Mixologists in Bristol have been shaking (and stirring) up a storm on the country’s cocktail scene for years now. Whether you’re after somewhere classy to relax with a refreshing drink or an after-work party bar with eye-catching cocktails, the city is home to some of the top cocktail bars in the UK. With creative concoctions to taste dotted all over Bristol, this latest news only confirms what we’ve known for years.
Yesterday evening (February 6), Top 50 Cocktail Bars announced its winners for 2023 and a couple of Bristol spots featured. Hand-picked by industry experts, the Top 50 Cocktail Bars champions independent bars that make “Britain’s drinking scene exciting and innovative.” Organizers recruit over 100 industry experts to make up the voting academy, from bartenders and owners to writers and influencers to curate this extra special list.
Climbing nine spots from last year is Filthy XIII (18), which sits on Cheltenham Road. One of Bristol’s best-known independent cocktail bars, “Filthy XIII is an outstanding venue filled with personality and sensational cocktails.” Top 50 Cocktail Bars describes the venue as “as subdued and trendy with a black exterior featuring graffiti-style caricatures above the door.” It might be moodily lit inside, but there are lots of places for a small group to sit, relax and chat.
The menu is noted for its “distinct Asian vibe”. Recent highlights include the Lychee Martini, with Bombay Sapphire, lychee, Sauternes and fizz; the Absinthe Frappe is made with Hendrick’s Absinthe, melon, mint and ice; and the Scotch & Champagne – “one of the most exciting drinks on the menu, taking a popular Chinese serve and elevating it with an ultra-lux twist” – made from Glenmorangie 10, Moet & Chandon Imperial and soda.
A little further down the list, you’ll find another Bristol favourite: The Milk Thistle (40). This prohibition-style cocktail bar is hidden in plain sight, yet “exudes style and sophistication.” Top 50 Cocktail Bars calls The Milk Thistle, which is set over four floors in one of Bristol’s finest historic buildings, “a delight to drink in.”
The big little sister of Clifton’s Hyde & Co., The Milk Thistle offers reasonably priced classics and house specialities. Top 50 Cocktail Bars also notes a “relaxed atmosphere, where the team does the walking for you,” over four very different areas. Recent cocktails have included the Bristol Tea, “an old-fashioned style drink with a Bristolian twist”, and The Narrow Quay, “a Scottish camping experience disguised as a cocktail” using Horlicks.
Bath’s The Hideout (25), “a purveyor of fine whisky,” also featured among the Top 50 Cocktail Bars. If you would like to see the full Top 50 Cocktail Bars list head here.