Wednesday, 19 December 2012

In Search of a Decent Cocktail in Bath

Sometimes you need a stiff drink.  After enduring a modern train journey (always disappointing after watching old films or a bit of Poirot) my Beloved and I arrived in the beautiful city of Bath on a particularly cold day, looking for something to warm our cockles.  Let this tale steer you away from establishments serving sub-standard cocktails.

First stop was Opa, a Greek themed bar and restaurant that is underground, with a river-side terrace that’s rather lovely in the summer.  Being winter, we stayed in by the open fire.  On the website this place looked very promising – the menu listed some very decent cocktails including a Sapphire Martini.  In reality, we were met with a plastic-coated sticky menu half its size, with the first cocktail on the list being the ‘Zombie’. My instinct was to decamp elsewhere immediately, but my other half thought I was judging harshly and prematurely.  I wasn't.  Clientele were loud, rugby types.  The stalls in the ladies’ were too small to accommodate a 1950’s petticoat.
Price: Cocktails were £5.95 but 2 for 1 until 7pm
Cocktail rating: 1 out of 5 
A spirit plus mixer does not equal a cocktail.

Next was Garfunkels, in a beautiful building near the Abbey.  I went for a Cosmopolitan and my other half a Long Island Iced Tea.  They served my Cosmo in a Martini glass, and the Long Island Iced Tea in a Pina Colada glass.  Warm glasses.  Small measures of booze.  I knew there and then at the bar watching this series of wrong steps that I was going to be sorely disappointed.  I couldn't taste the alcohol until the very last sip.
Price: £5.95 each.  Not worth it.
Cocktail rating: 2 out of 5
It’s not a cocktail if you can’t taste the alcohol

Above: A Cosmo in a Margarita glass?  I ask you!

Browns was the last stop - being next door to Garfunkels I was determined to take as few steps as possible before actually getting some alcohol.  It's a popular place and was very busy, but I could spy a decent range of spirits and a barman who seemed to be chilling glasses and I knew a stiff drink was a mere sniff away.  I do love a Martini, but it doesn't seem as popular these days, with people generally having a sweet-tooth when it comes to cocktails.  It was the first cocktail on the menu and I jumped at the chance to have one.  Inside I was squealing with anticipation as I watched the barman stir my vodka for a minute to make sure it was chilled enough.  He knows what he's doing, I thought.  The first sip was like opening a Christmas present.  Hurrah!  I have to say that it was my first dirty martini – a dash of olive brine is added – and I don’t think I’ll ever go back to a normal one!  Thank you again to the barman who saved me that evening by producing the best vodka martini I have ever had.  At last, a stiff drink was found in Bath.
Price: £7.95 and worth every penny
Cocktail rating: 5 out of 5
They train their staff well in how to do the classic cocktails.

 Above: The Dirty Martini that saved me

Well there you have it - two places to avoid, and one to make a beeline for in Bath in pursuit of decent cocktails!  The nice well-trained Browns barman reliably informed us that for a good cocktail in Bath, other than Browns, to try:

"The Liquid Alchemist's Lounge" is how it is described on their website - I like the sound of that!  They seem to specialise in the unusual, such as 'The Japanese Garden', made with Hendrick's Gin, lychee, cucumber and lime (£7).

Another underground bar, this one also looks very promising from the website.  Cocktails seem to be around the £7.95 mark, with a mix of the classic (Whiskey Sour), the faddy (Espresso Martini), and the odd-sounding (Jam Snapper?).

After all that running about Bath we headed to the Assembly Rooms for the wedding reception of my friend Debbie and he new husband Duncan.  I sank a couple of glasses of nice prosecco, no cocktails to be found there.  Amazing venue though, and doesn't Debbie look gorgeous in her Stephanie Allin 'Riviera' dress?

wedding guest outfit


  1. Heh, I got married at the Assembly Rooms!

    I'd recommend the Canary for cocktails - gin is their speciality. They're down the same road as Scarlet Vintage, though I can't remember the name of the street.

    1. Aw, it's such a romantic venue!

      I know where Scarlet Vintage is, it's around the corner from the good cheese shop - will check out the Canary next time I'm in Bath! Thanks for the tip!!

      P xx


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