Friday, 8 March 2013

A trip to Bristol and two gems… Hyde and Co (20/20) and The Woods (19/20)

Let’s start at Hyde and Co, the top of a steep hill for ladies in heels!

Location: 2 The Basement, Berkley Cresecent

Visit: Various mid-week evenings

To Note: It is “speakeasy” but following the address is easy and buzz to be let in

Ambiance: 5/5
Design: 5/5
Drinks: 5/5
Staff: 5/5
Extra LBS star: I’ll stick to top marks

The entrance
Now as I was writing up the scores I found I really could not fault this bar. And that is even taking into account how everyone I’d met told me how great the bar scene in Bristol is.

Once inside (a buzzer outside flashes the bar lights so you will not be disturbed once in) the space is nicely designed to feel like you can curl up in a corner for a tete-a-tete or pull up a chair at the bar and enjoy the skills of the bar staff. Lighting is subtle and comfy couches sit alongside low antique tables and large mottled mirrors; You know the style. The music is jazzy 20’s style but I would describe Bristol as “speak easy” by necessity. It is the spaces that offer themselves to this concept rather than bar owners going out to create a speakeasy. If that makes sense…
Spey Honey

The bar manager Mark is an absolute star handling drink orders with panache, never breaking off a conversation and he treated me to a tasty nip of aged Tapasita tequila, friend for life! The menu is intriguing enough to have a read rather than going off-piste and I would seriously recommend the Spey Honey made with Glenrothes whisky and plum liqueur – a favourite ingredient of mine. And whilst Mark makes the drinks the floor staff flit from table to table ensuring you have enough water, drinks and are generally content. Which everyone is.

So, one not to miss and onto…

The Woods

Location: 1 Park Street Avenue

Visit: Various mid-week evenings

To Note:  Another steep hill ladies but not so long!

Ambiance: 4/5
Design: 5/5
Drinks: 5/5
Staff: 5/5

I think if I get to revisit The Woods in summer, this will easily be a 20/20 with a courtyard to enjoy the warmer weather in. As is, this reminds me somewhat of Milk Thistle in Bristol (sister to Hyde&Co) with a grand country house style, dark green walls, the bar on the ground floor and a wooden balcony above overlooking this ground floor room and its walls lined with some interested skulls.  Similarly the seating is either leather couches or pull up a high stool at the bar. (I was also told that this venue really picks up later on with the ground floor packing out for dancing).

Their cocktail menus tend to go walk about so best just to have a chat with the very competent staff, and come armed with sweet/sour, long/short and a base spirit; let them do the rest. And if your base spirit is whisky or bourbon all the better because with over 100 you are spoilt for choice. I tried an oooold Bruichladdich as a special treat then their recommended – current – favourite bourbon, Rock Hill Farm

Staff were very happy to chat between making drinks whilst also being aware of other customers, the music etc, basically a well-run joint. So why the point off? As I mentioned I was not here at the right time, and a group of friends, half of whom were doing shots of Patron Café in the corner, seemed a little odd for a Wednesday 9pm. 

Another one to hit for a boogie once you have had your quiet chat at Hyde & Co.

Overall, Bristol has a lot to offer with Milk Thistle, Goldbrick House and Hausbar all pushing boundaries and great restaurants (try Cherry Duck) helping too

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