Being a city that is infamous for its vibrant culture and fun-loving ways, it is no surprise that this beautiful seaside town is packed full of weird and wonderful bars. If you know where to look, you can find a whole array of unique and exciting Brighton bars where you can quench your thirst while catching up with pals. From 20s-inspired cabaret hideouts and secret speakeasies to immersive cocktail experiences and themed watering holes – there is a bar in Brighton to suit every taste. To help you find one that suits you just right, we have put together a list of the best bars in Brighton in 2021.
In this Brighton bar guide, we have carefully whittled the extensive selection of bars in Brighton down to just our top 10 favourites that you must visit. Each Brighton bar is unique in its own way and offers something different to the nightlife scene in this seaside haunt. So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and discover the very best Brighton bars that you won’t want to miss – whether you’re visiting for the weekend, live there or are planning a staycation, these are the best bars in Brighton you should try during your stay.
The Best Bars in Brighton
THE PLOTTING PARLOUR – THE BEST BAR IN BRIGHTON FOR COCKTAILS
Located on Kemptown’s Stein Street, The Plotting Parlour is an intimate little bar that is best known for its excellent selection of cocktails, as well as it array of international and local beers and top-quality wines. This cosy Brighton bar is popular amongst tourists and locals alike, with a welcoming, homely interior, complete with sophisticated leather armchairs, low lighting and 1920s-style swing music playing in the background and creating a chilled, laid-back ambience as friends reunite over a few relaxed drinks.
While the wine and beer selections at The Plotting Parlour are impressive, it is their inventive cocktail creations that are the true highlight of this bar in Brighton. You can choose from cocktails, including a Ginger & Chilli Margarita (tequila, ginger and chilli salt), a Sage Against the Machine (whisky, amaretto and sage), a Paloma Paloma (tequila, grapefruit and tomato) or a classic Salted Caramel Espresso Martini. It is fair to say that The Plotting Parlour takes cocktails seriously, winning a number of awards for their creations and service. The cocktails at this Brighton bar are truly on another level, making it truly deserving of a place on this list of the best bars in Brighton 2021.
MESMERIST BAR – THE BEST BRIGHTON BAR FOR RETRO MUSIC
Situated in the heart of Brighton’s Lanes, The Mesmerist is one of Brighton’s most popular bars, attracting hundreds of visitors each week. A sophisticated lounge bar, The Mesmerist’s interior is inspired by 1930s burlesque venues, a theme that also runs throughout the retro tunes that are played in the background. Playing everything from 30s, 40s and 50s classics to jazz, swing and rock ‘n’ roll, the music at this Brighton bar definitely makes it stand out. The entertainment at The Mesmerist is as varied as the bar itself, holding a range of events, such as circus performances, live swing musicians, burlesque dancers and even party DJs.
This trendy bar in Brighton is spread across a total of three floors and offers a choice of uniquely styled rooms and spaces – whether you want to enjoy some top-quality food or an expertly mixed cocktail. The Mesmerist bar somehow manages to effortlessly ooze style and sophistication without coming across as pretentious. Despite the sleek decor and cool vibes, you will feel right at home while you catch up with friends over a bottle of wine, a family meal or a cocktail night with your mates. What makes this Brighton bar that bit better and certainly deserving of a place on this list is the roof garden which is perfect for sipping on deliciously sweet cocktails as you soak up the summer sun.
GUNGHO – THE BEST SUSTAINABLE BAR IN BRIGHTON
Chances are you haven’t been to a sustainable cocktail bar before or, maybe you haven’t even heard of one. Well, over on Preston Street, you will find Gungho, the best (and only) sustainable cocktail bar in Brighton. So, what do we mean by sustainable cocktail bar? Gungho uses seasonal British produce and local foraging to create delicious cocktails. Think freshly squeezed and pressed juices, syrups and shrubs made from scratch and then shaken and poured into fancy glasses over hand-chipped ice blocks. What results, is some truly delectable and dangerously drinkable drinks that will definitely have you coming back for more.
