You say mojito, we say “a Perfect Manhattan using Eagle Rare and Lillet, please. Oh and if you’ve got it, a dash of chocolate orange bitters.” 

To say we love cocktails would be an understatement. Fortunately Brighton's cocktail bars are both excellent and plentiful. We thought it was about time that we definitively created a must-visit list of the best cocktail bars in Brighton. 

Whether you're hankering for a proper old fashioned or a fruity tequila sunrise, we've whipped up a list that's got you covered.

Ever been to a sustainable cocktail bar before? Thought not. Enter, Gungho! Over on Preston Street lurks Gungho! – a cocktail bar that champions seasonal, local British produce and makes this the centre of its drinks. Think freshly squeezed and pressed juices, syrups and shrubs (that's cocktail speak for a kind of fruity sugar syrup – we think...) made from scratch, and then shaken and poured over hand-chipped blocks of ice. The result are some seriously stylish, seriously delicious and dangerously drinkable cocktails that'll have you coming back again, again, and again.

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Merkaba is one of Brighton's best-loved bars. Voted “Best Drinking Venue 2017”, it's the perfect place to celebrate with friends and family. At Merkaba, the ethos is that cocktails should be enjoyed in a beautiful, cultured and relaxed environment. Come and sample one of their artisan cocktails from the extensive and ever-changing menu.

Read more about Merkaba @ My Hotel

The Golden Pineapple on Ship Street is a relaxed neighbourhood cocktail bar, whipping up some quirky signature creations, gin flights and balloons, beers, and wines. If cocktails are calling, expect the likes of their Tropical Lady with GP Pineapple Spirit, Velvet Falernum, Raspberry, lime and egg white, or their Sazerac with Buffalo Trace, Martell VS, Pernod Absinthe, Sugar, and Bitters. These marvellous melodies will certainly send you sprightly on your merry way.

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You've probably whiled away many a night at The Joker – we've certainly lost more memories than we care to remember in that most gloriously boozy of establishments. What you might not realise, though, is that tucked away upstairs there lurks a fore more elegant, sophisticated going-on. Upstairs @ The Joker (it's a creative name, we know...) is a lovingly refurbished and invitingly luxurious affair – an elegant cocktail and games room that decorated to the most stunning degree. Expect lavish soft furnishings, plush velvet seating, high ceilings and a hand-carved rosewood bar. On the menu are a stunning array of classic cocktails – and a few cheeky twists, too. Cheers...

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Nifty prohibition touches (gin cocktails served in a brushed chrome teapot)? Check. The chance to slip on some Jazz-age vintage garms as you sup? Check. And they go so much further; consider the ‘Gentleman’s afternoon tea’ with real ale or a choice drop of whiskey. Vodka lovers will go head over heels for the 'Divinely Decadent 'or if your tipple of choice is gin, opt for the Shady Lady. We however have a penchant for drinkies of the rum kind so when we heard they were blending up a rum based cocktails infused with rooibos, vanilla and rhubarb our feet could't carry us fast enough. Tea cocktails are served in teapots so no one needs to know your drink is laced with alcohol and will be forgiven for thinking you are getting tipsy on tea alone.

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And now for something completely different. Don’t worry fellow imbibers, we haven’t gone rogue. Caffeine and cake whilst great, will never win our hearts like a great cocktail. True love lies with fabulously shaken gin, we all know that but if we're given the option to indulge in gooey, flourless chocolate brownies whilst sipping on imaginative cocktails, well. Count us in. Marwoods is bonkers. We say that with great affection. The décor is akin to the bedroom of the scary, next door kid in the first Toy Story movie that spliced and diced toys. If all that is a bit overwhelming, then they have a secret little patio which is a great sun trap. They often host acoustic or poetry nights and you can get all of this alternative, hipster culture whilst sipping on an alcoholic slush puppy. Although it has to be said, their current Aperol sorbet inspired cocktail is quite a sophisticated treat that even the most die-hard Brighton cocktail connoisseur would approve of. This is the place to be seen in Brighton. That is, if you can find it tucked away in its little nook on Ship Street.

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If you're after a cocktail and a small plate in an uber cool London Road setting, look no further than The Paradiso Social. They're an all day neighbourhood diner that serve high quality, locally sourced produce with exceptional attention to detail. Work your way through their luxurious cocktail list, maybe an Espresso Martini to start, a Akashi Whisky Sour in between and a decadent Old Fashioned to finish. One thing's for sure - whichever you chose, you're in for a real treat.

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At last year’s Brighton Bar Awards, these guys swept the board, winning Best Bar, Best Bartender, Best Newcomer and Best Bar Manager. A short stroll away from the mayhem of Brighton town centre, the cocktails here truly are on another level. Guests frequently comment on the quality of the staff; they are some of the most talented, knowledgeable and friendly staff your glass could desire. A recent addition to their extensive menu (which includes biodynamic wines, boutique ales as well as brilliant virgin cocktails) has shot straight on to our Top 10 list. The Indiana Jones inspired cocktail, “Great kid, don’t get cookie!” A rich and decadent mix of cookie infused rum (yes, that’s really possible), Greek yogurt, McChouffe reduction and cacao. It’s fair to say that The Plotting Parlour is for serious cocktail disciples. It’s best to reserve a table as this place is in demand but if you have to wait, we promise it’ll be worth it.

