Jumping nightclubs, old-fashioned pubs and all manner of offbeat, after-dark entertainment – it’s all here!
Cocktails and glamour
On a night out in Brighton, anything could happen. The heady mix of outgoing locals, great music and infectious, fun-time atmosphere means what often starts out as a quiet dinner for two, can end up as an all-nighter with a whole new group of friends. So while we can recommend some top spots for guaranteed good times, we really can’t predict where your night will end up. It’s that sort of town.
What better way to start your night out than with a few cheeky cocktails? Frankly you’re spoiled for choice in Brighton – from dark, funky bars serving super strong concoctions to sophisticated, high-end hangouts where grown up clubbers congregate. A popular hangout with the locals is the Black Dove on St James’s Street in Kemptown. It’s worth coming for the décor alone, which features huge gold frames, chandeliers, vintage fans, paintings, fairy-lights and more.
Alongside the long, long list of cocktails you can get craft beer on tap and award-winning ciders. Another Kemptown favourite is Brighton Rocks tucked away on Rock Place, just off the seafront. It’s an intimate bar, with friendly staff creating great cocktails. Give your night a kick-start with one of the best Nespresso Martinis you’ll ever taste. Heading back into town, make sure you go via The Plotting Parlour on Steine Street. This tiny bar is easy to miss, but has become a word-of-mouth hit with the locals thanks to its beautiful vintage décor and top quality cocktails, prepared by expert mixologists. It gets very busy at the weekend, so we recommend booking at table.
Much bigger, but also hard to find is Merkaba. It’s slap bang in the centre of town on Jubilee Street, but its location in My Brighton hotel means it’s easy to walk past. The bar oozes glamour, and is the place to put on a posh frock and sip Cosmos. New in town is L’ Atelier du Vin on Kensington Gardens, where you can spend an evening sipping killer cocktails from their ‘bootlegger’ bar or sample one (or two) of their 600 wines. Another secret drinking den is BYOC, deep in the heart of South Lanes. To the average passer-by it’s just an empty shop, but for those in the know it’s the gateway to a Narnia of cocktails. The difference is you bring the booze and their experienced bartenders will rustle up something special, using an exciting array of home-made syrups, juices and bitters.
What better way to start your night out than with a few cheeky cocktails? Frankly you’re spoiled for choice in Brighton – from dark, funky bars serving super strong concoctions to sophisticated, high-end hangouts where grown up clubbers congregate
If you don’t fancy the idea of BYO but want a cocktail bar with a difference, head to the Fix, formerly known as the Cocktail Shack. It has been taken over by The Set restaurant next door and serves up a pared-back menu of exciting, seasonal cocktails in a beautiful townhouse setting. Just around the corner is Bar Fifty Five, in Hotel Una on Regency Square, which serves all the classics, as well as a few of its own creations. From here it’s a short walk to Preston Street, which has two bars worth checking out. Medusa is a small bar, with huge array of fairy lights and a great drinks selection, while The Tipsy Bear is a relaxed bar, that has live music and great food, with more than 12 sausages to try!
For those who just want a decent pint, Brighton isn’t short of traditional boozers. The Basket Makers is something of an institution, and its walls are adorned with hundreds of old metal tins containing messages from locals. For some of the best craft beer head to the Evening Star, which was one of the first independent breweries in Brighton. The Hand in Hand in Kemptown also brews its own beer on site and feels like you’re having a drink in your granny’s living room. We mean that in a good way.
Another place to try local ales is Brighton Bierhaus on Edward Street, which serves its award-winning Brighton Biers. A new venue, Haus on the Hill, has recently opened on Hanover’s Southover Street. Back in Kemptown, the Ginger Dog is an old-fashioned pub serving real ales on one side, and top-notch gastropub grub on the other. The Thomas Kemp is another great place to grab some food with your pint, and its front doors open out to give you views of the sea beyond. The city centre has more places to drink in than you can shake a cocktail stick at.
