Circus predicts a season of cool drinks for warm weather in Bath’s most intriguing cocktail bars
Photography: Marie Cropps Words: Kate Authers
15 Great Pulteney Street, Bath, BA2 4BR
Crammed with curios and intriguing knicknackery, boutique hotel No.15 Great Pulteney is an Instagrammer’s dream. This is especially true in Bar 15, where plexiglass tables are home to colour-coordinated jewellery collections, and moustachioed mixologists infuse their creations with smoke and serve them up in imaginative vessels; think glass globes, light bulbs and camera lenses. Even the local beers and Champagne are served in cut crystal glassware. Flick through the deck of specially-created playing cards to choose your cocktail, but be warned, there are some wild cards in the mix. The Lobster Fashion comes with a raw, marinated prawn on the side, while Antares is garnished with a rasher of fried bacon and a sprinkling of pink pepper. Eyebrow raising aside, there’s a broad selection, from an Old Fashioned to a Negroni, and you can’t go wrong with a Tiramisu Martini for an evening pick-me-up. Watching the experts behind the bar shake and stir your concoction is a great way to spend an evening.
Circus recommends: Spring Garden Sacred pink grapefruit and almond-infused gin, dill syrup, lime, flaked almonds, grapefruit bitters, served with clear ice and candied almonds.
In the know: Don’t be afraid to ask the team to go off-menu, and definitely book ahead on a Friday or Saturday night.
Buzzy, friendly and nearly always busy, Sub 13 is the place to go for a party. With a recent first floor opening, featuring two new bars, and one of the best outdoor spaces in the city, their all-white Perrier-Jouët terrace is the obvious venue for a large gin and tonic on a balmy evening. Renowned for their generous 2-for-1 cocktail offer until 10pm daily, you can quickly become well-versed in the delights of a Caipirinha or Pomegranate Blush and we’re particularly drawn towards the classic Espresso Martini or Dark ‘n’ Stormy. Serious drinks aficionados will appreciate 45 gins on the list, and a summer menu that’s an amalgamation of ideas from the whole team, and it’s constantly evolving. For those always on the lookout for something new, they’ve got a gin of the week and a cocktail of the week alongside monthly specials.
Circus recommends: Pinch Punch Mount Gay, raspberry shrub, Velvet Falernum, pineapple juice, ginger beer, Angostura bitters, star anise and lime.
In the know: You’ll find DJs amping up the beats in the basement bar from 10pm on Friday and Saturday nights, which also makes it a hot-spot for visiting hen dos…
The Dark Horse
7A Kingsmead Square, Bath, BA1 2AB
The Dark Horse offers a homely and relaxed vibe, in a wonderfully eccentric way. It’s low-lit and atmospheric with its swathes of dark wood, lived-in leather and deco-style lamps, the perfect grown-up backdrop for a sophisticated – and seriously good – cocktail or three. Many of the ingredients from herbs to syrups are foraged, grown or homemade – the focus here is on fresh, seasonal and local, which also applies to the wines, beers, spirits and West Country cheese boards too. The painstakingly-designed cocktail menu is seasonal, but you’ll also find all the classics from Manhattans to Martinis. Owner Louis Lewis-Smith and the team are drinks enthusiasts through and through; expect to find knowledgeable table service and cocktails that are inherently simple, with complex garnishes a no-no.
Circus recommends: Summer Hill Earl Grey-infused rum, lemon juice, lavender-infused honey and apricot.
In the know: Practice your secret handshake; there’s more to this place than first meets the eye. It’s also almost impossible to get in on a weekend without booking.
One of those ‘secret’ places we almost don’t want to share, The Hideout has quickly become a favourite among serious drinks enthusiasts. Predominantly a whiskey bar, it boasts an incredible 183 varieties on the shelf, though they also have plenty of cocktails, beers and ciders to keep everyone happy. Hidden away in the vaults of Lilliput Court, dynamic double act Ross and Callum liken the bar to the inside of a smoking jacket (your guess is as good as ours). Their larger than life personalities and love for hip hop are part of The Hideout’s inherent charm, but alongside the comedy, there’s a real passion for educating the people of Bath and getting the industry more involved in working together. Their cocktail menu is forward thinking and largely built around the customers, with 10 permanent fixtures and six seasonal options to keep it fresh.
Circus recommends: Drunken Monkey Ancho Reyes, chocolate bitters, lime juice and sugar syrup.
In the know: It’s true, you don’t have to be a whiskey aficionado to love The Hideout. If you’re feeling particularly brave, ask for a Crab Smasher.