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Much has been said about Scouse humour and Liverpool’s character – just check out its bullish pub and bar scene if you want tune in to the spirit of the city. There’s a vast array of traditional backstreet boozers where you can listen to gritty regional accents and soak up the jokey, self-effacing good humour of the place. But if you want to party, the city’s bars are geared up for that too.
With two universities and a college in the centre of town, plus the nearby Liverpool John Lennon airport bringing in hosts of foreign tourists, this place certainly knows how to rock on a Friday and Saturday night. From indie students to women who take the word ‘glamour’ to new levels, Liverpool seems to have it all, especially if you want to sample the city’s vibrant music scene.
A defiantly traditional, 400-year-old dockland boozer with a strong commitment to real ale and its own microbrewery producing a range of Wapping Ales. Four resident ghosts, a secret tunnel and bowls of ‘scouse’ stew to scoff make this a must-visit for tourists, as well as a mixed crowd of beer aficionados.
Around 120 different beers from around the world are on offer at this branch of a mini chain devoted to drinking and entertainment. There’s live music every night, while a massive widescreen TV shows all the sport and other events. Match days can be rowdy, so by-pass the queues by pouring your own at one of the specially designed ‘draught tables’.
On the ground floor of Elevator Studios, this hip bar caters for the arty and creative types who congregate in Liverpool’s Baltic Triangle. The place doubles a café and socialising drop-in during the day, but morphs into a full-on bar come nightfall. Regular live music, exhibitions and other events pull the crowds – likewise classic cocktails.
An all-day bar attached to the Foundation for Art and Technology (FACT), this venue is ideal if you’re attending a film screening at the adjoining Picturehouse cinema (you can take your drink into the auditorium). Expect open-plan minimalist surrounds, big windows, plenty of people-watching, ‘novelty’ spirits and a fair choice of other drinks.
Among the coolest hangouts in the city centre, Parr Street’s legendary recording studios offer a choice of two bars – Studio 2 and The Attic. The former has a reputation for weekend breakfast and live gigs every day; the latter is a sprawling, music-themed venue known for its quizzes, DJs and party nights. Private rooms and hotel accommodation too.
A stunning art-nouveau edifice and must-visit watering hole opposite the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, famed for its riotously flamboyant interiors and outrageous pink-marble gents’ loos. There’s also an excellent choice of seasonal ales from independent breweries around the UK, plus a good choice of sustaining pub grub.
You can’t get more traditional than this two-roomed, family-run drinking den – the only pub in Merseyside to appear in every edition of the Good Beer Guide since it was first published in 1974. Expect six hand pumps on the go, games of cribbage, weekly quizzes and lots of conversational backroom banter – but no fruit machines or jukeboxes.
A nautically revamped 1930s art-deco building, this pub is all about the beer. Fifteen hand-pulled ales are generally on the go, and the fridges are stuffed with more than 100 bottled brews from around the world. There are beer festivals every month, a folk club, creative writing classes and darts – plus some basic pub grub at lunchtime.
On the city’s main drag for weekend revelling, the Shipping Forecast is a rollicking, shabby-chic amalgam of freaky posters, leather sofas and exposed brickwork with regular live brands, comedy acts, DJs and more besides. Alcohol rules here, although there is plenty of Anglo-American food to be had in Ruby Jean’s Diner.
A spin-off from the Vineyard Wines online shop, Vinea is tailor-made for Liverpool’s oenophiles who come here to taste and buy from a 150-strong list with very agreeable mark-ups. Nibbles come in the shape of artisan cheeses, charcuterie, pâtés and paninis from the in-house deli. Also check out the regular wine and whisky-tasting classes.