The bar menu is split into three distinct concepts: Revised Disco Drinks, Seasonal Cocktails and The Apothecary. The Revised Disco Drinks selection comprises a list of all your favourite disco-era cocktails with a modern twist. For example, Banana Daiquiri, Whiskey Sour, White Russian and Grasshopper. Or, if you fancy something a little more avant-garde, you can choose from a selection of more contemporary creations on the Seasonal Cocktails menu, including the Seaweed, the Cherry, the Lavender or the Cucumber/Mugwort. Finally, if you’re the designated driver for the night or just don’t fancy taking the risk of a hangover the next day, you might choose to opt for The Apothecary list; a selection of soft drinks that exploit the power of plants for hedonistic and beneficial effects. For example, the Damiana (foraged gorse, coconut, soured raspberry and soda) is supposed to be an aphrodisiac while being uplifting and aiding digestion. Meanwhile, the Lion’s Mane (fig, cacao, espresso and oat milk) is supposedly a stimulant, a nerve booster, improves cognitive function and boosts serotonin.
THE JOKER – THE BEST SOPHISTICATED BRIGHTON BAR
Located in the Preston Circus area of Brighton, The Joker is a lively pub/bar which is something of a landmark in this seaside town. During the summer months, satisfied revellers can be seen seated on the street-side benches while tucking into baskets of Lost Boys Chicken. What you might not have realised, however, is that tucked away upstairs lurks an elegantly styled cocktail lounge which offers a rather more relaxed atmosphere compared to that of the lively downstairs bar. Upstairs @ The Joker is a stylishly refurbished, intimate space set above the busy Preston Circus, with huge windows, plush velvet sofas, a hand-carved rosewood bar and a traditional cocktail menu. But that’s not all – there is even a games room that has been decorated to the finest stunning degree and boasts a pool table, dartboard and a Wifi-enabled smart TV.
The cocktail bar menu comprises a tantalising selection of classic cocktails, as well as a few cheeky twists. If you’re looking for something old-timely and traditional then opt for the Classic Margarita, the Espresso Martini or the Cosmopolitan. In fact, this Brighton bar is so good at shaking up cocktails that you can literally request any classic cocktail even if it’s not on the menu. Alternatively, perhaps you’re feeling a little more adventurous? If so, why not opt for the Smoke & Thyme (rum, maple, pecan and thyme), the Snowdrop (gin, white chocolate liqueur and eau de fleur) or the Birds & Bees (gin, salted honey and cucumber). The cocktail lounge is even available for private hire for up to 40 people, making it one of the best bars in Brighton for a big party with friends or a family get together.
MRS FITZHERBERTS – THE BEST BRIGHTON BAR WITH A ROOF TERRACE
You may have already heard of the infamous Mrs Fitzherberts, not only for her passionate love affair with King George IV, which is at the very core of Brighton’s history, but also for the popular bar located just a stones throw from the Royal Pavilion, right in the centre of the city. However, what you might not know about is Mrs Fitz’s hidden gardens, on the roof terrace. Featuring an brilliant retractable roof, the roof terrace is open all year round, no matter what the weather. At the ‘Lost Gardens of Fitzherbert’, you can sit back, relax and indulge in some amazing cocktail creations of every shape and size. Whether you’re wanting something sweet or sour, simple or complex, traditional or modern – this unique roof-top terrace bar in Brighton has a cocktail just for you.
Designed with eccentric features throughout, this Brighton bar is wacky and wonderful in equal measure. Stand-out decor pieces include female busts, crucifixes and a whole jungle of potted plants. This quirky theme even extends to the drinks menu, with cocktails served in teapots and an array of Brighton’s best craft beer. Choose from classic cocktails, including a mojito, an old fashioned or a negroni. Or, maybe you’re after something with a little twist? If that’s the case, then you should opt for a Pabu’s Tipple (orange blossom and peach daiquiri), a Winter Aperol Spritz or Maria’s Paloma. Or, if there’s group of you, you could order one of their sharing options – a Rub’a Dub Teapot (Smirnoff vodka, Prosecco, ginger and winter berries) or a Zombieland Teapot (Captain Morgan’s white, dark and spiced rum, grenadine, lemon, bitters and Absanthe mist). The bold decor, quirky cocktails, craft beer selection and all-round friendly vibes are all what make this haunt one of the best bars in Brighton.