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Bar Valentino or simply Valentinos as it’s affectionately known by the locals is better than off the beaten track, it’s above it. Nestled above El Mexicano, Valentinos is a great bijou drinking den that fills up quickly on a weekend so arrive early. With an interior nod to Art Deco, you can sip from a great range of classics and a fair few original Brighton cocktail creations such as the “Eliza Day” which captures high summer in a glass with its Blackdown gin and delectable rose infused, French vermouth. They have regular “happy hours” during the week and even on a Sunday evening – how civilised. Our top tip? Get there early on a Sumer evening and forgo the cocktails and go for sheer decadence with a bottle of champagne on ice. Then bag a balcony seat to watch the sun set over the Pavilion Gardens. Date night perfection.

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Keeping up the slightly different theme, how about a Brighton cocktail bar where you supply the booze? Stay with us on this. BYOC (Bring Your Own Cocktail) set in the heart of The Lanes offers a completely original night out. Each guest pays a cover charge of £25 for a 2 hour time slot and brings their own booze. No, really stay with us. The wildly talented bar staff then create unique and personally tailored cocktails using your own ingredients and their vast range of mixers which are then all served, free of charge. You probably get the best out of BYOC when you go in a group so that you have a wide range to choose from. So just think, that bottle of cherry brandy and the forlorn half drunk Christmas cream sherry that have been sitting at the back of the cupboard finally have a use. Think of it as alcoholic recycling.

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Fancy a super friendly, quality bar in the heart of Kemptown? Great. Head on over to Brighton Rocks and ask for Fraser. A recent change in ownership has seen a cool interior makeover, complete with 4 foot high sugar skull. There’s a raised decked area out front for those warmer nights and plenty of seating inside. Boasting a huge range of gins, bourbons and vodkas, you’re bound to find something here to interest you. Speaking to co-owner, Janine, about her personal recommendation, she suggested a classic Old Fashioned (our favourite cocktail) but with the Brighton Rocks twist, grapefruit. And, if you’re looking for great food - not just your usual pub grub - then this place will blow you away. At the moment, the food is a bit of a locals only secret but with dishes like soft boiled Old Blue Legbar eggs with crispy spiralled yukon and duck fat soldiers, it’s not going to stay that way for long.

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A more recent addition to the Brighton cocktail bar scene, this is a fun little place out towards the up and coming London Road end of town that let’s you be the DJ. The bar’s jukebox is accessible via smartphones and mobile devices and means that you can rock out to a heady combination of Megadeth and Dolly Parton should you so want to. We also love that the cocktails are delivered to your table so you can get back to the conversation and not wait at the bar, getting elbowed by the impatient dude in the Fred Perry shirt. There’s always one. The cocktails are pretty damn tasty too, which given that it was set up by a world class Flair Champion finalist, is no real surprise. Just bear in mind that if it’s a first date night, your music selection is going to be on trial. Better get a round of Tuaca (the classic Brighton shot) in if you’re going to break out the Dion.

Read more about Shuffle

No Brighton cocktail bar list is complete without The Black Dove. Speakeasy inspired, this is one of those bars that draws you in, sweet talks your common sense and deposits you back on the street in the early hours wondering quite how your quiet Tuesday drink ended up with a plan being hatched to take over the world. You’ve been warned. The cocktails though are glorious. The bar staff are happy to create something just for you but don’t worry, the menu is packed with everything you could ever want. It’s one of the few cocktail bars in Brighton that can actually make a decent Manhattan and make sure that you try their Negroni’s, even the Guardian was impressed. Downstairs hosts a wide range of comedy nights and DJs - a great place to end a night - which is handy as you won’t be able to tear yourself away after the first “we’ll just have a quick one here before heading in to town.” Give in to The Dove.

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Ever had one of those days where you really need to blow off some steam, but you don't fancy losing your dignity in front of half of Brighton? Well luckily, the guys and girls at Twisted Lemon are here to help. Tucked down a bright yellow alleyway, the Lemon offers solace in seclusion, a cosy little tavern with a cocktail menu to die for. While you’ll find all your classic cocktails on their extensive menu, be prepared to discover more. The ‘killer zombie’ is a Brighton cocktail favourite and comes with its own pyrotechnics for added ‘wow’ factor. But the real treat comes in the bar’s Espresso Martini, made from Patron XO Café tequila. We might even say it's the best in Brighton. Quieter nights also offer complimentary nachos and olives, so it’s perfect for post-work drinks.

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The Fix is the newest addition to The Set's trio of venues. This uber trendy drinking spot is hidden away in The Artist Residence hotel on Regency Square. The menu is quaint in size but big, bold and brash in flavour. Choose from heady delights such as the Black Truffle Old Fashioned or Beetroot G&T. All the cocktails are seasonal as they take all the ingredients directly from the kitchen to minimise waste. Sustainable, tasty and gets us boozy, we're in!

Read more about The Fix

Published -25th May 2018