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Fine spirits: Festive cocktail ideas

Weighing up where to go for Christmas drinks? We sampled a few concoctions in the name of getting into the festive mood.

The season to make merry is upon us, and if you’re anything like us, you’ll be spending any moments not taken up with Christmas shopping, larder stocking, or hurriedly working towards end-of-term deadlines, kicking back with a boozy beverage. Sorry, not sorry, etc, etc. If you love your spiritous potions but you’re not sure where best to begin in Bristol, here are just a couple of our current favourite cocktail spots to get you started as well as some suggestions for having a go at home…

Hyde & Co

Hidden in plain sight just off Clifton Triangle, Bristol’s original modern-day speakeasy is still winning awards and pushing boundaries. Founded by local trio Nathan Lee, Kevin Stokes and Jason Mead, it has become one of the city’s best-loved drinking dens, spawning sister bar The Milk Thistle, The Ox restaurants, Pata Negra and Bambalan. The ethos has always been to provide drinkers with a unique sense of escapism and make them feel as if they’ve stepped back in time, with as much of a focus on quirky decor as exceptional drinks. The latest menu, ‘The Last Carnival’, has garnered accolades including a spot on the prestigious Imbibe Drinks List of the Year, and is inspired by 1920s New Orleans, telling the tale – through the medium of cocktails – of an intrepid private investigator who becomes embroiled in a grisly murder case. The team are currently creating the next instalment of their story, with a menu inspired by 1920s Paris and the Art Nouveau movement.

❅ Snow Ball ❅ 40ml Martell VS Cognac, 20ml spiced sugar syrup, 25ml cream, 12.5ml Pimento Dram, whole egg. Shake hard, serve long, finish with lemonade.Bocabar

We love a little light boozing in Bocabar’s fairy-lit, redbrick warehouse, dotted with vintage lamps, comfy sofas, local art and interesting artefacts for sale, and complementing the creative Paintworks spirit. Their ideas are quirky (ever tried the Wham Bar Sling? It’s got an actual Wham Bar in it) and we always pop in for a Porcelana when we can – an Espresso Martini reworking where rum and chocky bitters take centre stage.

❅ Clover Leaf ❅ 30ml Death’s Door gin, 30ml Twisted Nose dry vermouth, 20ml freshly squeezed lemon juice, 10ml Bristol Syrup Company raspberry syrup, half an egg white. Dry-shake the egg white hard for 10 seconds. Add all other ingredients with cubed ice. Shake and fine strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with mint leaf.

Harvey Nichols

The Second Floor Bar, with its silver ceiling and long marbled bar, is an elegant, relaxed space with cocktails designed by an award-winning expert mixology team. There’s a regular programme of cocktail masterclasses that can be booked privately if you fancy some one-to-one tuition, plus a resident DJ kicking off the weekend on the last Friday of the month. Here are a couple of Victoria Burt’s current favourite tipples:

❅ The Gentleman and the Pirate ❅ 20ml Gentleman Jack whiskey, 20ml Pyrat XO Rum, 12.5ml Ancyho Reyas chili liqueur, 12.5ml caramel syrup, a dash Jerry Thomas Own Decanter Bitters, one dried orange wheel and pecan nuts to garnish.

❅ Chase This ❅ 20ml Finlandia, 20ml Chase rhubarb vodka, 15ml lemon juice, 15ml rhubarb liqueur, 5ml pomegranate syrup.

Her Majesty’s Secret Service

Classy Clifton punch house HMSS has launched a light-hearted, illustrated menu journeying through Britain’s favourite landmarks and attractions, from the White Cliffs of Dover to Loch Ness, with intriguing ingredients such as acorn vermouth, laughing gas and even a chip of ‘prehistoric stone’… Founder Ben Alcock and the team designed their ‘Guide To The British Isles’ in the style of a vintage pocket edition travel companion – a great conversation starter in itself if you’re planning a festive first date this month. Expect cocktails of the interactive, playful and impeccably presented kind – a far cry from your standard concoction. We loved the Loch Ness Mobster (silver tequila, peach wine, lemon, absinthe, laughing gas) and the Twister (a creamy creation featuring pear voddy and kiwi sherbet) over a game of Jenga; equally the beautiful celery and asparagus-infused Greenhouse Project.