Staggering distance from the station on Trafalgar Street are two classic, unspoilt locals in the guise of The Lord Nelson Inn and Prince George, which are both on Trafalgar Street. To get a real flavour of the city, grab a drink and sit outside Mrs Fitzherberts (New Road), named after Prince Regent’s favourite mistress. Recently refurbished it features two heated and lit outdoor terraces, which are prefect for watching the world go by. It serves great local craft beers and showcases the best of live local talent, from DJ sets to folk music. Next door is the Mash Tun, which is popular with students, so things can get raucous.
For some of the best craft beer head to the Evening Star, which was one of the first independent breweries in Brighton. The Hand in Hand in Kemptown also brews its own beer on site and feels like you’re having a drink in your granny’s living room. We mean that in a good way.
Drinks by the ocean
The pubs along the seafront can also get pretty rowdy, but they are the perfect place to sip a cold pint or chilled rosé while the sun goes down. The Fortune of War has been around since 1882, while next door is the Tempest Inn, which is like no other bar we’ve ever seen. It has a warren of man-made caves lit with lanterns and decorated with faux-prehistoric wall art. If this makes you feel a bit claustrophobic there is also a large room above, with a huge window looking out over the sea.
Hove has its fair share of great drinking holes, often catering to a slightly more mature crowd (ie no students or stags). The Brighton Beer Dispensary on Dean Street in Hove is dedicated to one thing – the clues in the name – while the all-singing Lion and Lobster (Sillwood Street) is set over a number of floors, each with a different offering. Whether you want a quiet pint, a slap up dinner, or a night out with the girls – this place has it all. While you’re in Hove, make time for a drink at The Bee’s Mouth – a vibrant bar serving craft beers from around the world, accompanied by live music.
Further into Hove is The Urchin, which specialises in craft beer and shellfish, served in huge copper pans. Strange, but very popular – so you need to book in advance. If you are still standing, Brighton has some of the best club nights in the UK. The legendary Concorde 2 down on the seafront hosts live gigs and club nights, with some of the world’s biggest DJs and producers. The glass-fronted Victorian building makes for an incredible venue, and it has won awards for its sound system.
Another Brighton institution is Casablanca Jazz Club on Middle Street. Spread over two floors, with low ceilings and a certain shabby chic, it provides an intimate affair. As well as live jazz there are lively party nights, where revellers of all ages dance the night away. Dancing is also the name of the game at Revenge, which has been going strong for 25 years. It’s one of the biggest and most famous gay clubs in the south of England, but is also popular with the straight crowd, looking for a late-night boogie to some cheesy tunes.
The pubs along the seafront can also get pretty rowdy, but they are the perfect place to sip a cold pint or chilled rosé while the sun goes down
Live music and dancing till dawn
The Mesmerist on Prince Albert Street attracts a similarly eclectic crowd. Like no other pub on the South coast, it is inspired by an interesting combination of 1930s gin palaces, burlesque and the steampunk movement. Weekends are hosted by its resident DJ, who spins vintage classic. Make sure you’re there by 12am for its famous Saturday show, which never ceases to amaze. A new addition to the pub/club is the KitGum Kitchen, which serves East African street food alongside tasty Gujarati home-cooking.
The younger, and let’s face it cooler, set head to Patterns on Marine Parade, which has some of the biggest club nights in Brighton. On the ground floor you can knock back cocktails, sip craft beers and enjoy a varied programme of music and culture events. Downstairs is designed for dancing, while the south-facing terrace is built for sunshine and sipping. The Green Door Store (Trafalgar Arches) is a great place to catch bands before they get big. It also has a range of themed club nights, including Sonic Switch (bass, hip hop, soul, drum & bass, reggae, dubstep, funk, tropical, beats) and Smashed Hits (celebrating all the best pop bangers from the 80s through to the 00s). Hidden under the arches of the Brighton Railway Station, it’s a small, sweaty club, so leave your heels at home and get down and dirty.
You can also sweat the night away at the Haunt in Brighton’s coach station. A former cinema it now hosts regular club nights and live music events and describes itself as Brighton’s ‘most exciting night out’. There is so much else going on in Brighton, from karaoke nights at Lucky Voice (Black Lion Street) to wine tasting at Ten Green Bottles (Jubilee Street). Our advice is to get out there and see where the night takes you. Most likely it will be into the early morning…
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