BRIGHTON ROCKS – THE BEST NEW ORLEANS INSPIRED BAR IN BRIGHTON
Kemptown’s best kept secret, Brighton Rocks bar is by far one of the best bars in Brighton. A recent change of ownership has seen this Brighton bar have a cool interior transformation. Now, Brighton Rocks is an intimate, quirky bar with super friendly staff and a carefully selected drinks menu. Boasting an impressive range of gins, bourbons and vodkas, you are certain to find something that suits your tastes. The bar is complete with a 4-foot high sugar skull, a raised deck area out front for warmer nights and plenty of comfortable seating inside. The food at this bar in Brighton also deserves a mention – currently something of a local secret, this trendy venue doesn’t just serve up your usual pub grub. Instead, think pan-seared Rainbow Trout with garlic & tarragon potato cake and a Samfire and Prosecco cream sauce, as well as twists on the usual dishes of Mac ‘n’ Cheese and Fish ‘n’ Chips.
As for the drinks, you can choose from a list of ‘The Usual Suspects’, including classics like the mojito, cosmopolitan, long island and a margarita. Or, you can opt for something ‘Fun & Fruity’ with a Koko Colada (coconut rum, pineapple juice, coconut cream) or a Jazzberry Mojito (Bacardi, mixed berries, lime, mint, sugar). Or, pick from the ‘Fizzy & Frothy’ selection for something with a little texture, including the Sours (bourbon, lemon bitters, sugar, egg white) or the Americano (campari, sweet vermouth, soda). If none of those take your fancy, then you can always opt for one of the ‘Bartender’s Creations’ which are sure to have you coming back for more. These include creatively thought up inventions like the Scotch Bonnet (gin, Scotch Bonnet chilli, lemon juice, vanilla and raspberry), the Flaming Margarita (tequila, Naga chilli, cointreau, lime juice, salt and cayenne rim) or the Highland Charge (drambuie, vanilla and espresso).
TWISTED LEMON – THE BEST UNIQUE BAR IN BRIGHTON
Hidden amongst the maze of alleys and passageways that make up Brighton’s Lanes, Twisted Lemon cocktail bar is a laid-back hideaway that serves a list of delicious cocktails, beers, wine and a small and simple menu of food. Wedged between and behind two Brighton buildings, Twisted Lemon is definitely a bar for those in the know. However, a touch of yellow is sure to catch your eye – this represents the entrance to this quirky Brighton bar and a portal to hours of fun with friends. Spread across two floors, there is ample seating space for up to 50 people, along with an intimate garden and rustic patio area that’s great for winding away warm summer evenings.
This is the best bar in Brighton for anyone who dubs themselves a cocktail crooner. This Brighton cocktail bar doesn’t just employ any old bar staff, they employ those with a little cocktail panache, who can concoct only the most creative and delicious drinks available. From true classics whipped up in a flash to Banoffee Pie Martinis that take you back to your childhood and Whisky Sours to get your taste buds tingling. And, if an extensive selection of incredible cocktails wasn’t enough to get Twisted Lemon on this best bars in Brighton list, they have also created their very own range of beer and wine.
PLATEAU – THE BEST WINE BAR IN BRIGHTON
Plateau Brighton is an unpretentious and effortlessly trendy restaurant and award-winning bar, located in the heart of Brighton’s Lanes. A small, elegant interior that boasts large Georgian windows, high ceilings and minimalist decor, this paired-back Brighton bar champions a relaxing ambience, an enviable selection of natural wines and exquisitely prepared contemporary sharing plates, created from locally sourced and sustainable ingredients. A super chilled bar in Brighton, Plateau are extremely flexible to meet your needs – feel free to drop by for a quick drink and some nibbles, or tuck into one of their incredible sharing platters, which change regularly based on the season.
