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Top five bars in… Bristol, UK

With a glowing reputation for top quality restaurants, Bristol is now creeping up the ranks of the best UK cities for drinking, writes James Lawrence.

Whether it’s Clifton’s iconic suspension bridge, Brunel’s groundbreaking SS Great Britain or Redland’s leafy suburbs – everyone has a favourite part of Bristol. It’s a city that is awash with the past, but is renowned for its youthful vibe and energy, while ongoing rejuvenation has transformed derelict buildings into world­-class leisure attractions.

Samuel Johnson’s pithy observation that: “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life,” could so easily have been levied at Bristol. With two major universities and a significant number of students staying in the city after graduation, Bristol has become known for its alternative character, which is most evident in its famously vivid street-­art scene. For this we should also thank the city’s most famous – and inconspicuous – resident, the muralist Banksy. The hipster enclave of Stokes Croft is a veritable paradise for lovers of his work.

However, like all student towns, Bristol’s nightlife (at least in the city centre) has been focused on clubs and pubs – loud, fun and raucous for sure, but lacking in refinement. Yet in recent years savvy entrepreneurs have been bringing class to Bristol, including Andy Dodd, who opened the Faraway Cocktail Club in April this year. His sister project, the Flipside Cocktail Club, has been going strong for more than four years, with plans to expand outside of the city in 2019.

This is exactly what the city needed – a bold vision that has added variety, sophistication and spice to Bristol’s nightlife. London may grab all the headlines, but Bristol is increasingly giving the capital a serious run for its money in the mixology department.

Click through the following pages to see our top bars in Bristol, UK. 

Red Light

1 Unity Street

We love Red Light – a sophisticated cut above the noise and boisterous antics of Park Street. Outside the entrance you’ll find a payphone; press the button and hey presto, it’s a speakeasy-­style cocktail bar oozing class.

Customisable classics, innovative creations and excellent service ensure that Red Light has few peers in this area of Bristol.

Hyde & Co

The Basement, 2 Upper Byron Place

The secret’s already out but there are still plenty of reasons to visit Hyde & Co. One: the cocktails are sublime. Two: its list of local brews and Somerset cider is unbeatable. Three: the staff are awesome – friendly, charming and talented to a fault.

Small Bar

31 King Street

Craft beer aficionados need look no further – Small Bar makes no bones about its gargantuan list of IPAs, stouts, blonde beers and the like.

Meanwhile, an extra category – titled ‘crazy shit’ – includes 10% abv concoctions and hangovers on the house.

Faraway Cocktail Club

15 Small Street

Opened in April 2018, the Faraway Cocktail Club is one of the newest and best additions to the Bristol bar scene.

It’s a Latin­-themed party house in the centre of southwest England, complete with Tequila, pineapples aplenty and thumping bass.

The Milk Thistle

Quay Head House, Colston Avenue

With copious wood panelling and taxidermy, The Milk Thistle is a multi­-floor cocktail bar that is still one of Bristol’s finest, despite the introduction of new faces across the city.

The quality of mixology is exceptional, while sister restaurant The Ox offers mouth­watering prime streaks and quality IPAs on tap.

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