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Oh my days. Well, Cocktails in the City was one of the best nights I’ve enjoyed in Bristol, ever. If you don’t know much about the event: It was Bristol’s biggest ever cocktail masterclass, bringing together some of the best cocktail bars in Bristol and offering them a chance to strut their stuff! And oh how they strutted!
The event was held at St George’s, which is the beautiful concert hall just off Park Street. It truly was an amazing venue and the ideal setting to showcase the cocktail bars. Tickets were £20, and I feel that was really good value for money. The ticket included 3 cocktails, which you had to make yourself (you could ask for it to be made for you, but then it’s not a master class is it), there were live demonstrations, and you got a cocktail book to take home. Plus, the atmosphere at the event was wonderful and all of the bars and their staff were lush.
All of the cocktails were fantastic, and each bar had a wonderful style, but I was asked to be a judge for the evening so had to have quite a critical eye. I also had to sample a lot of cocktails! It was tough, but I managed it, and luckily I had an eager group of friends to hand my cocktails to. I may be a lush but even I can’t drink that much without falling over and making a fool of myself.
There were 3 categories: Best Brand/Bar, Best Personality, and Best Cocktail.
So, my winners…..
Hands down. No competition. Hyde & Co.- Ok, I may be a little biased because this is my favourite bar in Bristol, ever, but nothing else came close for me. Actually, that’s a lie, The Colour Inn was very close (it’s got a kind of 80’s vibe to it, all very over the top and kind of tacky but in the best way! They’re not taking themselves too seriously. They served me a BRIGHT blue cosmo and their bar was covered in cocktail umbrellas and vibrant origami animals).
Sorry sidetracked, Hyde & Co is near the triangle and is in the style of an old speak easy (so think 1920’s). It’s quite small, and very dark, with lots of sneaky corners to hide in. It’s the perfect place to take people to show Bristol off a bit, especially if they love cocktails or anything vintage and dramatic. Also, ladies, the barmen are pretty special (and I know they are being paid to be charming, but they really work it). The cocktails are also fantastic and if you don’t know what you want the bar staff will just create something for you. I normally just go in, say the word “Gin”, and get something wonderful. Unless I’m playing gin face with the barmen – then it’s not so nice, but lots of fun. You have to call them to book a table, it gets really busy, and you have to have a table you are not allowed to stand, so call before you go – But definitely go! At Cocktails in the City they had re-recreated their bar and you were taken into a dark curtained off area. I thought this was very clever as you got a real sense of what the bar was like.
Again, it was very easy to pick this winner. The Milk Thistle. The Milk Thistle is actually the sister bar of Hyde & Co (honestly not being influenced by the owners here, I just love their style as it ticks all of my dramatic style boxes). The Milk Thistle is in the centre, near Nelson Street. It’s much larger than Hyde & Co but still has a great vintage style. What they did brilliantly well at Cocktails in the City was to put on a whole theatrical event! So, you had to sit around a table, that was covered in beautiful china, and the two barmen made the cocktail in front of you. But, they didn’t just talk through what was going into the cocktail, there was a whole show (there was also a drinking game involved). Plus, I’m sure they made the cocktail smoke at one point. Then, they served the cocktail in a cup and saucer – which I loved and it made me feel super fancy. Oh, also the cocktail had cider and gin in it, it’s like they saw me coming and put everything I like in one place – drama, vintage, cups and saucers, cider, and gin. The cocktail was called “Morning Mist” and described as “A Complex West Country Cocktail”.
Going back to Hyde & Co for this one! They did a cocktail called “Under the Clouds”, which was to die for. It was a mixture of rum, coconut water and pineapple, they smoked it and whatever they burnt to smoke it also had some really nice stuff in it (but I can’t remember what they told me, sorry, too many cocktails). All I can say is you really need to try this to understand what it tastes like as you don’t get what you expect. It’s super smooth and a bit like drinking caramel. Does not taste alcoholic, so watch out on this one!
So there you go! Those are my winners. Sorry that I had a Hyde & Co love in, but they really were the best for me. All of the bars were great though so I’d try and get to them all if you can. I might start a little cocktail tour actually. I think I’ll try the Colour Inn first.
Oh, I haven’t mentioned the Rummer yet, and I really should, as it’s one of the nicest places in Bristol. It’s in St Nicks Market and has the largest rum selection I have EVER seen. Also their bloody Mary is the best- so many bars get this drink wrong, which I think is a very bad sign. It’s not hard, just make sure it’s perfect.
Cocktails in the City are going to do more events like this across the country and I really hope they come back to Bristol! Go like them on facebook, follow their twitter, and keep an eye on what they are up to, I know we will be.
Here are some more photos of the night for you, enjoy. Fx