The BarLifeUK OnLocation adventure moved to Liverpool and with a couple of bottles of Bulldog Bold in our bag we set out.
Liverpool was one of the first cities BarLifeUK visited when we launched, unfortunately we don’t get there as much as we’d like and it was great to see the changes the cities bar scene has gone through in the last year or two. Joined by Bulldog Bold’s Sam Burke and Mark Cato we popped a man up pill and got into it.
The Smugglers Cove: Britannia Pavilion, Albert Dock L3 4AD
In a city with its heritage so deeply steeped in its naval routes and dock trading it was only appropriate we started at the seafaring inspired Smugglers Cove. Located at the iconic Albert Dock’s (those of a certain age will know it best as the place a naked man jumped on another man’s floating weather map), this pub, which has seen a few incarnations over the years, is like walking back into the pages of Moonfleet.
The brick cavern ceilings set the tone and are highlighted with nautical design touches such as the old rum bottle lights and thick ropes across the top of the bar. This place is certainly not style over substance however with a very inviting rum heavy cocktail menu designed as a treasure map joined by a beer book on each table.
As we sipped on a Jamaican Martinez and Grog Blossom a quick walk around found us stood in front of several large glass display cases with a rum collection any tiki bar would be proud of. This is certainly a great way to start any day touring Liverpool’s drinking establishments and if the sun is out you can even sit next to the dock and imagine how it must have looked in days gone by.
Fazenda: Horton House, Exchange Flags L2 3YL
Fazenda is a new venue on the Liverpool bar scene, based in a Brazilian Restaurant. Visually this bar is about as far away from Smugglers Cove as you could get with high ceilings and a large shiny bar. This is Fazenda’s second venue (the first is in Leeds) and the first with a big bar which can accommodate non-eating punters.
The cocktail menu is small, consisting of 8 classics and 8 of their bartenders own creations, but a quick chat with the manager revealed they are about to be able to put their own stamp on a new menu which is imminent.
We didn’t have time to eat although I wouldn’t suggest it for vegetarians and we look forward to revisiting the bar when the staff have had time to make the menu their own. If their enthusiasm is anything to go by it could be great.
Alma De Cuba: St Peters Church, Back Seel Street L1 4BH
For those of you who visited Liverpool a few years ago Alma De Cuba was almost definitely a bar you visited. The stunning building, an old polish Catholic Church called St Peters, has lost none of its charm and wow factor but the same can’t be said for the bar itself.
The back bar was almost bare and the claim of ‘Liverpool’s Most Spectacular Venue’ seemed a little hopeful. The staff however were great and a quick chat revealed they were between bar managers at the moment hence the stock issues.
Let’s hope that someone comes on board and gives this once iconic Liverpool bar the love and attention the venue and staff deserve.
Berry & Rye: 48 Berry Street L1 4JQ
For years Aloha Bar has been providing all things Tiki to the streets of Liverpool however recently the owners decided it was time to spread their wings, and Berry & Rye was born.
With a street entrance that sees guests knocking on a door to gain entry before walking into a small, exposed brick and wood bar with jazz emanating from the speakers, it would be very easy to label this another Speakeasy, but that is missing the point. This is much more like a bar you would find on the back streets of New Orleans, the feel, the music and the drinks all transported BarLifeUK back to the home of Tales.
As you would expect with Danny Murphy involved the drinks are superb and it is one of those venue’s that you could easily lose an evening too. The menu (hidden in a book) has a whiskey and rye lean to it with an insert giving seasonal specials which were very welcome on a chilly Northern night.
Berry & Rye is a must visit on any trip to Liverpool and we will be returning soon when we don’t have to move on quite so quickly.
Bartender Callum Eaton knocked up a couple of drinks for us using the Bulldog Bold including this refreshing cocktail:
40ml Bulldog Bold
15ml Lime juice
15ml (2: 1) Demerara sugar syrup
50ml Coconut water
Build and churn in a Collins glass. Garnish with a lime wheel.
Mojo: The Stables, Back Berry Street L1 4BG
BarLifeUK are big fans of the Mojo bars. One of the attractions is the fact each bar has it’s very own feel yet the décor, drinks and music selection always leave you in no doubt that you are in a Mojo bar.
