I know that for many people the pandemic has ruined the whole experience of going out drinking in town, but this introvert right here is in her element.
No strangers in my personal space, no queue for the bar and I get to sit down all evening without fear of judgement from youths still in their partying prime. Did I mention sit-down drinking is also a great opportunity to wear those six-inch stilettos that you never quite mastered walking in but couldn’t bring yourself to give to charity?
Sure, there’s some things I miss about pre-pandemic drinking, like the music and making friends with other drunk women in the toilets, but for me the pros definitely out-weigh the cons.
If you are a cocktail fan who lives in Nottingham or who plans on travelling there one day, the nine bars I have listed below are must-visits. With so many great venues to choose from, why not organise a ‘cocktail crawl’ with your friends? Just remember that cocktail crawls are best enjoyed during happy hour on pay day unless you didn’t mind re-mortgaging your home the next day – unfortunately delicious drinks come at a (hefty) price!
Hidden down an alleyway off Trinity Square is an outdoor oasis known as the Secret Garden. Surrounded by wooden seating, beautiful foliage and delicate lighting, you will feel like you have stepped into a magical setting. Their new cocktail menu has introduced me to some of my favourite cocktails in the city. The ‘Hidden Worlds’ cocktails feel very on brand and feature a variety of literary-inspired drinks, including one for the Potterheads out there called ‘Nine and Three Quarters’.
This candle-lit cocktail bar can be found on Pelham Street and has a relaxed, intimate setting that is perfect for an evening of sipping martinis. An ever-changing drinks menu almost guarantees new cocktails to try every time you visit. The bar staff at Tilt are pros at what they do, so if your cocktail of choice isn’t on the menu or you prefer your martini shaken not stirred, they will be happy to oblige.
Boilermaker wins the award for ‘best location’ hands down. I was walking past this place unaware of its existence for many years! From the outside, this venue looks like a laundrette but what awaits inside is a world apart. An upmarket bar with table service and a great vibe, Boilermaker is the place to visit if you are looking to impress your friends. They offer a variety of classic and creative cocktails, including a couple that pay homage to Nottingham itself. Make sure one of your party orders the QMC themed cocktail!
A venue named after a Beatles song was always going to be epic, am I right? Penny Lane brings you all the joys of the seaside without any sand getting in your socks or the need to battle a seagull for the right to eat your own chips. This bar is all about fun with lots of games (seaside themed like donkey derby as well as classics such as air hockey) and cocktails that would make Del Boy proud.
If your visit to Penny Lane leaves you feeling in the mood for the real deal, give my blog ‘Budgets, Booze & Bonding Time: 10 Reasons to Book a Caravan Holiday‘ a read for even more reasons why you should book yourself a trip to the good ol’ British seaside.
Based on aesthetic alone, Coco Tang has the classiest cocktails in Nottingham. Every drink is a work of art. The pop culture favourites on their menu include a Mean Girls themed cocktail, which comes with its own edible burn book, and one dedicated to cult-classic Fight Club. Finding this secret bar is part of the fun, as you head down the cobbles of Bridlesmith Gate in search of a mysterious red lantern.
The quirky decor at Hockley Arts Club is reason enough to visit this bar. Another secret venue that contains different floors and rooms, each with their own unique vibe. This place is all about theatrical cocktails and my favourite on the menu even comes with a complimentary Polaroid photograph of you and your friends! Make sure you dress up because the beautiful surroundings at Hockley Arts Club are definitely insta-worthy.
Pepper Rocks is always crowded with customers for a reason. Set over several floors with a lively atmosphere and heaps of character, this venue is the only place to go if you are looking for great value cocktails (before 10pm, you’re looking at around £5 each!) You might struggle to get a seat, but there’s also a food van selling pizza and hot dogs directly outside the entrance, so it’s worth the sacrifice.
It doesn’t get more quaint and quirky than 400 rabbits and you’ll be pleased to hear that this is another place that sells cocktails at a more palatable price tag. As the only dedicated tequila bar in the whole city, there’s no prizes for guessing their speciality. If you, like me, are unable to stomach tequila after one too many slammers at a fateful birthday celebration many moons ago, cocktails made from other spirits do feature on the menu as well. But you should still give a tequila-based drink a try because it turns out cocktails make any spirit drinkable!
This trendy Hockley hideout is guaranteed to provide you with a memorable experience and will likely be the highlight of any trip to Nottingham. Lost Property is actually a collection of bars with different themes, spread across several floors. There is even a bar located in one of the ancient caves that still lurk underneath Nottingham city centre. With its hip, speakeasy vibe and decor, Lost Property is in my opinion the coolest place to visit on this list – and if you visit the Lost Caves bar, I mean that quite literally so don’t forget to pack a jumper!
How many of these places have you been to? Will you be planning a future cocktail crawl? Let me know in the comments. And if you’re nursing a hangover after all those cocktails, make sure you check out my blog ‘Nottingham’s best brunch spots‘ for my favourite places to get some grub and settle your stomach!