Hundreds of bartenders and drinks experts from across the UK voted for the venues they believed were deserving of a spot on the UK’s Top 50 Cocktail Bars list. And guess what – they’re not all in London. In fact, Edinburgh's Bramble took top spot, but we’ve rounded up all the ones you need to know – highlighting the very best bars across the North East and Yorkshire.
Number eight on the list and leading the way for Yorkshire is the brilliant Epicurus bar in Leeds. Go here for expertly shaken cocktails, jazz and brunch, and charcuterie platters – most of which can be enjoyed through until 3am. They do a really good Old Fashioned but if you’re on the hunt for something a little different – sample their General Manager’s favourite a Vieux Carré. The perfect mix of cognac, rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, bénédictine, peychaud's bitters and angostura bitters.
BLIND TYGER, LEEDS
The Blind Tyger in Leeds is 11th on the list. It’s a cocktail bar and drinking den tucked away above their sister bar Chida Cantina on Cross Belgrave Street in the Northern Quarter of Leeds. They focus on brilliant gin cocktails from the classic Martini and Bramble to the Miss Marilyn – gin, peach liqueur, brown orgeat and soda over ice.
What was once Leeds’ best kept secret has increasing become North’s most popular dance floor and cocktail lounge hitting number 13 (after their sister bar Blind Tyger). Offering two floors of funk, soul, blues, jazz and reggae, Lower Briggate’s Smokestack combines the city's most electric atmosphere with even better cocktails. Sample the Cane 'n' Coffee – made with Doorly's 5yr rum, coffee liqueur, sea salt porter syrup and a shot of espresso – a chilled salted caramel coffee with a kick.
THE POISON CABINET, NEWCASTLE
It’s cool, it’s quirky and if you haven’t heard of it before that’s because it’s hidden away below Bierrex. It’s ranked at 27th (the highest ranking of North East bars). Offering somewhere secretive, where time passes you by and where you can sip cocktails that are elegant or refreshing, bitter or tropical, basically whatever mood you’re in – they’ve got your poison.
HEDONIST PROJECT, LEEDS
This totally unique venue is at number 28. The Hedonist Project became the world’s first and only bar in 2015 to completely reinvent itself every quarter. It transforms with the seasons changing everything – the branding, décor, food and drink menus and even the staff uniforms. One thing’s consistent though – they serve some of the finest cocktails in Leeds and the UK.
VICE AND VIRTUE, LEEDS
Yet another brilliant cocktail bar (and restaurant) to storm the Leeds bar scene, Vice and Virtue made their way to a respectable number 34. They take their tipples seriously with a drinks encyclopedia that’s been created based on the experiences of their mixologists. Whether your drink of choice is wine, sake, sherry or one of their bespoke cocktails, be assured your choice has been curated and refined, however simple or complicated the drink may be, it’s going to be exceptional. We like the sound of Death’s Door gin shaken with Campari, a pistachio sherry and rose water.
ALL SEEING EYE, NEWCASTLE
Out of sight but certainly not out of mind, the All Seeing Eye is above sister bar the Blackie Boy and has been voted in at number 35. All drinks shaken and poured into a martini glass will give you a sense of sophistication and suave that will transport you all the way back to the prohibition era. It’s a really cool speakeasy-style bar decked out in 20s décor with a long list of imaginative drinks.
THE ALCHEMIST (GREEK STREET), LEEDS
There’s an unwritten rule when visiting one of The Alchemist bars that you can’t sip your cocktail without first snapping all the angles for Instagram or shooting a Boomerang as you clink glasses and say cheers – and with drinks that change colour, bubble, billow clouds of smoke and are layered in all kinds of delicious flavours – it would be rude not to really. The Greek Street bar has made it to number 38 and is well worth a visit.
THE BOTANIST, NEWCASTLE
A firm favourite in Newcastle’s city centre and number 44 on this list is The Botanist. It wasn’t just the talented musicians, the ginormous tree in the centre of the bar or their glorious rooftop terrance that’s gained them recognition – but the supreme list of carefully crafted cocktails they have on offer. We love the watering cans sharers, particularly ones brimming with Tanqueray gin, strawberry purée, fresh mint and cucumber.
EVIL EYE LOUNGE, YORK
Anywhere graced by Captain Jack Sparrow himself deserves to have a place on this list in our eyes. Evil Eye Lounge in York was said to have been a hit with Johnny Depp who stopped by the bar for a couple of tipples. It’s number 47 on the list and you can try a long list of tasty cocktails staying on or steering off the menu, the expert bar team are happy to shake you something to suit your palate.
Jalou have made their way to number 48 with a whole booklet of premium cocktails. We’ll be channeling our inner Bey with The Bee-yonce – a mix of cazcabel honey, apple liqueur and honey syrup topped with a honey foam and dusted with activated charcoal – we’d imagine it’ll have you crazy in love.
The only thing cooler than their creatively designed cocktail menu, comic book-style wallpaper and fairy-light draped terrace at this 49th ranked bar is the cocktails themselves. We recommend going on a Thursday where the only thing you should be throwing-back is a couple of their cocktails while they’re at two for £9.95.
The full list of Top 50 Cocktail Bar’s in the UK can be found at www.top50cocktailbars.com