The Liverpool incarnation is much larger than the Leeds original with exposed roof beams and a long bar dominating one wall ensuring even on a crazy Saturday night service is not an issue. Manager Scott Simpson was on hand to grab us some drinks and catch up on adventures since he joined us in Jamaica last year.
Food is a new addition to the Mojo offering and it is going down a storm. The wings in particular have taken off with Wings Wednesday getting Scott very excited.
Almost Famous: 11 – 15 Parr Street L1 4JN
Another new addition to the Liverpool bar scene is Beau Myers first foray outside Manchester with his burgers and booze concept Almost Famous. This new venue (opposite Santa Chupitos) is yet another Liverpool venue with a high ceiling (we were beginning to get stiff necks by this point) which they have utilised with a big scaffold back bar.
The burgers are definitely a draw here with a mouth-watering menu pride of place on the wall however the booze element is certainly not overlooked.
The whole venue is design with a big side order of cheeky fun which extends itself to the cocktail menu featuring concoctions such as ‘Unicorn Vomit’ and ‘Bitch Juice’. They are joined by Boozy Milkshakes and sharing drinks (or Massive Bevies as they are called here), a trend which was prevalent throughout Liverpool’s bars.
Almost Famous is definitely a great addition to the local scene which may well result in an increase in the city’s obesity rate.
Whilst we were getting a tour of the upstairs area Josh Maudsley jumped behind the bar and came up with this cocktail for us:
37.5ml Bulldog Bold
12.5ml Velvet Falernum
25ml Lemon juice
1.5 Barspoons of caster sugar
Handful of mint
Muddle mint with sugar before adding other ingredients and shaking with ice. Double strain.
Maya: Under Luca Libre, 96 Wood Street L1 4DQ
Located under Mexican restaurant Luca Libre is a tequila bar designed around the Day of the Dead celebrations. They tell you to keep an eye out for the red crucifix and from that moment on you are in an alternative reality.
The bar is dark and ceilings low, there are great touches around the room to ensure you are constantly reminded of the bars Mexican inspiration from the artwork adorning the walls to the horse saddle stools.
The menu also leaves you in no doubt where you are with each cocktail given its own tarot card design. It is, unsurprisingly, very tequila heavy with some classics interspersed with tasty sounding originals. The Paloma’s were particularly good, made with a traditional Mexican grape fruit soda called Jarritos.
Like any good Tequila bar we left with fuzzy heads and a spring in our step.
Aloha: 22 Colquitt Street L1 4DE
Some cities have a bar that is always the final stop on your night out. Manchester has Liars Club and Liverpool has Aloha. Liverpool’s den of iniqui-tiki has swallowed us up on more than one occasion and this trip was no exception.
Since our last visit Danny and the team have ‘blown-up’ the bar and built an extended version to knock out Tiki cocktails on an even bigger scale. Within minutes we were clutching hollowed out pineapples full of a rum based concoction complete with plastic sword skewered cherrys.
Aloha is Tiki turned up to 11 with bamboo, neon and Hawaiian inspired wallpaper everywhere. The drinks are usually served with a side order of fire and the punters all seem to be grinning from ear to ear (the overproof might have something to do with that).
Once again Aloha proved to be the final nail in our drinking coffin and at some point we must have called it a night because we woke up in our hotel the next morning.
Connor Bloomfield and Si Taylor knocked up this Tiki inspired Bulldog Bold creation:
50ml Bulldog Bold
10ml Velvet Falernum
10ml Passion fruit syrup
20ml Lemon juice
Shaken and served in a tall glass over ice with a Tiki garnish.
The new additions to the Liverpool bar scene have given it even more reasons to be visited and celebrated. Often overlooked in favour of its neighbours Manchester and Leeds, Liverpool deserves to be mentioned in the same breath.
Like its northern neighbours the fun element of drinking is alive and well in Liverpool. Grim faced bartenders and overly complicated cocktails would not be tolerated, this city is about enjoyment and tasty drinks and we for one salute it.
Oh and whilst your up there why not check out Danny Murphy and Paul ‘Murph’ Murphy’s independent off-licence Whisky Business, which is full of goodies and also has its own bar attached, Jennys Bar, which was unfortunately closed on the night we were in town but with those two in charge will undoubtedly be well worth a visit.