The best bars and nightlife in Bath
Bath has an ever-growing selection of pretty sophisticated bars. Those recommended below are all professional outfits in beguiling settings, with staff who know how to mix a cocktail. Some are lively, others quiet little dens.
For more Bath inspiration, see our guide to the city and its best hotels, restaurants, pubs, things to do and places for afternoon tea.
One of the longest-established, best-known and liveliest cocktail bars in Bath occupies a prime spot in a Georgian building on George Street, a focal point for the city’s nightlife. Though there’s an indoor cocktail bar, most drinking and socialising usually takes place outside in the large, walled terraced garden, which is decked out with outdoor sofas, picnic tables and other seating, and jollied up with fairy lights. The terrace has under canvas tent-effect cover and is heated in the winter; any night you may find DJs playing sets. On Friday and Saturday nights, there’s also the Sub Club, a subterranean club area in Georgian vaults. The mixologists know their stuff and all night every night the same cocktails are priced at two for one.
Fidel Rum Bar
This cute and friendly little bar is tucked away on a little side lane called Trim Bridge, off Upper Borough Walls where a section of medieval city walls once stood. As you might imagine, rum is the thing here: some 140 types are on offer – white, dark, spiced and flavoured, most not in fact Cuban. As well as classic Cuban cocktails such as mojitos, the bar has its own creations such as HMS Somerset – white rum, elderflower, lime, mango and apple juice. You can sit out on the street, in the bar area, or upstairs in a lounge on shocking pink banquettes surrounded by atmospheric photos of Cuban scenes.
Contact: 01225 426735; facebook.com/fidelbath
Hall & Woodhouse Bar & Restaurant
The Dorset brewery’s eye-catching conversion of what used to be Bonhams auction rooms is a buzzy place for a drink. The dramatic, open-plan interior includes long wooden tables for drinking (and eating – but there are better places to dine in Bath) and a clubby-looking area with Chesterfield sofas, battered leather armchairs, shelves of board games and an indie soundtrack. Upstairs, there is a roof terrace open until 9pm most evenings in summer. As well as the brewery’s own Badger beers, there’s a good selection of cocktails such as the French Revolution – a refreshing and highly drinkable blend of vodka, black raspberry liqueur, pineapple juice and fresh raspberries.
Bread & Jam
This upmarket, table-service cocktail bar is part of Walcot House, a multi-purpose venue in an old bakery that also includes a trendy café and restaurant. Bread & Jam is set down in the vaulted basement, with smart leather banquettes, sofas and chairs beneath industrial piping. House cocktails include a Baby Sherb: gin, Babycham and lime sherbet. It’s only open on Fridays and Saturdays. You can also have a drink at Walcot House’s Dilly Bar in the slick restaurant area upstairs. There’s also a members-only club, Lomah, with dancing and live music in an adjacent subterranean space.
Coppa Club – The Bath Townhouse
Coppa Club is a smallish chain of multi-purpose, all-day and all-evening venues, promoted as “clubhouses” without any of the exclusivity of members’ clubs. The Bath Townhouse outlet, once a Gap clothes store, sits on an upmarket shopping thoroughfare, with picture windows looking on to the street. Inside, light fittings, prints and swirly murals suffuse the place with a glam Art Deco vibe. Downstairs at the front there’s a comfy area for having coffees, drinks and snacks. Behind lies the restaurant: menus cover all the bases – but there are better places to eat in Bath. Head up the curvaceous staircase to a bold-in-pink cocktail bar, which is a quiet haven during the day but often lively on weekend nights.
Set on the lower ground floor of this enigmatic shop-cum-bistro-cum-charcuterie is a champagne bar, in a raffish den of velvet sofas, 1970s coffee tables, multi-coloured lampshades and vintage posters. Alongside a list of champagne cocktails – which includes a Bath Sunrise involving creme de cassis – several champagnes are particularly recommended to accompany a range of cheeseboards, fondues and baked camembert. Classic cocktails are available too.
The Bath Distillery Gin Bar
Halfway up cobbled Queen Street is one of the city’s best-loved bars. On offer are some 230 gins, covering fruity, floral, vegetal and dry varieties. They include the company’s own Bath Gin, made in a distillery in the city (tours and tastings on offer) and with a winking Jane Austen on the bottle. The dapper bartenders really know their stuff, so ask for recommendations. The place is often packed at weekends. The second bar upstairs can be less crowded. Gin-making classes are offered too.
This red-lit, underground bar entices you down from Kingsmead Square, offering seasonal and classic cocktails in sultry surroundings. Velvet drapes, candlelit tables and vaulted nooks add drama, but the cheery and knowledgeable bar staff and transatlantic rock 'n' roll tunes lighten the atmosphere. The intimate place is a good option for couples or for friends wanting to avoid rowdy crowds.
You are encouraged to book ahead, though walk-ins can be accepted. In summer there’s also an outdoor terrace on Kingsmead Square, which doesn’t take reservations. The bar is serious about locally sourced ingredients, with all beers hailing from south-west England and fruit garnishes from the hills of Bath. It also serves, for example, not one but two Somerset cider brandy cocktails. The Eden is like biting into a slightly tart apple.
Yes, The Botanist is a chain, but the company has done a good job of sprucing up Bath’s Grade II* listed Octagon, a glorious, hidden building behind Milsom Street, which originally served as a private chapel when built in 1766. The astronomer William Herschel, who discovered Uranus while living in Bath, was the organist. The bar sits in the centre of the octagonal-shaped building below a vaulted, stuccoed ceiling. The Botanist’s drinks cover the full gamut of options, and there’s a wide-ranging food menu too. Situated amid the rocky arches of a crypt lies Beneath. Part of The Botanist, the underground bar is styled as a medieval apothecary, and its unusual cocktail list favours botanicals.
Without its sunken, flagstone courtyard terrace that spills out below a back lane near Bath Abbey, you would hardly notice The Hideout was there. A small but jovial den inside, the bar has more than 200 different types of whisky on the shelves of its ancient stone and panelled walls. Staff may suggest that you try a shot of Crab Smasher, which was invented here. It’s an invigorating blast of peaty 10-year-old Ardbeg, Scapegrace Gold gin, Green Chartreuse and bitters. The terrace is used year round, with heaters put out in the colder months.
East of Pulteney Bridge
A subterranean late-night hangout, where the rooms are decorated in shabby-chic styles – a chaise longue here, a wind-up gramophone there, replica Renaissance murals on vaulted ceilings, that sort of thing. If you’re feeling decadent (and in this environment you should be), have a glass of absinthe, poured over a sugar lump on a slotted spoon. The playlist is eclectic but upbeat. Opium is centrally located but hidden: from the city centre, cross Pulteney Bridge, turn first left, then left again.