1. Bar Swift, London
The dream team behind Night Jar and Oriole (if you have’t been to these bars, add them to the list too) opened up Swift late last year and it’s already looking set to be one of the buzziest bars of 2017.
The interiors are gorgeous, and better still, the cocktails arrive quickly (hence the name) – no fiddly garnishes, just solid flavours and minimal wait time. Plus, their Irish Coffee is probably the best you’ll find in the city, just sayin’.
2. The Dark Horse, Bath
Bath’s cocktail scene has boomed in the last year or so, and when I say “it’s boomed”, I mean, the Dark Horse opened there. Lovingly put together by its owner, Louis, this bar serves up brilliant cocktails based on the best of local ingredients. Plus, it’s just been named the fourth best new cocktail bar in the world, nbd.
3. Super Bario, Glasgow
Glasgow, light of my life, fire of my loins. The bar scene in this city has everything. Fancy cocktails, cosy pubs, down to earth boozers, and a healthy doze of the quirky. Case in point: Super Barios has just opened up, and combines booze with old school arcade games. Yes, that’s right you can get hammered and play Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Visit it now before the place is overrun.
4. Drugstore Social, Glasgow
If you’re looking for something a touch more refined though, head to Drugstore Social, the new cocktail bar on the block. Their cocktails are all about using the healthiest of locally foraged produce, so the drinks give you a buzz but not a guilt trip.
Want more Glasgow bars? Click here.
5. The Anchor Inn, Dorset
I mean. Look at it. It’s sodding beautiful. Also, this place runs one of the best pub bars I’ve heard of. They do all the usual – beer, wine, spirits…etc. But David behind the bar also whacks together absolutely killer cocktails. They’ve won a ton of awards (gastropub of the year, licensee of the year), and host regular tastings too. Get yourself down to the coast for a visit ASAP.
6. The Edgbaston, Birmingham
Everyone knows the famous London hotel bars; the Connaught, the American Bar, the Artesian…etc. But this gorgeous Birmingham hotel bar should definitely be on your radar too, mainly because of the absolutely cracking bar team behind it, headed up by James Bowker; a regular winner of cocktail competitions, and a finalist in last year’s World Class Bartender Of The Year.
For more Brummie cocktails, click here.
8. Bramble, Edinburgh
There’s a lot of cocktail bars to choose from if you’re in Edinburgh - the Bon Vivant, Last Word Saloon and The Devil’s Advocate are all brilliant picks. But Bramble, hidden in a basement under a clothes alteration shop is a great place to discover this year. It’s understated, the cocktails creative without ever being alienating, and last year it was listed as one of the world’s 50 best bars.
10. Love & Death Inc, Belfast
If you haven’t discovered Belfast’s food and drink scene yet, it’s time to get yourself initiated. The whole city is on the up and up, and now rivals many of the big UK cities as a top cultural destination. Start things off at Love & Death Inc: the cocktails are delicious, the atmosphere thriving, and you’d be hard pushed to find a more welcoming set of people.
Want more Belfast bars? Click here.
11. The Dead Canary, Cardiff
If you want a bar that goes the extra mile, Dead Canary is it. It’s gorgeous inside (hello Grade II listed building), and full of hand-picked bartenders that 1. know their stuff and 2. are committed to making sure your drink is the best you’ve ever had. And they play jazz. I don’t know what more you want from me here, friends.
12. Milk Thistle, Bristol
One of the best speakeasy-style bars you’ll ever visit, this sprawling bar is set out over four floors – but subtly hidden behind an easy to miss door. Ring the doorbell, and maybe they’ll let you in.
FYI, the Coffin Dodger (gin, strawberry vermouth, house sherry, lavender bitters, and whisky) is the best drink on the menu and I won’t be told otherwise.
Want more Bristol bars? Click here.
13. Three Sheets, London
No gimmicks or fancy tricks, just low key decor and solid cocktails it’ll be a pleasure to get three sheets to the wind on. Launching last year the food and drink here is all good, but it’s the cocktails you want to get on. Think “Foraged Martinis” of gin, infused ‘leaf vermouth’, garnished with a sprig of gypsophila, and French 75s pre-bottled in champagne bottles to pour freely at the table.
14. Seven Bro7hers, Manchester
Manchester does beer really bloody well. This new craft beer bar in the city proves it. They not only make their own stuff, they also serve a wide range of locally-sourced and international craft beers. I’d go for the fare from their micro-brewery though – their pale ale is a beautiful thing.
For more on craft beer in Manchester, click here.
15. Ray’s Bar, London
Pizza joint, Voodoo Ray’s, have just opened this basement cocktail bar in their Shoreditch branch. Inside you’ll find “three course cocktails” – drinks split into aperitifs, mains and desserts. For the full experience, you’ll need to settle in for the night, but that’s no real hardship given there’s unlimited pizza upstairs.
17. Every Cloud, London
Hackney is miles out, but this teeny tiny new bar may convince you the journey was worth it. They’ve got pretty wallpaper and Felix Cohen (formerly of the pop up, Manhattans Project) mixing up stellar cocktails. Head over for a chilled out evening sipping on original cocktails.
18. The Maven, Leeds
Leeds is a real hotspot of hidden bars just waiting to be discovered this year. This cocktail bar is easy to miss, despite being placed on bustling Call Lane (a great spot for a night out in Leeds btw), but if you head through its doorway at the start of the street you’ll find one of the coolest drinking spots in the city.
Pubs more your thing? Click here for the best pints in Leeds.
19. Lab 22, Cardiff
This mixology-focused bar is on the up and up. This is one seriously sexy bar, and a sexy bar that knows its cocktails to boot. Order the Foul Mouthed Padre (dark rum, cocoa bitters, velvet falernum) or the 43rd Cartel (tequila, curaçao, vanilla, blood orange) for a lesson in why the Welsh drink scene is not to be sniffed at.
20. Bunga Bunga Bar, London
Remember Cahoots? This is the new bar from the group behind the 1940s-themed secret underground bar, and guess what, it’s another secret underground bar. The tongue-in-cheek theme for this one is all things Italian, and the venue comes complete with a Sistine Chapel staircase, Berlusconi bellinis and a speedboat table.
Check out the video we made at the bar here.
21. Company Below, London
London undoubtedly dominates when it comes to cocktails, and Soho is the jewel of its crown. A cocktail bar treasure trove, you have to have something special to stand out here. And newly opened Company Below is pretty special. An intimate underground bar, with space for barely more than 20, it serves up cocktails that will wow you, without going mad on showy high tech drink techniques. Definitely search it out on your next Soho expedition.
22. Loki Wine Bar, Birmingham
If you’re into wine, you need to visit Loki this year. This brilliant wine bar has won 11 major national awards in the last three years, and believes “wine should be fun not stuffy”. Sign me up.
FYI, the tastings here are what really make this place. Get one of their taste cards, which lets you taste up to 40 different wines for as little as 69p per glass, before choosing your preferred bottle and heading upstairs to polish it off.
23. Blind Tyger, Leeds
You may have heard of Sandinista bar in Leeds, but have you heard of Blind Tyger? Located above Sandinista, with the street level entrance a fairly easy to miss door, it’s a corker of a cocktail bar.
The setting is intimate, done up to look like a 19th century drinking den, and the drinks menu is loaded with brilliant interpretations of classic cocktails (there’s absinthe-soaked cherries. I bloody love absinthe-soaked cherries).