Bars in Bristol have had a makeover of late, with plenty of cool spaces popping up where once old boozers used to lay, and aren’t we just so glad that’s the case?
There are plenty of options, depending on the occasion, with cocktail bars a-plenty, pretty pubs and even a drinking den that specialises in just one kind of spirit. We’re huge fans of a snack (as you might have guessed) and some of our favourite bars in Bristol also serve up a menu of light-bites to enjoy while you drink. We’ll point out the good ones so you know where to order a portion of fries or a couple of plates of tacos along with your round.
Whatever you’re looking for in a bar we’re pretty sure you’ll find it below. Here are the different types of places we’ve rounded up, which you can click straight to if you already know the kind of venue you’re on the hunt for. If you don’t yet know, then have a scroll through from top to bottom for a full 'bars in Bristol' education.
Best bars in Bristol for cocktails
When it comes to cocktail bars in Bristol we’re always on the hunt for venues that offer up a little more than your standard G&T (although those guys are great too, don’t get us wrong). The below is a hand-picked list of our favourite spots for drinks with friends, family or your other half. Whether you’re heading out on a Friday for a few, or just want a quiet weeknight catch-up, all of our favourite cocktail bars will ensure you get delicious drinks in a beautiful setting.
Why: Promising a ‘sensory delight’ The Florist give themselves quite a strapline to live up to. Thankfully they deliver on their promise with drinks all having a botanical theme, served in a light and airy bar setting. This is prime Instagram fodder. We love the sound of the Peach and Lavender Cosmo that combines gin, peach liqueur, vanilla, peach and white grape juice, lemon and lavender. When it comes to the food there’s a brunch offering in The Florist’s signature ‘modern food with an Asian influence’ style, as well as lunch and dinner menus, plus a weekly Sunday roast.
Where: 69 Park Street, Bristol, BS1 5PB
The Milk Thistle
Why: With a slightly private members club feel to it, this Bristol bar is filled with eclectic furnishings. We love the huge old drum made into a coffee table, and the red leather upholstered arm chairs. The menu at The Milk Thistle regularly changes with the seasons and is presented in a quirky illustrated style. Recent favourites have been The Wickerman (Glenmorangie whiskey, cocchi rosa, roasted barley, lemon and lavender) and the Sweet Confidence (strawberry shrub and Cinzana Rosso).
Where: Quay Head House, Colston Avenue, Bristol, BS1 1EB
Hyde & Co
Why: If you’re into the theatre of a cocktail bar then you’re going to love Hyde & Co’s speakeasy format. The drinks here are taken very seriously, with each one dedicated to an old or new Bristol drinking den. As an Example the Rhubarb Tavern is made with vodka, rhubarb gin, oat, and soda in dedication to a 1600s pub which used to sit among fields of rhubarb in the Barton Hills. The space itself is dimly lit, encouraging quiet conversation and a relaxed background buzz. What’s most remarkable about this Bristol bar is its beginning, it never had any marketing and news of it was entirely spread by word of mouth, resulting in it becoming one of the city’s top bars without so much as an Instagram account announcing its arrival.
Where: The Basement, 2 Upper Byron Place, Bristol, BS8 1JY
Her Majesty’s Secret Service
Why: This bar in Bristol has a retro British theme to it, as the name might suggest, and deals in a seasonally-changing menu of delightful drinks. Serves are playfully named and presented in interesting ways, like the Major Oak – made with Courvoisier, apple spirit, acorn vermouth and hazel Jägermeister – which has a fun Robin Hood description and is served in a coupe decorated with an arrow.
Where: Whiteladies Road, Bristol, BS8 2PH
Why: This speakeasy requires you to call from an old telephone box affixed to an unassuming shop-front outside before being permitted entry. Once you’re safely clear of the entry kafuffle you’ll be rewarded with some of Bristol’s finest cocktails at Red Light. Here mixologists do their thing, shaking and stirring up delicious drinks for you, paying real attention to all those little extras that take a place from good to great. The ice, for instance, is hand carved, to allow for slow melting and perfectly chilled drinks. The space itself is warmly lit from dim lamps and is decked out in textures of wood and leather, and because of its relatively small space we’d advise booking early to make sure you have a good spot.
Where: 1 Unity Street, Bristol, BS1 5HH
Why: If there’s something we like more than a cocktail bar, it’s a cocktail bar mixed with a micro distillery. Enter, The Rummer. This spot in Bristol is somewhat of an institution, and added the micro distillery to its armoury in 2017. Making their own gins, vodkas and Aquavits The Rummer use these in-house spirits in their drinks, and also sell them to takeaway with you, if the fancy takes you. On the cocktail menu you’ll find sections for classics, house specials, small batches and bartenders’ choice. When it comes to the latter we love the sound of Essence Of The Bull which combines gin, Limoncello, Absinthe, lemon, sauvignon blanc syrup and soda.