At Plateau, they like to keep things simple and carefully sourced natural wines are at the top of the menu here. So, if wine is your thing then this is definitely the best bar in Brighton for you, with an offering of more than 20 wines by the glass that frequently change.. A lot of time, research and testing has gone into compiling this exclusive wine list. The natural, organic wines that are served at this Brighton bar encapsulate Plateau’s ideology around ethics, sustainability and quality. It is the perfect place to meet with friends for a glass (or two), go on a romantic date or celebrate a special occasion. While wine is their speciality, though, this bar in Brighton also boasts cocktails that are too good not to mention. Using the best quality ingredients, small batch liqueurs and a collection of worldwide spirits, an experienced team of bartenders shake up delicious artisan cocktails.
THE GIN TUB – THE BEST GIN BAR IN BRIGHTON
This is the best bar in Brighton for you if you’re a true gin fan. Located on Church Road, in Hove, The Gin Tub bar stocks well over 100 gins, as well as serving a beautiful selection of cocktails, craft beers and real ales. Just a stones throw away from the Brighton seafront, its quirky decor and unique concept draw in the crowds. Each table is equipped with a retro dial-up telephone that is linked directly to the bar so you can order food and drinks right from where you’re sitting. Or, if you prefer, you can dial up another table and have a chat with a complete stranger.
Bursting with vibrant colours and endless imagination, the friendly and knowledgable team of bartenders put their many years of experience to the test, concocting up delicious gin-based cocktails from an array of spices, fruits and spirits. These cocktails are so well made that they could convert even the harshest of gin critics. Choose from their selection of ‘Instagrammable Cocktails’ for something your social media followers will be envious of, including the Bubblegum Royale (bubblegum gin and Prosecco), the Toblerone Martini (Bailey’s, Frangelico, Kahlua, cream and coffee) and the You’ve Got Mail (gin liqueur, Cointreau, lemon, sugar, and egg whites) served in a pink bathtub and captured with a polaroid picture sent to you via, of course, Royal Mail. There is also a selection of classic cocktails for those who aren’t feeling so adventurous and whole load more that are divided into categories depending on the type of gin they’re made with; Pink Gin, Flavoured Gin, Sweetie Gin, Dry Gin, Craft Gin, European Gin or World Gin. What more could you possibly want from a gin bar in Brighton?
THE DADDY LONGLEGS – THE BEST BRIGHTON BAR WITH PUB VIBES
The owners of The Plotting Parlour (also on this list) have recently and, after an incredible refurbishment, opened an informal and beautifully refurbished pub-take-bar in the trendy Kemptown area of Brighton called The Daddy Longlegs. The pub’s name honours the legacy of the infamous Brighton to Rottingdean Seashore Electric ‘Volks Railway’ which was also lovingly referred to as The Daddy Longlegs because of the 23-foot high stilts that held the fort-five ton carriage as it cruised along the shore. This Brighton bar is a welcoming venue that creates a calm but vibrant atmosphere with its fully grassed garden and chic decor. The interior of this bar in Brighton boasts a rustic wooden floor, a modern bar area and reupholstered bar stools, seamlessly blending the old and the new. This bar is the kind of relaxed place you can nip into for a pint after a long Sunday walk in your wellies or spend a Saturday night sipping cocktails or Prosecco.
The chilled Daddy Longlegs bar team are super welcoming and go a long way to creating the laid-back atmosphere that makes this pub so deserving of a place on this list of the best bars in Brighton. Whether you’re looking for premium spirits, local sparkling wine, luxury bottles of Prosecco, imaginative cocktails or unique craft beers, The Daddy Longlegs bar has you totally covered. The bar also serves up top-quality meat and cheese platters, as well as small plates and hot dishes, to enjoy while you drink.
Now you’ve discovered the best bars in Brighton in 2021, why not go ahead and take a look at the best cocktail bars in York too?