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.

If wine's more your thang, check out our vino lovers guide or if you're craving a G&T crawl, we got you. 

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.

Read more about Gungho!

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.

Read more about The Golden Pineapple

Chef Will Denard and his long term kitchen and business partner Jack Southan have had quite the food journey. From East London brunches to heading up Brighton’s Plateau, via their string of successful and award-nominated street food offerings under the Wolfsmouth brand the boys have found a new home at The Paradiso Social. Fancy a cocktail? Wolfsmouth are offering you lucky bunch a mind-boggling offer of any cocktail for a mere £2! Yep, you read correctly, we're talking properly boozy, punchy cocktails, prepared with all the devotion and passion you could ever imagine. The dazzling cocktail menu changes weekly.

Read more about Wolfsmouth @ The Paradiso Social

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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You probably already know about Mrs Fitzherberts, not only for her passionate love affair which is at the core of Brighton’s history, but also the infamous pub sited two minutes from the Royal Pavilion, right in the heart of the city. But do you know about Mrs Fitz’s secret gardens, on the roof terrace, the perfect spot for an after-work cocktail under the stars? With a fantastic retractable roof, the terrace is open whatever the weather. At the ‘Lost Gardens of Fitzherbert’, as they are called, you can lay back and indulge in some properly amazing cocktails of all shapes and sizes, whether you like them sweet, or sour, so boozy they'll put hairs on your chest or more on the delicate size, simple or rather complex – Mrs Fitz will find your perfect fit.

Read more about Upstairs @ Mrs Fitzherberts

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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Fabrizio is Italian through and through with two generations of gelato creators in his family. His grandfather had a 'black cow' where he obtained the fresh milk he used to make his gelato. Michelle is a true Brightonian who loves all things Italian. Put them together and you get a fantastic Italian gelateria, pasticceria and wine bar in the heart of Brighton. Treat yourself to something a little bit boozy tonight at the lovely La Mucca Nera. There are 7 cocktails to choose from, and you can be sure that at least one of them will peak your interest! Yes Wriggler, you read correctly, this offer is for two cocktails, so feel free to bring a date and share this fantastic boozy evening with them, or just get yourself two cocktails, after all, you deserve them!

Read more about La Mucca Nera

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.

Read more about The Plotting Parlour

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.

Read more about Marwood

In the heart of the North Laine is where you'll find this 1920's inspired prohibition bar, complete with 'secret' door, ramshackle furniture, misty jazz sounds, and 300 strong spirited bar. Head to this speakeasy haunt to try out their special selection of gins mixed with fever tree tonic and served in beautiful vintage glasses. Or how about a gin cocktail, a French 75 or White Lady perhaps? Go on, you know you want to!

Read more about L’atelier Du Vin

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.

Read more about Bar Valentino

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.

Read more about BYOC

If you’re looking for authentic Mexican street food, ​then call off the search party. This place is Mexican owned, with Carlito himself at the helm. Born from a festival stall, Carlito Burrito serves up delicious Tacos, Burritos and Quesadillas made with the freshest of ingredients. It’s no wonder The Guardian voted their food amongst the best available at Glastonbury ‘14. There’s a hefty range of Tequilas, Mezcals, and Mexican Craft Beers to sample, and even an Oyster and Tequila Shooter for more adventurous diners. Friendly staff, unbeatable food and fantastic music makes this hidden gem a must-visit for all Brightonians. The fish tacos may well change your life, güey.

Read more about Carlito Burrito

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.

Read more about Brighton Rocks

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

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.

Read more about Twisted Lemon

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.

Read more about The Black Dove

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

One of Brighton’s classiest establishments, Bohemia is a hidden gem. Tucked away in the South Lanes, this is the perfect setting for that romantic first date, especially on a Thursday where you’ll find their jazz lounge and candle lit tables. Where they really excel is in their extensive cocktail and drinks menu - a real spectacle as most are served on dry ice. The porn-star martini floats a decadent combination of champagne, Absolut vanilla and passion fruit. The Smoked Coffee Old Fashioned packs a punch with spiced syrup and cinnamon bitters. What Bohemia bartenders don’t know about booze isn’t worth knowing. They rise to the challenge with stunning arrangements - not to mention the incredible Bakewell Sour, made with egg whites and bourbon infused cherries.

