But what better way to start your night out than with a few 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 all 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’s all worth coming for the décor, which features huge gold frames, chandeliers, vintage fans, paintings, fairy lights and more
Another hidden gem is Bar Valentino. Although it’s slap bang in the centre of town, next to the Theatre Royal, its location above El Mexicano means many people pass it by. Glamorous and cosy, this 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 away. Claiming to be Brighton’s oldest cocktail bar, it certainly has some old-school glamour.
For those who prefer something a bit less bling, 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 Evening Star, who was one of the first independent brewers 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 open out to give you great views of the sea beyond. For something a bit less British, The Neighbourhood is a Brooklyn-inspired dive bar, with a curious collection of objets d’art, vintage furniture, pop art and obscure antiques. There is also a 100ft heated garden which is a rarity in Brighton.
The city centre has more places to drink in than you can shake a cocktail stick at. Within 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 Mrs Fitzherbert’s on New Road. 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 great raucous.
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
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 new Tempest Inn, which is like no other bar you’ve seen before. 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.
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.
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 clue is 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 in The Bee’s Mouth, a vibrant bar specialising in 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.
This Scandinavian bar features twinkling fairy lights and flavoured vodkas, which you can soak up with sautéed reindeer and pickled herring
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.
Another Brighton institution is Cassablanca 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 club 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 classics.
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
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 Audio, it opened in May 2015 and offers three distinct spaces: Up, where you can listen to 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.
Green Door is also popular with local students mid-week, who flock there for Donuts, where they can nod their heads to quality 90s electronic beats and hip-hop. Weekends welcome a more mixed crowd to a variety of themed nights, from soul and pop to the sassiest RnB. 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…