GF Guides | The best cocktail bars in Brighton

by - August 14, 2014

The party town of Brighton is certainly not short of a place or two to drink. Saying that, the majority of bars cater for the influx of stag and hen parties and mainstream clubbers that want their drinks cheap and cheerful. But if you prefer your poison refined and a little more exclusive then these bars are worth noting for your black book.

Don’t let the fact that Plateau is primarily a small plate French restaurant put you off. In the evening, the vibe is stylish yet relaxed and the small bar to one side of the venue is definitely worth propping up. Although notorious for their carefully sourced organic, biodynamic and natural wine from small-scale producers, the cocktail menu is just as considered. Some of the drinks have a prohibition-era feel to them and others are 40s recipes from the cocktail masters.

Try the Satan’s Whiskers (gin, orange curacao, dry and sweet vermouth, fresh orange juice and orange bitters) or the “odd-ball” Pan American Clipper (le lieu calvados, fresh lime, grenadine and absinthe). And if you get hungry there is far more on offer than a packet of ready salted to satisfy cravings. Bonus.

Cocktail Shack
The newest and possibly the best boutique hotel bar in the city, you’ll find the Cocktail Shack nestled away in The Artist Residence on Regency Square. Grown up yet creative and convivial, this is the sort of place to sip your drinks if you want to avoid the mainstream mojito masses. This place perfectly reflects Brighton vibe, heck, part of it is even made with wood reclaimed from the West Pier.

Although the Shack’s tipple of choice is their sizable rum list, the cocktail menu covers some cherry picked classics and their own more adventurous house originals. Kick back and relax with a Tequila Negroni or for something a little adventurous for the taste buds, go for a Truth Be Told (gin, pineapple, coriander, jalapeno water and egg white).

Plotting Parlour
Ok, I clutched my bag extra tight under my armon the way here the first time, but no fear! This is a real gem down a dingy Kemptown backstreet. Intimate and beautifully decorated, there's something of a modern speakeasy about it. Expect classics alongside their own creations like The Hemingway Daiquiri (Ron Abuelo rum, Maraschino cherry liqueur, grapefruit, lime and grenadine) or The Busby Sling (Beefeater, grapefruit, cherry liqueur, grenadine, lemon and soda).

It's one of the newer bars but already up there with the best.

Brighton Rocks
I love the relaxed vibe of Brighton Rocks, a cocktail bar you can go to in your flip flops without anyone batting an eyelid. Away from the very centre of the city in Kemptown, it's worth the short distance to get to. They also champion a few of our local spirits like the Sussex Martini using my favourite Blackdown Gin.

The New Club
With views of the sea and the remains of the West Pier, The New Club should be a must for every visitor to Brighton. As well as serving gourmet American fast food, the bar is just as visit worthy. With a very cool NYC eatery style, they are now gaining national recognition for the effort they are putting into their food and drink. The cocktail menu is divided into three sections. Start the evening with their fresher, pre-dinner drinks like the Tre Bellini (crème de peche, peach puree, peach bitters and Prosecco) or one of their whiskey flight selections. The Club Classics list includes twists like Cherry Cola Bottle (Amaretto, Cherry Heering, cola syrup and lemon juice).

And finally, top the night off with the dessert cocktails, which along with the usual sweet options list drinks like the Rock & Rye (Rye Whiskey infused for a few days with Rock Candy, Orange, Lemon and Maraschino Cherries, served with an Aperol rinse).

BYOC (Bring Your Own Cocktail)
This is a relatively new concept to Brighton. Hidden away (behind the façade of a faux juice bar) in The Lanes, most people would pass it by which is part of the appeal, feeling almost a little illicit. Booking is advised and a set fee of £20 will buy you two hours of expert mixology. Unusually, you are requested to bring the alcohol but your drinks will be crafted to your individual taste preferences using their own in-house created syrups and bitters or pressed fresh fruit and vegetable juices. Not having to read lengthy cocktail menus is worth the entrance fee in itself and you will not be able to get tailor made drinks like these anywhere else.

The moody, candlelit interior makes for one of the most glamorous bars in the city, with quirky details and drinks served in vintage glassware. There’s even a tiny six seat cinema squirrelled in there as well. A unique experience in a modern speakeasy.

The Ginger Pig and The Ginger Dog
Both of these branches of the local Gingerman Group have each created a list of classic and bespoke cocktails. Being well known for their excellent food, a good portion of the liquid menu is dedicated to dessert themed drinks. Try the Salt Caramel Martini with toffee vodka, Werther’s Original and a salt rim or the Créme Anglaise Martini with vanilla vodka and Advocaat. Ideal to pop in as an after dinner treat even if you are not dining in the restaurant.

Boho Gelato
Boho Gelato creates the best gelato and sorbet in Brighton with incredible flavour combinations. And there is nothing better than great gelato, that is until you use it to make frozen cocktails! This gelateria appears as a pop-up bar at Sussex Slice once a month with a changing list of dairy and non-dairy cocktails. Gin and cucumber slushy? Yes please.

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