Time to head out, we reckon. And whether you’re after an afternoon bottle of vino with mates, an early evening date-night cocktail or simply somewhere to kick back with a tipple and a book, Liverpool’s bar scene has it down. This city may boast some of the country’s most charming traditional pubs, but to see this city at its buzziest, you’ve got to shake things up with a bar crawl (or at least a trip to a one of the city’s many world-class drinking dens). Liverpool has a decent mix of bars established and new, and like so much of what makes the city’s nightlife scene so great, it’s the independent venues you’ve got to head to for the freshest, most diverse and original mixology. So... feeling thirsty? Read on for our guide to the best bars in Liverpool right now.
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Best bars in Liverpool
A Liverpool institution, Café Tabac has been keeping its bohemian clientele topped up on food and booze since the early ’70s. Back in the day this was a go-to for the city’s LGBTQ+ community, and while that’s still the case, it’s a welcoming space for all – head inside to put the world to rights over cocktails or a bottle of very reasonably priced wine.
The kind of place you can go to any time of day and be guaranteed an excellent time, the Baltic Social serves tip-top food – burgers especially – and some very drinkable craft beers. There are good vegan options, and the soundtrack is varied. Come in the evening and you may catch a live band or cabaret act.
Tucked inside the historic Albany Building, The Puffin Rooms has become pilgrimage-worthy destination for whiskey drinkers up north. And no wonder, there are plenty of varieties to choose from in this sophisticated space. There’s also nightly live jazz (and blues on a Sunday afternoon), a decent food menu, and a cigar lounge next door should you fancy a different kinda puffin’.
If you like your nights out to be steeped in a little mystery, Berry and Rye is the bar for you. This is a purposely hard-to-find, knock-three-times kind of place. But once you’re in, expect delicious drinks served in a low-lit, intimate setting. When it comes to drinking, this might be the city’s best-kept secret.
Whisk yourself away to Paris at this French-inspired Lark Lane address. The pared-back décor is très français, and so too is the delightful wine and cocktail menu. Add bistro-style small plates and occasional live music, and Polidor 68 makes for the ultimate Liverpool date.
For a relaxed daytime lunch and a glass or two of prosecco in sweet-smelling surrounds, try The Florist. Essentially an indoor garden, this Hardman Street venue serves food that’s a few grades above your standard picnic and there’s a decent cocktail, wine and ale selection, too.
Down at Albert Dock, ye olde Smuggler’s Cove specialises in, you guessed it, rum. And specialise it does, with some 150 varieties available. That means rum-based cocktails dominate the drinks menu in this atmospheric bar, but there’s also some decent grub. And as for the décor, think... ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’.
A tea house that’s equally beloved for its light lunches, coffee and friendly atmosphere, Leaf’s bar offering shouldn’t be overlooked. Our highlight? The selection of moreish smoked gins. The venue also hosts art exhibitions, vintage markets and live music – so you can enjoy more than just your drink when you head down to Bold Street.
If you’re into your Mexican food, you’d do well to drop by Wood Street’s Lucha Libre. But venture downstairs, beneath the neon cross, and you’re in for a totally different experience at Maya. This tequila and cocktail bar draws inspiration from the Dia de Los Muertos, Mexico’s ‘Day of the Dead’. You’ll be filling up with, erm, spirits all night long.
With its exposed brick and crumbling plaster, The Merchant’s industrial interior is offset with bright neon, wooden benches and loads of hanging plants inside, making it much cosier than you might initially expect. The beer garden is lovely place to relax and unwind, with music at just the right volume to allow you to have a good ol’ natter. Perfect for a mid-week, post-work drink.
A striking conversion of the former St Peter’s Catholic Church, this restaurant-cum-bar-cum-club is as glam a drinking den as you’ll get in Liverpool. And what will make you stay? The drinks and eclectic Latin pop soundtrack, no doubt. Head here for a flavour of the Caribbean in the ’Pool.