The Century Bar, Perthshire ()The Century Bar, Perthshire () © Copyright

The 50 best bars in the UK

We've had a look around, and we reckon these are the 50 best places to drink in the UK.

At its very best, the bar is a sanctuary – a place to kick back and forget about the world. And whether you’re a suave gent who enjoys an Old Fashioned, a party animal who likes slamming back shooters, or the kind of fella who fancies exotic cocktails, there’s a perfect bar for you.

If you’re after the next great place to wile away the hours, we’ve found the best bars for any self-respecting drinker to enjoy. And don’t forget – ours is a Hanky Panky, if you’re buying. Prefer to make them yourself? Here's FS magazine's list of best drinks and where to get them.

NORTH WEST 

Dusk Til Pawn, Manchester ()

 

Dusk Til Pawn

Stevenson Square, Manchester

The Bar: Creative cocktail joint that, like all great speakeasies, is hidden behind an old pawn shop window. Free jukebox is a bonus.

The Buzz: Puts the quirk into quirky without pretentious waffle.

The Booze: They recommend the much-underrated ‘Surrender’ – crème de menthe with chipotle, dark chocolate, and half and half cream. 

 

Berry and Rye

48 Berry Street, Liverpool

The Bar: You have to knock on an unmarked door to get inside (assuming they like the look of you), where you’ll find tinkly jazz, dim lighting, and table service.

The Buzz: It’s like an actual bar from a 1930s gangster movie.

The Booze: Has a reputation for deivering a range of spectacular cocktails. Try a gin, lemon and raspberry Clover Club.

Cane and Grain, Manchester ()

 

Cane and Grain

49-51 Thomas Street, Manchester

The Bar: A Yankee Doodle three-in-one, with a skater-themed rib joint, a New York-style drinking den, and a relaxing tiki bar.

The Buzz: It’s rum, ribs, bourbon, and beer heaven. God bless America.

The Booze: Cocktail maestro Lyndon Higginson oversees the drinks, so you’ll be alright. 

The Pheasant Inn, Cumbria  ()

 

The Pheasant Inn

Bassenthwaite Lake, Cumbria

The Bar: Part of The Pheasant Hotel, a beautiful, wood-lined inn dating back 200 years.

The Buzz: The kind of place any man wants to see out his years, supping his way through a well-earned (and moderately sozzled) retirement.

The Booze: Has over 100 malts, plus a posh wine list from the hotel’s restaurant.

  

Some Place

43 Seel Street, Liverpool

The Bar: An absinthe emporium, open Wednesday to Saturday (as if anyone needs absinthe on a Monday anyway).

The Buzz: Like all great bars, it’s almost impossible to find. Follow the green light.

The Booze: Every possible absinthe-based concoction you can imagine. Try the Absinthe Sour – it’s surprisingly drinkable. 

El Bandito, Liverpool  ()

 

El Bandito

41b Slater Street, Liverpool

The Bar: Underground tequileria. With its colourful tiling, candlelit bar, and occasional piñatas, only a big moustache and a shootout could make this any more Mexican.

The Buzz: It’s a lively place and a welcoming crowd. Plus, the party goes on until 5am.

The Booze: Tequila, obviously. Watch out, because this one is going to hurt in the morning.

  

SCOTLAND

The Devil's advocate

9 Advocates close, Edinburgh  

The Bar: An old Victorian pumphouse on one of the city’s oldest closes.

The Buzz: It’s about quality and quantity, as the bar boasts over 300 types of whisky.

The Booze: Surprisingly, the jewel in the bar’s whisky crown isn’t something decidedly Scottish, but its popular (and ever-expanding) selection of Japanese whiskies. Get involved.

 

Orchid Aberdeen

53 Langstane Place, Aberdeen

The Bar: Cocktail hotspot that looks like the kind of place Prince might have lauded it up on his day off.

The Buzz: Shortlisted for an international cocktail-making contest last year.

The Booze: It’s the Granite City’s go-to venue for finely-tuned flavours. A vodka, vanilla and raspberry Pink Orchid goes down nicely.

