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 Bristol'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 Bristol. 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.

Everyone who is anyone knows about the Rummer. This central bar neighbouring the main thoroughfare of St Nicks market is popular with wedding parties either heading to or from the Registry Office as well as the weekend and after-work crowd. In the winter there is a proper fire, chesterfields and a couple of dogs that will keep you warm, in the summer the doors can be flung open, the outside tables commandeered and cocktails enjoyed in the oldest part of the city. Underneath the bar, the cavernous basement has gone from club, to dining room to micro gin distillery. You might also be interested to know that Bristol's newest gin distillery Bristol Dry Gin is located in the basement of The Rummer, you would be mad to not try a negroni or gin martini with a product made 8ft beneath your feet!

Read more about The Rummer (St Nicks Market)

There is nothing better than sipping cocktails in beautiful surroundings as far as we are concerned and there aren't many places more gorgeous than the inside of Bar 44 in Clifton. Pop in, choose your cocktails from their incredible list and relax in a booth to catch up with friends and maybe eye up the snacks menu, go on, treat yourself. The menu is vast but here are a few Wriggle faves are the Lychee & Ginger Collins and the Tropical Old-fashioned.

Read more about Bar 44 (Clifton)

The Clockwork Rose is a quirky little cocktail bar that's a dream destination for cocktail lovers and steam punk fans alike. The eclectic decorations and unique interiors will draw you in, just begging you to snap a photo of them for your Instagram. It's their deliciously creative cocktail menu that'll make you stay though – expect inventive, intriguing, and downright mad cocktails that are as tasty and addictive as they are unusual.

Read more about The Clockwork Rose (Centre)

One small step down Midland Road, another giant leap for Old Market's bar scene. To The Moon is a bright new star for Bristol to gaze toward when the sky turns twilight. It's a distinctive little space interspersed with reclaimed furniture, stunning wall murals painted by local artists and a bar-front pieced together with vintage copies of Rolling Stone magazine. The music is eclectic and brilliantly curated and there's a great selection of delicious artisan cocktails and local craft beer to enjoy as you nod along. Under a canopy of glass and bathed in natural moonlight, it’s a night-time hideaway you’ll want to get lost in. ​

Read more about To The Moon (Old Market)

A stalwart of the Whiteladies Road drinking scene, Flipside is the place to go if you like your bars easy to find, your drinks full of fun and your music turned up loud. With the interior decorated by a local street artist, the space is cool and relaxed with great views over Whiteladies Road from the huge windows up front. The back bar is groaning with spirits from all over the world and the staff are friendly, knowledgeable and will whip you up anything you like. Look out for the odd themed party and their sister bar, Faraway in the Old City.

Read more about Flipside Cocktail Club (Whiteladies Rd)

The Last Word is a quirky cocktail bar and restaurant in the very heart of Clifton Village offering some of the most alluring cocktails in Bristol. Despite being a rather new establishment, there’s already a buzz of excitement lingering at its doors. Amongst the hums of chatter you’re sure to see a few trendy sorts casually swigging a dirty martini, or turning their hand to something equally as sophisticated.

Read more about The Last Word (Clifton)

Up for some exceptionally amazing cocktails? Kinkajou got you covered! Tucked away at the top of Whiteladies Road, you'll find this great hidden gem of a bar. Just walk down a small set of stairs and ring the doorbell. At Kinkajou they have an abundance of cocktails, that will most certainly meet your expectations. Kinkajou has a very friendly and knowledgable staff, that are more than happy to help you choose the right cocktail for you.

Read more about Kinkajou Cocktail Bar (Whiteladies Road)

We all know that Pata Negra serves the best tapas and sherry but did you know upstairs is a cocktail bar with a dance floor? Noche Negra opens from 7pm on Fridays and Saturdays and serves fruity, Latin inspired cocktails which taste great and provide great dance fuel for when the DJs start later in the evening. There is plenty of seating if dancing isn't your bag and food isn't far away if the mood takes you.

Read more about Noche Negra (Upstairs at Pata Negra)

Milk Thistle is one of Bristol's biggest speakeasies so you'd be surprised how hidden this bar is. Find the door and ring the bell and if you're lucky you will be shown to one of three floors, each beautifully decorated with leather seats, rich mahogany walls and staircases, art and taxidermy. After being shown to your seat you will be served at the table by attentive staff who will talk you through your menu, recommend drinks and even make you a little something special if you have something in mind. Look out for Milk Thistle's special spirit clubs, an evening to try whisky and gin's from all over the world, meet the people that make them and have a few nibbles to line the stomach.

Read more about Milk Thistle (Central)

Red Light is a mismatch of 80's neon lights and grubby telephone boxes above ground leading to a 50's - 60's themed bar below. Another speakeasy you have to lift the receiver and hope they like the look of you before you're allowed through the door and down the staircase into the cavernous bar. The cocktails are punchy here with plenty of variety, house specials and theatrics to warrant the price tag. Eye up the furniture as you sip your drink and you will find some great inspiration for your Mad Men themed living room goals.

Read more about Red Light (Park Street)

Another speakeasy using the humble phone box as a teleportation device into a better world, Her Majesty's Secret Service (or HMSS as it's also known) is probably Bristol's most inventive cocktail bar. Sat at the entrance to the Clifton Down train station it's a popular haunt for commuters avoiding the first train home as well as weekend revelers. These guys have literally served a drink in a shoe (well a porcelain welly boot) and really enjoy being a little bit silly when it comes to serving up drinks to remember. If you prefer something a little more sensible than a drink poured into an old tin can, they have a fantastic menu that covers all basics and enjoyable twists on the classics. HMSS is one of my fave places to enjoy an old fashioned and a bowl of monkey nuts.

