19 cool bars in Bristol to start (or finish) your night in

Our favourite bars in Bristol are a varied bunch, from trendy cocktail spots to good old fashioned pubs. Whatever you're after, we've got something for you.

Updated on • Written By Ellie Donnell

Map view
Close map
19 cool bars in Bristol to start (or finish) your night in

The best bars in Bristol are an eclectic bunch, spanning everything from elegant cocktail bars to proper pubs. There are cool spaces popping up all the time, so to ensure you’re always armed with the most up to date knowledge, we’ve compiled Bristol’s best bars into one complete guide.

When it comes to the best watering holes in the city, Bristol’s bars come in all shapes and sizes. There’s a cocktail bar that doubles as a micro-distillery, and activity bars where you can test your table tennis skills while you knock back a pint or two. If you’re a foodie, like us, then you can skip straight to the best bars in Bristol for food, which includes places that serve up next-level menus to enjoy while you drink. From a wine and tapas bar to a roof terrace serving up Mediterranean sharing plates, we’ve hand-picked the spots where the food is as good as the drinks.


A great bar isn’t just about what's on the menu though. Ambience and atmosphere are vital elements of any successful watering hole, and dictates the vibe of the entire evening. Whether you’re on the hunt for a dimly-lit cocktail bar to impress a hot date, or a buzzy pub that draws a decent crowd, we've made sure to source a range of spots suited to every occasion.

Whatever you’re looking for in a bar, we’re pretty sure you’ll find it below. Plus, to make your search even easier, we’ve separated out our selection using easy-to-locate headers. Discover the best bars in Bristol for cocktails, beer, activities and food - plus, where to head if you fancy a party! Skip straight to the best section if you already have an idea in mind, or have a scroll through from top to bottom for the full view of Bristol's best and brightest bars. Chin chin!


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 offer delicious drinks in a beautiful setting.

The Milk Thistle

cocktail on chess board

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 Ripple Tipple (vodka, white chocolate, raspberry, vanilla and egg) and Heroic Intervention (tequila, bourbon, El Bandarra rose, red pepper and white grapefruit).
Where: Quay Head House, Colston Avenue, BS1 1EB
Book now: The Milk Thistle

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, and each year it rolls out a new menu of custom creations based around a different concept. For 2023, the theme is Paranormal Sciences, with each quirky creation paired with a series of design and art images on the menu. Expect the weird and wacky, such as one named Time Spiral (the transportation of objects through time), and another called Notion Wave (a test for discovering psychic prowess). 
Where: The Basement, 2 Upper Byron Place, BS8 1JY
Book now: Hyde & Co

Her Majesty’s Secret Service

Why: This bar in Clifton has a retro British theme to it, as the name suggests, and deals in a seasonally-changing menu of delightful drinks. Its latest menu, A Celebration of Cocktails, is all about cocktail ancestry - where the classics came from and which one is right for you. From sour and sweet to dry and bitter, there's a drink for every taste, and you'll find both classics and twists up for grabs. Look out for the Twister, made with vodka, kiwi, strawberry, lime sherbet, egg white and cream and soda, and Scout's Honour, featuring mezcal, rinquinquin, marshmallow syrup and fresh lime juice. 
Where: Whiteladies Road, BS8 2PH
Book now: Her Majesty's Secret Service

Scarlet Lantern

Beautiful cocktails

Why: Previously known as Red Light, this speakeasy-style underground bar has been reincarnated as Scarlet Lantern, so named for the red lantern hanging outside on Unity Street. Once you've found the entrance and made your way downstairs, you'll be rewarded with some of Bristol’s finest cocktails. 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 space itself is warmly lit and decked out in textures of wood and leather. Because it's a relatively small space, we’d advise booking early to make sure you get a good spot.
Where: 1 Unity Street, BS1 5HH
Book now: Scarlet Lantern

The Rummer


Why: If there’s something we like more than a cocktail bar, it’s a cocktail bar combined with a micro distillery. Enter, The Rummer. Originally established in 1742, the cocktail bar was born back in 2003, and a micro distillery added to its armoury a few years later in 2017. Discover well over 500 gins, rums and whiskeys here, which are used to make a lengthy selection of custom cocktails. We like the drinks on its Bristol Twists list, which includes the likes of a French Lemonty Five made with lemon and lemongrass gin, lemon, lemongrass syrup and Prosecco.
Where: All Saints Lane, Old, BS1 1JH
Book now: The Rummer

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 in each.
Where: 16 St Stephen's Street, BS1 1JR
Book now: The Clockwork Rose

Loose Cannon

Cocktails and bar area

Why: Set on Bristol Harbourside, this independent bar boasts a talented team 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. We love its commitment to sustainability too, working with technology company ecoSPIRITS to reduce packaging waste and transport. It also celebrates local artists by displaying artwork on the walls, all of which are available to buy if you like what you see. 
Where: Unit 1b, 8 Millennium Promenade, BS1 5SZ
Book now: Loose Cannon