 

The Old Hairdressers

27 Renfield Lane, Glasgow

The Bar: Mercifully not an awful concept bar that doubles up as a hairdresser’s, but a back-to-basics place with the pretention. Has a live venue and gallery space upstairs.

The Buzz: Brilliantly low-key and casual in an otherwise rowdy drinking area.

The Booze: Beer, wine and good old-fashioned spirits – refreshingly simple. 

The Century Bar, Perthshire ()

 

The Century Bar

Gleneagles Hotel, Perthshire

The Bar: Recently renovated and redesigned, it’s as elegant as drinking establishments get – a true class act.

The Buzz: One of Scotland’s most iconic bars, renamed as the Century Bar to celebrate 100 years of seriously classy drinking.

The Booze: It’s actual whisky galore, with the finest collection this side of Hadrian’s Wall.

 

Bramble Bar

16A Queen Street, Edinburgh

The Bar: Tucked away underground, this is a warm and welcoming cellar with an ear for good soul music.

The Buzz: It’s already a world renowned bar, where they consider cocktail making an art form. Quite right, too.

The Booze: Try a barrel and bottle-aged Affinity Cocktail, which you can also take away in bottles.

 

WALES

The Dead Canary

Barrack Lane, Cardiff

The Bar: Speakeasy-style bar that’s about as exotic as Cardiff gets.

The Buzz: Shrouded in mystery when it opened, this has since earned a rep as a cool nightspot for upbeat vibes and innovative twists on classic cocktails.

The Booze: An Icelandic ‘Moonreyka’ from the Around The World selection.

 

Flickering Light

53 Wind Street, Swansea

The Bar: An eclectic curiosity, it’s packed with vintage collectibles and retro imagery. One of the bars is actually crafted from a 1950s truck.

The Buzz: Fun, frolics, and banging DJ sets.

The Booze: It’s a pretty standard selection of beer, wine, and cocktails, but the off-beat atmos makes it.

 

SOUTH COAST

Orange Rooms, Southampton ()

 

Orange Rooms

1-2 Vernon Walk, Southampton

The Bar: Plush, retro-style lounge bar with 1970s-style interior.

The Buzz: Famous for having different themed bar rooms, all of which are the kind of place Ron Burgandy might have kicked back with a flamboyant drink.

The Booze: It’s hard to resist party cocktails like Pornstar Martini and the Star Wars-happy Darth Mule. 

1812, Bournemouth ()

 

1812

Royal Exeter Hotel, Bournemouth

The Bar: Lounge bar and restaurant, which is set inside Bournemouth’s famous hotel.

The Buzz: It’s a historic spot for locals, but it’s also well-regarded for its top-notch cocktails and bartenders.

The Booze: They pride themselves on knocking up any booze-based creation you want.

 

Le Vignoble

New Cooperage, Plymouth

The Bar: Classically-styled wine bar in Plymouth’s reinvented gastro quarter.

The Buzz: If you’re dense about vino, there are experts on hand so that you can tell a cabernet from a Carlsberg.

The Booze: Carries bottles from countries not usually known for their wine-making prowess, including Thailand, Lebanon and Hungary. 

The Watering Hole, Cornwall ()

 

The Watering Hole

Perranporth Beach, Cornwall

The Bar: Beachside bar with gnarly coastal views.

The Buzz: Drinking on beautiful sands with a cool beer in your hand has to be tried. Before it starts chucking it down again, at least.

The Booze: Something from their range of local Cornish brewery Skinners – a Hops ’n’ Honey sweet ale or Betty Stogs bitter.

 

NORTHERN IRELAND

Sandinos Café-Bar

Water Street, Derry

The Bar: A bohemian hub of revolutionary spirit, named after a Nicaraguan rebel.

The Buzz: Great for music, hosting live jazz, tradition Irish folk, and DJ sets on weekends.

The Booze: A wide range of world beers, though even Che Guevara himself would have appreciated a Guinness when in Northern Ireland. 