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Hixon Green pride themselves on only using the freshest ingredients for their carefully selected cocktail list. A Wriggle favourite is the 'Earl of Brighton' a noble cocktail combining the sweetness of an Earl Grey Infused Woodford Reserve, Bourbon and Caramel Syrup with the acidity of Cherry Brandy and Lemon Juice. For the sweet toothed among you, their 'Toblerone' cocktail is THE BEST. A decadent take on the classic Espresso Martini - a vail of Toblerone chocolate covers a blend of Baileys, Frangelico, Tia Maria, Fresh Cream & Honey. Heavenly.

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Relatively new to the Brighton foodie scene is Kujira, a modern Japanese ‘izakaya’ specializing in Robata and cocktails. A ‘Robata’ is a grill restaurant that uses a slow burning wood or coal technique without live flames to produce a rich, intense flavour unlike any other. Kujira is the perfect place to come with friends for Japanese style sharing plates and some of the best cocktails in the city. There are plenty of veggie, vegan and gluten-free dishes available and the impressive cocktail list has been curated by their in-house mixologist and utilises homemade botanicals, syrups, garnishes and flavours.

Read more about Kujira

This Hove restaurant in the trendy Brunswick area stands out from the crowd with its vintage signage and superb Victorian tiling. Start by taking a pew along the lengthy bar, where you can enjoy a few drinks and small plates and watch the chefs preparing food with a variety of world influences. It makes for quite the spectacle. The market cocktail menu dons fabulous classics such as your Old Fashioned and Margarita but our favourite is the Salted Caramel Martini with vodka, salted caramel liqueur and coffee, ding dong!

Read more about Market

A dapper looking lounge bar in the heart of Brighton’s Lanes that spans three floors and offers a choice of individually styled rooms and spaces to enjoy a quality food offering or an expertly mixed cocktail or two. This Brighton institution is stylish and sophisticated without being pretentious, so you’ll feel right at home wether you are catching up with a friend over a bottle of wine, hosting a family meal to celebrate an important occasion or wanting a top night out with your mates.

Read more about The Mesmerist

From the same stable as lauded local steak-sizzlers The Coal Shed comes this glamorous fish-focussed corner spot. Wisely ditching the chi-chi fussiness you’d expect from a former seafront hotel bar, exposed brick and pricey looking bronze lamps set the elegantly sparse contemporary tone. Get a seat on the right side of the room and gaze out at the West Pier or, according to taste, i360. Wines are nicely curated; for a sense of the cocktail offering observe half a dozen variations on a gin and tonic.

Read more about The Salt Room

What do you get if you mix an informed wine list, seasonal cocktails, industrial chic styling and classic French grub? No. Not that. You get Plateau. This small, elegant restaurant with large Georgian windows and high ceilings has consistently been a Brighton favourite for visitors and locals alike, enjoying universal acclaim from critics. Flexible to your needs, feel free to drop by for a quick drink and a nibble at the bar, or dive into one of their extensive sharing platters (plateaux), which change regularly based on what’s in season. All too aware of what a bad soundtrack can do to a meal, they spin their own records, showcasing a great selection of Jazz, World and Electronica.

Read more about Plateau

A trip across America introduced the soon-to-be owners of The New Club to the best of US diner culture, where ordinary, honest food using top quality ingredients - made from scratch with care - became a call to action. Having found their ideal (and derelict at the time) space with iconic views along the Brighton seafront in 2012, The New Club has blossomed into a well known burger, brunch, beer, coffee (Union) and all-things-US style favourite for tourists and locals alike. The breakfast martini with gin, grapefruit juice, lychee juice, citrus, bittered shrub and rose air is inspired by the bars of Manhattan Island; a morning cocktail from the city that never sleeps.

Read more about The New Club

Fine dining, and top-notch service; this is what awaits you at Drakes of Brighton. Their ideal seafront location offers the perfect ambience that makes your food even tastier and is perfect for a date night, or even just to enjoy a fancy night out with your friends and family. Menu-wise, Drakes of Brighton offers you a wonderfully varied selection of dishes, from decadent scallops and other seafood to decadent cocktails and a carefully curated wine list.

Read more about The Restaurant at Drakes

Positioned on a corner of the gorgeous South Laines, Food for Friends is tucked among so many restaurants that its easy to walk straight past its huge windows and beautifully-simple exterior and interior. However, this has become one of Wriggle's absolutely favourite vegetarian restaurants, with wonderfully-crafted flavours which could sway even the most stubborn of meat-eaters. After a dinner here, you'll be in need of one of their unreal cocktails, the Lavender Laine is a real crowd pleaser - Bombay Sapphire, apricot brandy, elderflower liquor, tonic and house white wine, lovely jubbly!

