A cocktail, garçon, and make it snappy
We love the cosy vibes of a country pub, but sometimes we need heels, sequins and the pizzazz of a bar where only a Porn Star martini will do. End of lockdown? World Cocktail Day? We'll celebrate it all.
This week we celebrated World Cocktail, and there isn’t a better way to celebrate phase two of our unlocking than a night out that leaves you shaken and strirred. Glad-rags on, let’s plan a night out OUT. We’ve collated the best bars for a Porn Star Martini. Ibuprofen at the ready? Then we’ll begin!
Don’t let The Hind’s Head’s Michelin twinkler fool you into thinking you that’s it’s only about food. Au contraire, Heston’s posh pub is home to The Royal Lounge – one of the coolest bars in Berks – and it lavishes as much love and attention on the booze too. Prince Philip hosted his stag do here (carnage, no doubt) and now you can knock back cocktails, wines and craft beers that are as flavoursome and well-considered as the dining. The vibe? Elegantly eccentric hunting lodge. Think shotgun chandeliers, taxidermy, Heston immortalised in the curtain fabric and cocktails in vintage china (Emily’s Earl Grey Tea Sour is a Muddy knockout fave). If you’re feeling peckish, tuck into the scrumptious savoury and sweet snacks – you won’t regret it. Reopens 17 May.
Don’t be fooled by The Newbury’s rep for amazing food (Muddy winner of Best Destination Pub 2018), because luring beyond the triple cooked chips is a party palace. Upstairs you’ll find a cool cocktail lounge complete with mismatched furniture, neon signs, and its very own jukebox. Even better, if you want to keep you shindig bijou, book up the brand spanking new Distillery. A private room for 16 people offering gin tasting and making. oh and they even make their own gins, so you can take a bottle away. What could possibly go wrong? Hic! Reopens 20 May.
Neon signs, industrial touches, exposed brick, and more Instaworthy corners than you can shake a selfie stick at. Malmaison Reading is a grade II listed hotel designed by railways icon, Isambard Brunel. Yes, there’s a vast array of premium spirits, wine, and craft beers, but don’t pass go without working your way through the cocktail menu. It’s all about the science at Malmaison’s boutique bar, Chez Mal, with more than 40 potent potions available for your drinking pleasure. Reading’s signature tipple? A super zingy Paddington Martini – a concoction of Absolut Mandarin, Grand Marnier, Cointreau, orange, lemon, marmalade. I can’t think of a better place to be a stowaway.
A wine bar! Before you holler, ‘The 80s called and they want their bar back’, there’s no Sade pumping through the sound system, no wine snobbery or power suits. Bar Fifty Six is a relaxed, cool Wokingham hotspot, where you can sample the delights of 56 rare and extraordinary wines. The interiors have a slightly eccentric traveller vibe, which is appropriate when you’re being enticed into taking a wine tour without setting foot in a vineyard.
It was a pub that suffered an identity crisis but now has supermodel good looks. A shiny cocktail bar with elegant interiors can be found on the ground floor, with a menu of drinkies sourced from British artisans. You’ll find a lot of delicious English wines, gins and craft lagers from small breweries and classic cocktails with a sassy twist. If you fancy upping the glamour, there’s the chi chi Members’ Lounge. Fancy. Reopens 19 May.
It looks like a pub on the outside, but anything but on the inside…Welcome to the fun factory. Put your Farrow & Ball paint chart away, this cocktail bar’s cool vibes wouldn’t look out of place on London’s Old Street. Retro, quirky interiors give this place edge and the 70+ strong cocktail list will leave you shaken and stirred – especially if you work your way through all those cocktails *hic*. There’s a strict over 21s only policy, a great team, live music and a real emphasis on having a cracking night out.
Glitz, glamour and worth the blisters you’ll get from wearing heels for the first time in 18 months. It was love at first sight at Coworth Park’s bar. Just look at that chandelier! Pop in for a quick and quiet whiskey or a long night of creative cocktails and enjoy this secret jewel amongst rural bliss. They add a seasonal cocktail each month to menu, so we’ll see you there every four weeks. You’ll find your luxury life after lockdown right here. Reopens 17 May.
The Dolphin Newbury has been transformed from traditional boozer to a place that wouldn’t look out of place in old Laaaaandon Taaaaaaarn. Perch your peachy posterior on this gorgeous orange velvet banquette and work your way through a tasty bar menu of boutique cocktails, artisan spirits, craft beers, and quality wines. If you fancy soaking up some of the alcohol, you can tuck into small plates or the full three courses.
Berkshire is the home of Coppa Club. Yup, we’re taking ownership. Of the boutique group’s six venues, we have three – Streatley, Maidenhead, and Sonning. If you like a cool interior to go with your mojito, Coppa Club delivers in spades. Park your tush, pile into the cocktail menu. Taaaaaaxi!
If you like your Porn Star Martini mixed by Monte Don, then you’ll love The Botanist. It’s a bar with a secret garden theme, serving with botanical-inspired cocktails, sometimes served in plant pots. Its cocktail menu is split into six sections, including long, shorts and spritzers, non-alcoholic drinks, shares, and the gin list. Or simply order a festive drinks package and swerve the menu entirely. You’ll find The Botanist on Kings Street, fast becoming a foodie quarter of Reading.
Don’t be fooled by the lack of personality on the outside, Sip & Sit in Wokingham, is full of personality on the inside with a spectacular cocktail menu to tickle your tastebuds and shelves groaning with bottles from small batch drinks producers. The bar staff also channel their inner Tom Cruise to compete for the honour of Cocktail of the Month, so expect something you never heard of on the menu. Essentially, this is a tasting house that celebrates small producers, so if you love discovering a microbrewery or limited edition craft lager, you’ll find it here.
The Leafy Elephant is a gin bar with a library of 200 bottles from around the world and a passion for mixology. If cocktails are your thang, you’ll find plenty of Insta fun to be had here – one’s even served in a mini bathtub.