The Merchant Hotel Cocktail Bar ()

 

The Merchant Hotel Cocktail Bar

16 Skipper Street, Belfast

The Bar: Upmarket establishment that really knows its stuff.

The Buzz: Drinking here is like an education in getting pissed.

The Booze: Whatever you choose, it will be an informed decision. The encyclopedic menu gives a detailed history lesson on each cocktail.

 

Apartment

2 Donegall Square West, Belfast

The Bar: Sophisticated spot that’s good for relaxing in the day, then getting into the spirit(s) at night.

The Buzz: Makes a cool, contemporary change from Irish-style pubs.

The Booze: Cocktails are mostly standard – Singapore slings, martinis – with some leftfield combos to mix it up, like the tequila-based ‘Mexican Breakfast’.

 

LONDON

Dandelyan, London ()

 

DandeLyan

Mondrian Hotel, London

The Bar: Second venue from cocktail genius Mr Lyan, with a chic retro interior by designer Tom Dixon.

The Buzz: Already a multiple-award winner. Plus, it feels like you’re in Mad Men.

The Booze: Botanical-influenced cocktails divided into Hunter, Gatherer, Shaman, and Explorer themes.

 

The American Bar

The Savoy Hotel, London

The Bar: Serving London’s most precision-perfect cocktails for over 100 years.

The Buzz: It’s a part of cocktail history, where the legendary Harry Craddock created bartender’s bible the Savoy Cocktail Book in the ’30s.

The Booze: Great for classics, from a vintage daiquiri (£600) to the more modest £18 ‘Abbey Road’. 

68 and Boston, London ()

 

68 and Boston

4-5 Greek Street, London

The Bar: Actually two bars, serving cocktails upstairs at Boston, and wine below at 68.

The Buzz: 68 is the real star – a cozy vino-loving venue, with a wine list managed by plonk expert Denise Medrano.

The Booze: With a flat rate of £20 on most bottles, the choice is yours. 

Punch room, London  ()

 

Punch Room

London Edition Hotel, 10 Berners St, London

The Bar: Swish private gentleman’s-style establishment, hidden away in the boutique London Edition Hotel. It’s reservation only.

The Buzz: Specialises in deliciously boozy punch, in single or group bowls.

The Booze: Punch, obviously, but try ‘Scandal Water’ – a custom designed pairing of punch, nibbles, and post tea. 

Dukes bar, London ()

 

Dukes Bar

Dukes Hotel, 35 St James Place, London

The Bar: A longtime haunt of London city folk, with a cigar and cognac garden for extra posh points.

The Buzz: Not just a fancy place, it’s also where 007 creator Ian Flemming used to drink.

The Booze: Dukes is famous for serving bloody strong martinis, hence Bond’s famous drink and catchphrase. Shaken, not stirred, naturally.

  

SOUTH EAST

Secret Cellar

43-45 Church Road, Tunbridge Wells

The Bar: Wine shop store room transformed into laid-back bar.

The Buzz: A much less informal atmosphere than your average hoity-toity wine bar.

The Booze: Only charges £6 corkage on any bottle, so get your money’s worth with a pricey pick.

 

The Plotting Parlour

6 Steine Street, Brighton

The Bar: Slickly designed cocktail joint with eye-catching décor and a sleek copper bar.

The Buzz: It’s won numerous awards, and has an easy-going atmosphere. Off the beaten track, table service-only, never too packed.

The Booze: Get a ‘Beekeeper’ – an irresistibly sweet jar of bourbon, honey, marmalade, and lemon.

 

Plateau

1 Bartholomews, Brighton

The Bar: French restaurant and bar with great wine and platters.

The Buzz: A fantastic spot for both boozy lunches and evening meals. Vibrant tunes to set the tone, so it’s always lively.

The Booze: Has arguably the best wine list in Brighton with a focus on organic and biodynamic bottles. 

Raoul's Bar and Liquor store, Oxford ()

 

Raoul’s Bar & Liquor Store

32 Walton Street, Oxford

The Bar: One of Oxford’s top cocktail joints since 1979.