Where: All Saints Lane, Old, Bristol, BS1 1JH
The Clockwork Rose
Why: With a whimsical backstory about this bar being the fictional watering hole for Captain Sebastian Commodore and his crew there’s a strong fantasy theme weaving its way through every aspect of the experience. Drinks are dedicated to different tales Captain Commodore re-laid during his visits, with names like Polar Exploration and The Captain’s Ritual. All of the cocktails are served in interesting ways – from copper mule mugs to tea cups – and contain a strong hit of alcohol each.
Where: 16 St Stephen's Street, Bristol, BS1 1JR
Why: Set on Bristol Harbourside this independent bar has a whole army of staff armed with some seriously in-depth cocktail knowledge. They claim that if you can name a cocktail, they’ll be able to make it – whether it’s on their inventive and innovative menu or not. Now that sounds like a fun challenge to us. Loose Cannon has an industrial vibe with a slightly nautical edge (fitting for the area) and treats customers to a regular happy hour where you can get two cocktails for £11. If cocktails aren’t your thing there are a few decent beers on tap too.
Where: Unit 1b, 8 Millennium Promenade, Bristol, BS1 5SZ
London Cocktail Club Bristol
Why: Everything about the London Cocktail Club is over the top – from the décor to the drinks – but that’s what makes it so much fun. Rooms are themed in either an intense red or a striking violet colour, not to mention the flamingo patterned wall paper, and there’s always a great playlist on the go. Our drink of choice is the rose petal martini that is flavoured with lemon and cranberry. Also, you can become a member for free which gives you two cocktails for £12 at all times. Seems like a no-brainer.
Where: 37 Triangle W, Bristol, BS8 1ER
Why: Despite this being one of our favourite bars in Bristol, you won’t find hordes of people clamouring to get in, as it’s tucked away just out of the main drag on Upper Belgrave Road, and they offer a service where you can pop your name down if they’re full, and come back when a table comes available. Because of this it always feels exclusive, and you’ll usually find a nice spot is available to sit and slowly sip a drink or three. The interior is clean and classy with black metal light fittings and a wooden bar. The drinks here are always evolving, but their recipes are always taken seriously with drinks like The Crepuscolo on offer – a serve made with tequila, Cointreau, homemade passion fruit and orange sherbet, lime juice and egg white.
Where: 52 Upper Belgrave Road, Bristol, BS8 2XP
The Filthy XIII
Why: Championing smaller spirit suppliers who they’ve selected for their taste, the team at The Filthy Thirteen are passionate about their drinks and how they’re made. Watch as they expertly mix, muddle or shake you up your chosen serve, and enjoy it all in a convivial neighbourly atmosphere. Try drinks like the Scrumptious Sour, which takes Hennessy VS, cider brandy, buttered rhubarb wine and fresh lemon for an incredibly drinkable cocktail, that tastes like dessert in a glass.
Where: 208 Cheltenham Road, Bristol, BS6 5QU
Best bars in Bristol for activities
The child inside us all needs regular attention paying to it, it’s the best way we know of letting loose. Embrace your inner-child with an activity bar in Bristol, to help kick start your night in the best kind of way. Whether you’re a classic board-game appreciator or more of a computer geek the below bars will make sure you’re covered when it comes to having an evening of good clean fun.
Why: We’re always fans of an activity at a bar, and Kongs combine all your usual drink offerings with arcade-style gaming. This is a great place to come with a group of friends for a fun evening, allowing for everyone to compete against each other on various games – there are fighting ones, puzzles and old school classics amongst scrollers and racing games. Drinks are the standard offering and food is provided by a pop up called Bun Fiction, who make vegan junk food-style sandwiches.
Where: 13-15 King Street, Bristol, BS1 4EF
Chance and Counters
Why: If there’s one sure-fire way to know you’re nowhere near your teens anymore it’s the joy you’ll feel at the thought of a board game bar. Okay, they strictly brand themselves as a café, but with a full drinks list and opening hours of 10am – 11.45pm on weekends we think this definitely qualifies as a bar. There’s good food on offer here too, if you want to make an evening of it, with seasonal food designed by Bib Gourmand chefs. There’s a cover charge of £5 per person to play games, or you can become a member for £25 a year. For your fee you’ll get the pick of piles of board games as well as access to one of Chance and Counters’ lovely games guru, who are on hand to help with rules (and maybe disputes!) throughout your session.
