Word by Samantha Harman
The first recorded cocktail was made in 1806, by a New York bartender who created a drink made of spirit, sugar, water and bitters for an editor who proclaimed the beverage to be ‘stimulating liquor’ in his column. We too are fans of stimulating liquor and have been beavering away to bring the best tried and tested cocktail bars in the city. For the past few months our editor has slipped in and out of establishments unannounced all for research purposes. Read on to discover our findings…
First up, the new kid in town – Brighton Cocktail Co, an exciting new space in Seven Dials, Brighton. Designed as a community-oriented space and a destination for cocktail enthusiasts for you to connect and enjoy the very best concoctions. For one, the manager is extremely knowledgeable when it comes to mixing and shaking. And two, Happy Hour is everyday between 4-7pm and the Parma Violet Delight is all kinds of naughty. Definitely going back as soon as possible.
Next it’s Twisted Lemon, formally known as Blind Lemon Alley, as the name used to suggest the venue is located at the end of a tiny alleyway. The day of our visit was packed, but we were happy to take an outside table and wait. Happy Hour means certain cocktails are less, so we ordered two at a time to save waiting. The flavours were there, and the drinks weren’t very strong. We left a lot less woozy than expected, but maybe that’s a good thing? The service was fabulous though and this is a lovely looking venue, very quirky.
The Plotting Parlour is the crème de la crème of cocktails bars and is Brighton’s best kept secret. You’d be forgiven for not knowing about the venue as it’s tucked away down a side Street, in between Bar Broadway and Revenge Bar and specialises in signature creations you won’t find anywhere else, serving locally sourced, ingredients with seasonal menu changes. First impressions? To say it’s boujee AF is an understatement. Clearly no money was spared on the interior which boasts a speakeasy theme, with a bronze metal fronted bar, high tables and stools on one side and intimate booths on the other, perfect for a clandestine meeting or hot date. We went with a Fear and Loathing; Mezcal, roasted pineapple and chilli, one word; delicious.
The ingredients were the perfect balance of sweet and slightly spicy with a hint of top quality tequila as the bass note. You get what you pay for here and although it isn’t cheap, the cocktails are worth it.
Blackrock Restaurants are behind Burnt Orange. The restaurant and cocktail bar opened its doors last year. Table booked, we arrived shortly before 10pm on a Saturday evening and the approach immediately gave holiday vibes. You enter through an intimate cobbled courtyard filled with bistro tables, glowing fairy lights and gorgeous climbing green foliage. This is clearly a place to come and enjoy the start of your weekend in style, a low-key party buzz before venturing further afield. We opted for a Sparkling Sorbet featuring; Cazcabel Honey, Lemon Cordial, Grapefruit Bitters, Prosecco and Passion Fruit Sorbet. The drink arrived in a long stemmed Coupe glass with its own spoon. A light lemon coloured liquid filled the interior with a generous ball of the aforementioned sorbet floating on top, which stirred into the cocktail. Delightful, make sure you book as this place is constantly busy.
Next location was Hove and most people are familiar with The Gin Tub on Church Road. However, it was our first visit and our experience definitely lived up to expectations. The interior is instagrammable with vintage telephones on each table so you can order your drinks, (just dial 0) a unique touch. Furthermore, Happy Hour is until 7pm. We opted for a Butterscotch White Russian which was a bit like drinking a Werthers sweet, but obvs alcoholic and delicious.
Technically not a cocktail bar, but we definitely need to give Halisco on Preston Street a mention, as they serve NINE different flavoured Margaritas, yes you read that right, nine. In our option this Mexican creation is the ultimate cocktail and always puts a smile on our face.
A final mentioned must be made about George Street Tap who have a classic cocktail menu that are two for one.
Finally, hats off to Paris Wine Bar this well loved hotspot in central Hove, has outside seating front and back where you can enjoy an amazing array of wines, beers and spirits while catching some rays. It had recently undergone a transformation with the rear garden now boasting a retractable sun roof and state of the art heating. Very friendly service and the Porn Star Martini really got the spot. Lunchtimes are better if you prefer a quieter catch up.