The Buzz: Good spirits, 100% fruit juices, homemade ingredients, and professional bartenders only.

The Booze: Current faves include the fruity, gin-based ‘Wham Bar Collins’.

 

Gonzo’s Tea Room

68 London Street, Norwich

The Bar: Small bar with a big personality. Plastered in movie memorabilia and pop culture pics.

The Buzz: A drinking session that channels your inner geek. Disappointingly, not actually owned by Gonzo from The Muppets.

The Booze: Unsurprisingly, it’s more about bloody good cocktails than actual tea. 

1855, Oxford ()

 

1855

4 Oxford Castle, Oxford

The Bar: An authentic European-style wine bar in Oxford’s historic castle quarter.

The Buzz: Legs of ham hanging from the rafters, cheese platters, and bistro ambience… it’s a wine bar par excellence, as they’d say in France. Probably.

The Booze: Celebrate the continental feel with a dangerously quaffable Portuguese Rayo Tinto.

 

MIDLANDS

Corkers Champagne and Cocktail Longue

361 Wellingborough Road, Northampton

The Bar: Soothing piano music, tasty tapas, and… well, champagne and cocktails.

The Buzz: One of Northampton’s classiest bars, but still affordable.

The Booze: This one’s all about expertly mixed classics. 

Last chance saloon, Nottingham ()

 

Last Chance Saloon

47 Stoney Street, Nottingham

The Bar: The Old West comes to Nottingham.

The Buzz: More than a cheap gimmick, this isn’t just about swinging saloon doors and bacon snacks (though it does have those) – it’s essentially a bar dedicated to whisky.

The Booze: Stocks 50 different bourbons. Yee-haw indeed.

 

The Jekyll & Hyde

28 Steelhouse Lane, Birmingham

The Bar: A Victorian-themed haunt with two personalities – Mr Hyde’s main bar and Dr Jekyll’s gin parlour.

The Buzz: The selection of gin and gin cocktails is monstrous.

The Booze: Boasts 13 flavoursome G&T variations. Try the  Masons and Double Dutch tonic, with grapefruit and star anise. 

Laurent Perrier Champagne Bar, Birmingham ()

 

Laurent Perrier Champagne Bar

The Cube, 196 Wharfside St, Birmingham

The Bar: When it comes to champers, it doesn’t get more high-end. Literally – it’s 25 storeys up.

The Buzz: Stunning views of Birmingham. It’s also part of a swanky Marco Pierre White eatery. 

The Booze: Try a signature champagne cocktail – fizz-ness class all the way.

 

YORKSHIRE

The Fossgate Social

25 Fossgate, York

The Bar: A snug little bar masquerading as a coffee shop.

The Buzz: It’s a nicely chilled hangout at the forefront of the Fossgate area’s happening vibe.

The Booze: Cocktails, of course, but don’t miss out on a Brooklyn lager in a 16oz glass – New York-style drinking in an Old York venue.

 

Voodoo Café

Skinnergate, Darlington

The Bar: Mexican bar, café, and live music venue.

The Buzz: Awarded the best Latin restaurant outside London, with a reputation for sizzling grub and salsa-inducing cocktails.

The Booze: The drinks menu changes regularly, but with its Latino credentials, you can expect tequila and rum, and plenty of it.

 

North Bar

24 New Briggate, Leeds

The Bar: Longstanding Leeds institution that’s big on music, art and craft ale.

The Buzz: Once named the ‘best place to drink in Britain’. Can’t be bad, can it?

The Booze: Claims to stock the north’s most extensive range of beer. The big sell is its deliciously tempting selection of imported beers. 

Shuffledog, Leeds  ()

 

ShuffleDog

Crispin House, New York Road, Leeds

The Bar: A spacious BrewDog venue centred around three 22-foot shuffleboard tables – like a cross between bowls and air hockey.

The Buzz: It makes a nice change from all those bloody ping pong tables cluttering up most places.

The Booze: Try a BrewDog Kingpin, lager ‘reborn’ for the 21st Century.

