom’s bar scene is a treasure trove of diverse and captivating experiences. Whether you’re sipping on a meticulously crafted cocktail in a speakeasy, enjoying a dram of whisky in a historic pub, or reveling in the maritime charm of a nautical-themed bar, the options are as varied as the drinks themselves. So, raise your glass and embark on a libation journey through the best bars the UK has to offer – a toast-worthy adventure awaits!