Where: 20 Christmas Steps, Bristol, BS1 5BS
Best Brewery bars in Bristol
Increasingly people are looking for more from a bar than just a few bottles of your standard Becks. Enter, breweries. These wonderful worlds serve up their very own homemade beers to some very happy punters. When it comes to breweries in Bristol you’ll find a varied bunch, from intimate microbreweries to industrial-feeling spaces. Whatever your party size the below will give you somewhere perfect to enjoy a few pints.
Wild Beer at Wapping Wharf
Why: Down at Bristol Harbourside there are lots of cool and quirky venues to grab a drink in, but for a good fashioned pint we don’t think you can beat Wild Beer. The team here are from Somerset and treat their booze with a bit of respect, offering up 22 draught beer taps, as well as additional bottles and cans in a slightly industrial-like setting. The food here is worth a try too, with a varied international menu featuring things like chorizo and pea orzo as well southern fried chicken and chips.
Where: Units 6-8 Gaol Ferry Steps, Bristol, BS1 6WE
Brewhouse and Kitchen
Why: Was there ever a trendier title than microbrewery? Although Brewhouse and Kitchen are a mini chain brand, their ethos remains very-much like a small independent bar. They brew all their own unique craft beers on-site, and even go to the trouble of matching specific beer to individual dishes on their food menu.
Where: 31-35 Cotham Hill, Bristol, BS6 6JY
Left Handed Giant Brew Pub
Why: Housed in a gorgeous old wharf building this independent brewery has an incredible double height layout and one whole side opens up to allow for al fresco drinking in the summer. Expect a range of delicious beers, with a regularly-changing menu highlighting the local team’s brewing efforts. There’s great pizza on offer too, which is never a bad thing.
Where: Wadehurst Industrial Park, Unit 3 + 9, St Philips Road, Bristol, BS2 0JE
Best pubs in Bristol
Will any bar ever beat a good old fashioned pub? These great British boozers all serve up a great selection of drinks, making sure your aunt will be able to get her chilled glass of white wine while you can enjoy a whiskey on the rocks, as well as tasty food. If you’re looking for a bar to visit on a Sunday, a pub makes the perfect swap - giving you the fabulous addition to your day of a roast dinner.
The Kensington Arms
Why: Sometimes you can’t beat a good old gastro pub, and The Kensington Arms offers both delicious food and a considered drinks menu. There are cocktails to start and a well-rounded wine list too. As an aperitif we love their Quince and Elderflower Collins while on the wine list there’s a beautifully light English sparkling wine. The food here changes seasonally, so if you’re going to combine your bar visit with a bite to eat it’s best to check the menu. You can expect dishes like devilled duck livers and mushrooms on toast to start, and a crispy curried chickpea burger with smoked cheddar, slaw and chips for mains.
Where: 35-37 Stanley Road, Bristol, BS6 6NP
Why: The Grace offers up a properly British pub experience, with a flagged floor, wooden tables, fireplaces and a convivial atmosphere. The drinks on offer are varied, as you might expect at any pub, and include real ale options, all kinds of craft beers, small-batch ciders and a well-rounded wine list. In the summer you’re able to sit outdoors too, thanks to a beer garden. As with a few other of our favourite pubs in Bristol this one has a good food menu too, showcasing dishes that use locally and ethically sourced ingredients, which are free range and organic where possible.
Where: 197 Gloucester Road, Bristol, BS7 8BG
The Pump House
Why: This gorgeous old pub sits on the water looking over the River Avon, making it the perfect place to spend a summer afternoon. With a passion for local produce across their food and drinks offering they serve up Bristol-brewed beer and ales from Butcombe. Wine is sourced from small suppliers who promote sustainability and there’s a whole cocktail list dedicated just to gin. If you’re planning to start your night off with some food then you can expect a seasonally-changing menu that champions quality ingredients. Recent dishes include Cornish cod with confit chicken and ray wing with Jersey royals.
Where: Merchants Road, Bristol, BS8 4PZ
The Knowle Pub
Why: The Knowle feels very much like your local, with huge Victorian windows that offer up beautiful views of the city and a cosy, eclectically styled interior with wooden-clad walls. There’s also a small terrace out the back, which is a hidden Bristol gem when the sun makes an appearance. You’ll find all the classic drinks listings here, with everything on offer from wine and gin and tonics, to soft drinks and beers. There’s something for everyone. On the food menu there are burgers, steaks and classic British dishes like fish and chips, so there’s the potential to make this bar in Bristol an all-day destination.
