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.
According to some, the best cocktails are served at the Black Dove on St James’s Street in Kemptown. It’s worth coming for the décor, 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.
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
Much bigger, but also hard to find is Merkaba. It’s slap bang in the centre of town on Jubiliee Street, but its location in My Brighton hotel means it’s easy to walk past. The bar oozes glamorous, and is the place to put on a posh frock and sip cosmos. Equally grown up is Bar Fifty Five, a funky cocktail bar in the boutique hotel Una on Regency Square. It serves all the classics, as well as a few of its own creations.
For something totally different try the Cocktail Shack, just around the corner. Made with reclaimed wood salvaged from the West Pier, you’ll soon be in the holiday vibe thanks to its strong cocktails and soundtrack of dub, ska and reggae. If you can drag yourself away, Koba on Western Road is a five-minute walk. Claiming to be Brighton’s oldest cocktail bar, it certainly has some old-school glamour.
From the oldest to the newest, as the exclusive, celebrity members club Soho House is coming to Brighton. At the time of writing, it is due to open in 2018. The £60 million private club is part of a regeneration of Madeira Terraces, and has been built on top of the Sea Life centre, overlooking the pier and seafront. As well as a vintage bar and restaurant there is a stunning rooftop terrace and pool. You need to know a member to gain access, but once in you could be rubbing shoulders with the stars. If your name’s not down, don’t worry as the café and restaurants will be open to the public.
For those who prefer something a bit more low key, Brighton isn’t short of traditional boozers serving a good pint. 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.
Made with reclaimed wood salvaged from the West Pier, you’ll soon be in the holiday vibe thanks to its strong cocktails and soundtrack of dub, ska and reggae
The Ginger Dog, also in Kemptown, is an old-fashioned pub serving real ales on one side, and a top-notch gastro pub on the other. The Thomas Kemp is another great place to grab pub grub with your pint, and its front doors opens out to give you great 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 Nelson Inn and Prince George.
For a feel-good pint, pop to The Robin Hood on Norfolk Place, Britain’s only charity pub, where all profits are donated to local causes. To get a real flavour of the city, grab a drink and sit outside the Fitzherberts on New Road and watch the world go by. Named after Prince Regent’s favourite mistress, it has regular folk music sessions and proper ciders. Next door is the Mash Tun, which is popular with students, so things can get raucous.
The pubs along the seafront can also get pretty rowdy, but they are the perfect place to sip a cold pint or chilled rose 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
Near the pier is Northern Lights, a former fisherman’s cottage. This Scandinavian bar features twinkling fairy lights and flavoured vodkas, which you can soak up with sautéed reindeer and pickled herring.
To get a real flavour of the city, grab a drink and sit outside the Fitzherberts on New Road and watch the world go by. Named after Prince Regent’s favourite mistress, it has regular folk music sessions and proper ciders
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. It’s worth a visit just for the huge garden terrace, with fabulous views.
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 sea front 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.
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
Lively party nights
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 it has some 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 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, which serves East African street food alongside tasty Gujarati home-cooking.
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
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. Formerly called Audio, it re-opened in May 2015 and offer three distinct spaces: Up, where you can listen classic sounds, and munch on hot dogs from The Dog Hause; Down which is designed for dancing; and Out, a terrace where you enjoy a burger with your drink.
The Green Door Store (Trafalgar Arches) is a great place to catch bands before they get bigger. It also has a range of free, themed club nights, including Wuthering Nights (a homage to Kate Bush), SOB (old school Hip Hop) and Soulful Strut (funk, soul, disco, latin and jazz). 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…