 

Pivini

6 Patrick Pool, York

The Bar: Half-16th century pub, half-thoroughly modern craft specialist.

The Buzz: The award-winning range is mind-boggling – over 80 draught beers, local ales, continental lagers, American IPAs, ciders, and more.

The Booze: The choice is staggering, but we’re partial to the Italian Toccalmatto Brewery IPA.

 

Daisy’s

73-75 Division Street, Sheffield

The Bar: AKA ‘The calm above the storm’. One of the true speakeasies, nestled atop the more raucous Great Gatsby bar.

The Buzz: Need-to-know exclusivity – reservation only, its own special cocktail menu, and a chilled-out intimate setting. Honestly, that Gatsby lot downstairs don’t know what they’re missing.

The Booze: Shhhh. It’s a secret.

 

The Tramshed

51 Chesterfield Rd, Sheffield

The Bar: With its stripped-back wood and bare brick aesthetic, it’s an arty spot for thinkers and drinkers alike.

The Buzz: Everyone loves the specialty bar snack, the pinchos. Think a hipster-fied sausage on a stick.

The Booze: Dozens of bottled craft beers, plus a trusty selection from Sam Smith’s.

 

SOUTHWEST

Milk

8 Merchants Place, Reading

The Bar: A top night spot for music, comedy, and general rum-laced merriment.

The Buzz: Any place that has to print off a separate menu just for rum deserves your attention.

The Booze: There are over 60 rums to choose from. A 15-year-old Guyana El Dorado is the best of the lot. 

Red Light bar bristol ()

 

Red Light

1 Unity Street, Bristol

The Bar: A late-night hideaway that’s more 1950s chic meets softly-lit brothel sleaze.

The Buzz: The best-kept secret among Bristol’s booze connoisseurs. To find it, look out for the neon red light and payphone.

The Booze: Cocktails come under Foreplay, Sex or Cigarette. Try a ‘Guilty Pleasures’ – Caribbean scotch, rum, caramel liqueur, and bitters. 

Milk Thistle Bristol ()

 

Milk Thistle

Quay Head House, Bristol

The Bar: Four floors of opulent gentlemanly decadence, with a cocktail bar, private members’ club, and function rooms.

The Buzz: It feels like you’re drinking during the glory days of the Empire. Good old-fashioned British class.

The Booze: Try ‘The Full Windsor’ – rum, Dubonnet, lime, pineapple, absinthe, and bitters. One of many no-nonsense cocktails.

The Urban Standard, Bristol ()

 

The Urban Standard

35 Gloucester Road, Bristol

The Bar: A minimalist design and highly recommended kitchen.

The Buzz: Beer, burgers and banter in Bristol’s coolest drinking area. A great weekend destination and the perfect place to kick off ‘a big one’.

The Booze: Make it a ‘Double Standard’ – an exclusive IPA from Arbor.

 

NORTH EAST

Alvinos, Newcastle ()

 

Alvinos

88 Pilgrim Street, Newcastle

The Bar: Three-storey cocktail joint. Has something retro-cool stashed in every corner – pinball, foosball, and comic book covers plastered over the walls.

The Buzz: It’s for cool cats only.

The Booze: There are fun cocktails – usually offered on cartoon or gimmicky menus – alongside little-known craft micro breweries such as Fierce Beer.

 

No. 28

27-29 Nelson Street, Newcastle

The Bar: Stylish, open space with an oh-so-trendy industrial design. Blink while walking past, and you’ll miss it.

The Buzz: It’s the place to go for late-night drinking in central Newcastle – and has won the awards to prove it.

The Booze: Two hours of unlimited Prosecco for £20? Sounds like a challenge.

 

Photos: Alamy; Tom Elms; Berry and Rye, Dusk Til Pawn/Facebook; Google Maps; Alex Allwood; Alex Dixon; Rob Durston; Julie Howden; Jack Spicer Adams; Alamy; Niall Clutton; Paul Storrie; Tom Elms; Mark Newton; Chris Searle; Brett Symes  

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