London Cocktail Club Bristol

Bar area

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, with flamingo patterned wall paper, and there’s always a great playlist on the go. A daily happy hour until 8pm keeps punters coming back for more, but our favourite offering is its 'Cocktail Creator' which lets you make your own creation for just a fiver. Choose your favourite spirit, flavouring and glass! 
Where: 37 Triangle W, BS8 1ER
Book now: London Cocktail Club Bristol

The Lost & Found

killer cocktails

What: With sites in Leeds, Birmingham, Sheffield and Bristol, The Lost & Found is clearly doing something right. We bet it has something to do with its glamorous décor, sophisticated atmosphere and inventive cocktails. Even its G&T list is pimped with home-made syrups, bitters and fresh garnishes. On the cocktail front, discover twists on a classic, like a Picante Margarita, and totally unique creations, such as a Strawberry Bon Bon, featuring Stoli Vanil vodka, Licor 43, strawberry, lemon, soda and, yes, a strawberry bon bon.
Where: 85 Queens Road, BS8 1QS
Book now: The Lost & Found

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.  


Games room at pub

Why: We’re always fans of an activity at a bar, and Kongs combines 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 everyone to compete against each other on various games – there are fighting ones, puzzles and old school classics amongst scrollers and racing games. Its craft beer list is a reason to visit in itself, and food is provided by an ever-changing line-up of guest pop ups.
Where: 13-15 King Street, BS1 4EF
Book now: Kongs

The Apple

People drinking outside the apple

What: Does drinking on a boat count as an activity? This converted Dutch barge specialises in ciders and perries, and is anchored just around the corner from the Bristol Old Vic. For those who struggle to nab a seat on the top deck, and you probably will in high season, there are benches just outside where you can grab a pint and enjoy views of the water.
Where: Welsh Back, BS1 4SB
Book now: The Apple

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.

Brewhouse and Kitchen

A group cheersing

Why: Although Brewhouse & Kitchen is a mini chain brand, its ethos has remained very-much like that of a small independent bar. It brews all its own unique craft beers on-site, and even goes to the trouble of matching specific beers to individual dishes on its food menu. Don't miss its 'Hoppy Hour', Sunday to Thursday 4-7pm, which includes a great range of local brews for less than four quid each!
Where: 31-35 Cotham Hill, BS6 6JY
Book now: Brewhouse and Kitchen

Left Handed Giant Brew Pub

Views of the water

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, BS2 0JE
Book now: Left Hand Giant Brewpub

Best pubs in Bristol

Will any bar ever beat a good old fashioned pub? These great British boozers all serve up a decent selection of drinks, making sure your aunt will be able to enjoy 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 - and you can even indulge in a slap-up roast dinner if you fancy.

The Kensington Arms

Beautiful fish dish

Why: Sometimes you can’t beat a good old gastropub, and The Kensington Arms offers both delicious food and a considered drinks menu to boot. There's a concise cocktail list of classic tipples, from a Negroni to an Old Fashioned, as well as a well-rounded wine list which includes English fizz and orange wines. 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 beforehand. Enjoy a few snacks with your drink of choice, or go for the full a la carte experience with dishes such as whole lemon sole meuniere with brown shrimp and tarragon.
Where: 35-37 Stanley Road, BS6 6NP
Book now: The Kensingtom Arms

The Grace

Traditional pub

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, BS7 8BG
Book now: The Grace

The Pump House

Spirits on shelves

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 its food and drink offering, it serves 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. 
Where: Merchants Road, BS8 4PZ
Book now: The Pump House

Best party bars Bristol

These bustling bars in Bristol serve up some of the best party vibes in town. Grab your gang and head down to one of these spots for a drink and a dance.

Mr Wolf’s

People drinking outside

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, BS1 1TG
Book now: Mr Wolf's

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 its food as its drinks. Our pick of places below all offer incredible food menus to help you keep hunger at bay while you indulge in a few drinks.


Aperol Spritz

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 Sand, Sea and Spritzi, and Dr Feel Good. There’s a rooftop here too, so it’s a great spot for sunny days, and when it comes to the food there are mezze plates, sharing boards, gyros, burgers and sourdough pizzas. 
Where: Podium Level, Colston Tower, Colston Street, BS1 4XE
Book now: Bambalan

Bar 44

Drinks and small plates

Why: Everyone knows drinks taste better when there are snacks involved, and at Bar 44 there’s a whole tapas menu to accompany your choice from the bar. Set in an old bank on Regent Street, 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 tuna tartare with crispy olive oil potato and spring onion, and wide red prawns with olive oil, chilli and garlic. There’s also a whole vegan menu too.
Where: 18-20 Regent Street, BS8 4HG
Book now: Bar 44

Expecting a sore head following your night out? Check out our round up of Bristol's best brunches, which are guaranteed to perk you up after a big night out.

Join SquareMeal Rewards

Collect points, worth at least £1, every time you book online and dine at a participating restaurant.

Start Collecting Points

Already a member? Sign in