Read more about Food for Friends

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 bars that can actually make a decent Manhattan and make sure that you try their Negroni’s, even the Guardian was impressed.

Read more about The Black Dove

If you're a true gin fan, then pack up and prepare for a pilgrimage to The Gin Tub in Hove. Stocking well over 100 gins, they're serving up beautiful cocktails, craft beers and ales! The cocktails are so well made, they could convert even the staunchest gin critic. But their wide range of gins isn't the only thing that makes them stand out. You order drinks through a retro dial up telephone, linked directly to the bar. As if this wasn't enough to make the bar special, it's encased in copper, creating a Faraday Cage blocking mobile signals. So if you're feeling brave, you can dial up another table and get chatting. The perfect venue for classic cocktails, cheese boards, casual drinks and totally new experiences.

Read more about The Gin Tub

Date night? Your lucky suitor will surely put out after a trip here. Cynics may accuse this suave Hove hostelry of spreading itself thin – three distinct spaces; an airy brasserie, fairylit snug and a cold-pressed juice/cocktail/coffee bar. Plus a menu running the gauntlet of gastropub, burgers, Asian fusion and pan-European. But somehow Six pulls it off, in style. Staff are attentive, immaculately turned out and knowledgeable. They serve their own craft beer. Plating is extremely photogenic. They’re all about the organic seasonality. Ambience is classily unobtrusive pistachio/sage and posh wood. My date had wild boar terrine with house Pinot. And stayed over at mine.

Read more about Six

GB1’s philosophy is quality with simplicity. The 2 AA Rosette restaurant offers a fantastic choice of the finest and freshly caught seafood from Brighton’s shores. Executive Chef Alan White's brigade of passionate and inventive chefs add a contemporary touch to classic British cuisine and seafood favourites. Standout menu items include sea bass with suckling pig chorizo and the Wagyu burger. The seasonally changing menu also boasts vegetarian dishes, as well as other meats from the grill including Southdown’s rump of lamb, classic Sussex favourites, and more.

Read more about GB1 @ The Grand

POLPO is a bàcaro. This is a Venetian word to describe a humble restaurant serving simple food and good, young Italian wines. Their residency by the sea in quintessential English seaside town, Brighton, is a mere stone’s throw away from The Royal Pavilion and the Theatre Royal. They offer tasty small plates, Prosecco and Spritz in a setting that reflects the gloriously faded elegance of Venice.

Read more about Polpo

Sleek, stylish and innovative dining. Regularly voted Brighton’s best restaurant - with national acclaim rolling in - the small plates at 64 degrees are making a big bang in this city. Head chef and owner Michael Bremner has created a restaurant that both encompasses current food trends and takes them to a whole new level. Tucked away in The Lanes, the restaurant’s unassuming exterior suggests little of the magic that takes place inside, where the music and atmospheric lighting of the space make an event of every meal. The name comes from the temperature used to create their perfectly cooked “house egg”, and this attention to detail goes into every dish.

Read more about 64 Degrees

Creating the atmosphere of an informal pub in a calm but vibrant area, The Daddy Longlegs is an escape from city life. Based just off of Brighton seafront near the bustling Brighton Marina, the Daddy Longlegs is a welcoming pub that is all about quality. The service style is casual and friendly with premium spirits and interesting wines. Whilst creating a relaxed environment the pub strives to serve food and drink that is a cut above the rest. Whether you are in for a pint, a cocktail or a glass of local fizz, you will find what you are looking for somewhere in their extensive range.

Read more about The Daddy Longlegs

The Set is busy breaking down pre-conceptions about fine dining. Serving local and seasonal British food, they like to create original dishes using traditional flavour combinations. As the name suggests they work on a set menu basis giving diners the choice of three different menus each evening - with an optional wine pairing. With an open kitchen and informal style, the chefs like to interact with and inform their diners - but this is food that aims to keep you guessing, surprise the senses and use every weapon in the modern chef’s armoury (for good).

Read more about The Set

From the Del Boy to the Foxy Lady, the Dirty F’ckin Rotter to the Honey Apple Pie – there’s something to tickle every tastebud on the Pelirocco cocktail menu. Take a seat in the legendary hotel bar and work your way through the list to find your favourite or why not learn who to shake up your own? Their cocktail classes are very popular; led by expert staff you’ll be an aficionado in no time.

Read more about Hotel Pelirocco

Published -28th August 2019