Where: Leighton Road, Bristol, BS4 2LL
Best party bars Bristol
Sometimes when you’re looking for a good bar the thing at the top of your list will be atmosphere. These busy, bustling bars in Bristol might not serve up the fanciest cocktails or have refined snack menus, but what they lack there they make up for with their party vibes. Grab your gang and head down to one of these spots for a bit of a drink and a dance.
Why: If you’re looking for a spot to start a night of partying off then we would suggest Amoeba. With a typically rowdy crowd this Bristol bar is always fun and full of friends you’re yet to meet. It’s small, cosy and charming inside and you’ll find classic cocktails on the loaded menu – like a Tom Collins or Sidecar. The best bit is that up until 9pm you’ll be able to buy two of them for £9.
Where: 10 King's Road, Bristol, BS8 4AB
Why: This party spot is somewhere to end up on a night out. With live music, DJS, and party nights on regular rotation you should find something to suit your style. Open seven days a week, some nights until 4am, this probably isn’t the spot to bring your parents to, but is fun if a crowd of your friends are celebrating a birthday or event. The drinks options themselves are standard, so expect branded alcohol and a range of mixers.
Where: 32 St Nicholas Street, Bristol, BS1 1TG
Best bars in Bristol for food
We’re always thinking about our stomachs, because who else will think of them if we don’t? We definitely think a good bar should be judged equally on their food as their drinks. Our pick of places below all have incredible food menus to help you keep hunger at bay while you indulge in a few drinks.
Why: This popular bar serves food and drinks all day and has quite the extensive menu. You can expect plenty of choices when it comes to beer, cider, wine and spirits, as well as a generously-sized cocktail section. Favourites include a Pear and Elderflower Collins and a Blood Orange Fizz. There’s a rooftop here too, so it’s a great spot for sunny days with its fab views over central Bristol. When it comes to the food there are flatbreads with all kinds of toppings, served with coleslaw and chilli sauce (our favourite has to be the deep fried king prawns with avocado, smoked chilli mayo, lettuce, tomato and cucumber) and dishes cooked over a grill, like a BBQ fillet of sea bream or a rotisserie shoulder of lamb.
Where: Podium Level, Colston Tower, Colston Street, Bristol, BS1 4XE
Why: Set within three interlinking yurt tents this bar and restaurant space definitely offers something a bit different to your usual drinking spot. The drinks are a lovely mix of well-known brands and smaller independent names, while the food is made from carefully sourced ingredients, with a strong focus on seasonality. The space is available for hire too, making it the perfect place to host a birthday with a difference or a quirky wedding.
Where: Clock Tower Yard, Bristol, BS1 6QH
Why: Everyone knows drinks taste better when there are snacks involved, and here there’s a whole tapas menu to accompany your choice from the bar. Set in an old bank on Regent Street the atmosphere is friendly and there’s a lovely rustic Spanish theme to the décor, with white subway tiles lining the walls and petrol blue leather banquette-style seating. If you’re here for the food as much as the drinks then you’ll find delicious bites like wild prawns with confit shallots, garlic and lemon or simply grilled padron peppers with olive oil and sea salt. There’s also a whole vegan menu too.
Where: 18-20 Regent Street, Bristol, BS8 4HG
Best bars in Bristol opening in 2019
If like us you’re always keen to stay ‘in the know’ then this section is for you. This handful of new bars in Bristol for 2019 is an eclectic bunch, offering up all sorts of new kinds of experiences for punters. We can’t wait to give them a try, but in the meantime here’s a little roundup of what to expect when they finally open.
Artist Residence hotel bar
Why: Artist Residence hotels are known for their modern twist on classic interiors, which give a pretty chic result. And they do a good line in wine-ing and dine-ing too. We expect Bristol to be up there with the best of them, and if previous locations are anything to go by the bar will become a destination in its own right.
Why: This bar and restaurant comes from the team behind other Bristol bar hot spots, like the Milk Thistle and Bambalan, so we’re expecting good things. The bar is due to be built in six shipping containers and alongside their drinks they’ll be serving Japanese food made from British ingredients. We can’t wait for this one.
Why: There’s a bit of dispute as to when exactly The Alchemist will be coming to Bristol, but the cocktail bar chain tweeted in April 2018 that they’d be opening ‘early next year’. If and when they decide to open we’re sure their signature theatrical style will be adhered to, with a creative and flamboyant cocktail menu taking centre stage.
Why: As an award-winning bar that already has a firm following in London, the team behind Black Rock are taking their offering West. Specialising in whiskey, with the existing Black rock housing over 250 of them, this bar will also offer drinkers some really good draught beers. There’ll be their signature Scottish snacking menu too – that includes haggis balls, soda bread with seaweed butter and Oysters.
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