Read more about Her Majesty's Secret Service (Whiteladies Rd)

The original Prohibition bar, Hyde & Co, was one of Bristol's first hidden cocktail bars, and it's still just as popular today as it was when they first opened the door nearly seven years ago. Those in the know look out for the illuminated bowler hat, ring the bell and wait with anticipation, not knowing if there will be room at the inn for them. If you're lucky, you're ushered in and seated in a warmly lit bar, with the signature Hyde & Co rich mahogany, soft leather and taxidermy furniture fixings. The menu's are beautiful, the cocktails are potent but balanced and expertly made, which may lead to an evening lost as you eventually stumble back into the street to leave. Look out for their frequent spirit tasting evenings, they're some of the hottest tickets in town.

Read more about Hyde & Co (Park Street)

Filthy XIII is a no-nonsense, neighbourhood cocktail bar, simple as that. They offer great cocktails, coffee, and have just released their Hot Dogs ’n’ Snacks menu. The cocktail list focuses on simple yet bold flavours, set in a relaxed urban environment that pays homage to Stokes Croft, and Bristol as a whole. The crew of the real Filthy Thirteen liked their produce local, and so do these guys. Filthy’s ethos is to work with ‘good people who do good shit’; be that producers, brands, bartenders and other crafts alike. There’s a whole lot of Bristol love and darned tasty stuff.

Read more about Filthy XIII

This Low-key, unpretentious Clifton village bar is one of Bristol hidden gems. Amoeba has carved out a niche for itself serving great cocktails, wines and stocking a belting bottle fridge. The back bar is packed to bursting with only the best spirits money can buy, if the team don't rate it, they don't stock it ensuring everything you drink here is top notch. If you're not sure what you fancy, the staff are ready with great suggestions and are always happy to mix you up something if they've heard of it (unless its an espresso martini, they don't have a coffee machine so stop asking!). Try the house special, the Thai Daiquiri, if you want to be transported somewhere hot and tropical and enjoy it in their lovely little patio when the sun is shining.

Read more about Amoeba (Clifton Village)

Fancy a little bit of NYC in Bristol? Well, you've found it! The Bootlegger is a classy little joint situated at the top of Cheltenham Road. Blending Modern American and Prohibition styles, it packs a punch with beautifully prepared cocktails and live 1920s style swing! The Bootlegger claims to be the only "accessible speakeasy" in Bristol, doing away with the doorbells and hidden entrances but keeping the old time feel inside. There are over 90 cocktails to choose from here, all with inventive names and ingredients, a personal favourite is the Ginny Hendricks, a cocktail made with Hendricks gin and elder-flower.

Read more about The Bootlegger (Cheltenham Road)

Right in the heart of the Harbourside, Loose Cannon is a seriously stylish setting in which to enjoy some high quality cocktails. Forget the cheap, juice-filled, watery dishwater that so often masquerades as a cocktail these days – these drinks are decadent, delicious, and inventive. With highly trained bar staff who really know their stuff, making seasonal cocktails served in bespoke glassware, you're guaranteed to get something memorable. What's their style? Think crazy garnishes, names, and pop culture references. It's a place for quality drinks, and time with your mates. And don't worry - you can enjoy the fabulous cocktail displays even if you're not a fan yourself. If you want a pint, you can have one!We love that Loose Cannon infiltrates Millennium Square, bringing an independent creative spark to this relatively chainy area of Bristol.

Read more about Loose Cannon (Harbourside)

Everything here is ramped up to the nines, from the eclectic hodgepodge of antique musical instruments and disconcerting taxidermy, to the menu of modern small plates, the seductive bar, and the mixed bag of live music. And despite the razzle-dazzle, it's not all show here. Having been crowned Bristol's Best Bar at the Bristol Life Awards 2017 - these guys are standing their ground at the forefront of Bristol's buzzing bar scene.

Read more about The Old Bookshop

The Love Inn is a good size bar with small courtyard garden in Stokes Croft and not a swingers venue like the name might suggest. Owned by the group that brought you Love Saves the Day and See No Evil, they are offering great cocktails, food and live music in some superb surroundings. With a pop up kitchen, there is an opportunity to time your visit to coincide trying some of the best nomadic food in the city.

Read more about The Love Inn

Located in an old barristers chambers on Marsh Street, right in the heart of the Old City, not far from the popular drinking holes of King Street, lies a dedicated whisky bar. At centrepiece of the bar stands a 6 ton, 220 year old oak tree, quietly maturing a cocktail in its belly. Over 400 whiskies from all over the world are stocked in this plush bar. The knowledgable staff are on hand to help you figure out the best pick for you, so no need to be overwhelmed. Expect a selection of cocktails that are either (short and strong) or highballs (long and light). All of them based on great tasting whiskies from around the world.

Read more about Black Rock Bristol (Old City)

Crying Wolf believe in making things by hand - almost everything you see, taste and touch has been created by them or their talented friends. The food, cocktails and other drinks focus on fresh and local ingredients and suppliers, particularly independents from Bristol and its surrounding hills. All the juices are fresh-pressed to order, the syrups, shrubs, and cordials all made on site, and the bar food selection is sourced from the West Country’s finest producers.

Read more about Crying Wolf (Clifton)

Published -20th December 2019