Since moving back to Nottingham, lucky for me the bar scene has gotten better. Literally, when I came back from University in Manchester, there only seemed to be two choices for a night out in Notts: Rock City or Oceana. Neither were appealing, and I don’t remember there being a classy cocktail bar in sight.
So despite actually being from Nottingham; whilst I was in Manchester at Uni, then working in Leeds (and then moving back to Manchester… God, it’s difficult keeping track!), I hadn’t really had many nights out in my home town.
When I moved back in March 2016, it was nice to know that so many new places had opened. Sure, Nottingham is no Manchester (but then, where is?), but there are actually some good cocktail bars around!
I think the best bars in Nottingham are in the Hockley area; which is where I’ll usually head to if I’m going for a proper night out. There are several really good places to go (although unfortunately there are a distinct lack of hipsters).
These are my best bars in Nottingham!
36 Carlton Street, Nottingham, NG1 1NN
Once a “secret” bar hidden behind a very plain looking shop with (you guessed it) a boiler, this is Nottingham’s worst kept secret. If you didn’t know about it, then you could be forgiven for walking past it on a weeknight. However, come Friday and Saturday, there’s no way you can miss the queue outside.
It’s table service only here, so you’ll need to wait until one is free. Walk past the counter, push the sink and you’re in the bar itself. The vibe is casual, the bartenders friendly and the cocktails are amazing!
There is a changing menu so you’re guaranteed to get something new each time. My old favourite was the Cereal Killer, which was presented in a Coco Pops box (I REALLY wish they’d bring this drink back!). My new favourite cocktail at the minute is the Bumblee’s Picnic: bison grass vodka, apple, cucumber water, honey and black pepper. Comes with your very own tuft of grass and miniature picnic blanket!
Whenever I have friends visiting me in Nottingham, Boilermaker is the first place I take them to. I think it’s definitely worth a place on this list of the best bars in Nottingham.
20a Carlton Street, Nottingham, NG1 1NN
This seems to be everyone’s favourite bar right now, and it’s always packed. Set back from the main road, walk through the alleyway to get the entrance.
On the ground floor, the music is turned up loud and lots of people are dancing. I always head for the stairs behind the bar and go up to the next floor where it’s much more chilled out, and you can relax in the booths.
It’s usually table service here, and it’s quieter so you can have a conversation without having to shout to be heard (God, I sound sooo old right now!).
I LOVE the Smartie Pants cocktail (mainly because it comes with a free tube of smarties). Although be careful with the colouring put in it – it turned my mouth blue one time!
The Green Goddess is also nice – especially if you like your cocktails savoury. With ingredients including spinach and pine nuts, you can be forgiven for thinking you’re being healthy!
12 Bridlesmith Walk, Nottingham, NG1 2FZ
Debatable as to whether or not it’s actually in Hockley; my argument is it’s close enough and it’s a really good bar, which makes it reason enough to include in this list.
It’s very chilled out, and almost has a Scandi vibe in terms of the pared back walls and minimal décor. They’ve got an impressive range of beer on offer (well, I’d imagine it’s impressive if you like beer – I can’t say I do!) – it’s the kind of bar that would be right at home in Manchester’s Northern Quarter.
The cocktail selection may be small, but they’ve certainly picked some great ones. My personal favourite is Holborn: dry gin, manzanilla, elderflower, cucumber, orgeat and lemon juice…
The brunch menu sounds really nice too, so I’ll have to check that out one day (after all, brunch is the best meal of the day).
9 Broad Street, Nottingham, NG1 3AJ
Even if you don’t like rum, if you DO like good drinks then you’ll think The Rum House is one of the best bars in Nottingham. There are so many drinks to choose from, all of which are very strong (the kind where you don’t realise, until you stand up to go and it kind of hits you).
My favourite drink? The Nordic Martini. Reyka vodka, Noilly Prat, Cointreau and coriander – definitely one to be tried.
The Rum House also serves a range of food, and when it gets late you can head upstairs to the tiki bar (although I don’t like tiki bars, soooo… I head off to Hockley Arts!).
Oh and if you’re lucky, when you ask for the bill sometimes you get served a bag of pic’n’mix – that alone qualifies The Rum House for the title of one of the best bars in Nottingham!
7.5 Carlton Street, Nottingham, NG1 1NL
This secret bar is located just across the road and serves some of the best cocktails in the city. It’s the kind of place you can spend the whole night: while the bar is loud, if you head round the corner there are a group of tables where it’s much quieter.
Lost Property has to be one of the best bars in Nottingham – you can read my review here. If you do go, I’d recommend trying the English Rose.
Where do you think are the best bars in Nottingham? Do you like Hockley too, or do you usually venture elsewhere for a drink? Let me know your recommendations – I’m always up for a cocktail or five!