A cocktail, garçon, and make it snappy
Is it even party season if we're not head to toe in sequins working our way through the cocktail menu? No it is not. Here are 16 of the best bars in Berkshire. Ibuprofen at the ready?
London Cocktail Club, Reading
The new kid on the Berkshire block (it opened last week), but already making an impression. The London Cocktail Club is a bartenders playground. Expect cool interiors, a party atmosphere and an awesome cocktail menu. If you’re looking for a drink that’s masquerading as dessert, try Choctails & Dreams, made with Nutella, Jack Daniels, toasted marshmallow and coffee.
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 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 (Gold Rush is a Muddy fave). If you’re feeling peckish, tuck into the scrumptious savoury and sweet snacks – you won’t regret it.
California dreaming? Put your passport away, laydee, you won’t be needing it to get to Wokingham. RYND is a California-inspired restaurant and cocktail bar in the old Town Hall building – and design mavens will swoon. It’s so goddam chic and has a phenomenal cocktail list. I’ll be cosying up to Dizzy Rascal… er, the drink. It’s a pink gin cocktail with Chambord, lemon,
topped with prosecco and a touch of candy floss.
Glitz, glamour and worth the blisters you’ll get from wearing heels for the first time in 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.
Berkshire is the home of Coppa Club. Yup, we’re taking ownership. Of the boutique group’s nine 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. Indulge in Coppa Sours – a blend of Saliza Amaretto, Tanqueray Gin, berry cordial and foam. Taaaaaaxi!
Roux at Skindles, Maidenhead
Roux over the door and on the floor of this swish Maidenhead brasserie. Before you follow your nose into the dining room, head upstairs to the bar and terrace. Gorgeous river view, stunning interiors and a cocktail menu that’s as considered as the food. Champagne cocktails all round.
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.
O is a neon dream under the arches of Goswell Hill in Windsor. Great for cocktails with live DJ and arty Instagram shots. They offer brunch and supper to keep it civilised. Pizza and a Pornstar Martini for a tenner sounds like a match made in heaven.
No5 St Leonard’s, Windsor
Windsor’s best kept secret? No5 St Leonards Road. A Champagne bar that’s as sexy as a burlesque dancer’s boudoir. It’s a 10-minute walk from the centre, but the Porn Star Martinis, Chesterfields and vintage vibes are worth the trip.
Don’t be fooled by The Newbury’s rep for amazing food, because lurking 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 Distillery. A private room for 16 people offering gin tasting and making. What could possibly go wrong? Hic!
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.
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. For something fun and fruity with a kick, try Bitter Sweet Mutiny – a mix of rum, Campari and Earl Grey.
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 the lot *hic*. There’s a strict over 21s only policy, a great team, live music and a real emphasis on having a cracking night out. Mis Dynami-tee-hee has got our name on it. Basically a Long Island Iced Tea with an energy boost.
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.