Sticky carpets, warm beer, cold chips and locals looking at you like you’ve just ordered a white wine spritzer during a Millwall match. Give the Dog and Duchess a swerve and head for one of the UK’s finest themed watering holes.
From cocktail labs and speakeasies to pirate hideaways and secret arcades, here are the best themed bars in the UK. Cheers!
134 Bevois Valley Road, Southampton, SO14 0JZ
“Not all who wander are lost” and not all who drink here are Lord of the Rings fans, but of great beer and even better times. Although if you are a die-hard Tolkienite then you’ll be able to enjoy a massive variety of Middle Earth-based references from the names of the drinks on the menu to The Hobbit’s unique décor. “A Witch King of Angmar please… Can I get a straw with that?”.
Mr. Fogg’s Residence
15 Bruton Lane, Mayfair, London, W1J 6JD
If you ever wondered just how brilliantly, quintessentially British a bar could get, then this is it. A treasure trove of cool colonial style from our United Kingdom of quirkiness, served up with some of Mr. Fogg’s finest boozy tea. Phileas would be proud.
127 Shoreditch High Street, London, E1 6JE
Live sport, beer, table football and, errrr, beer. Bar Kick has everything mankind needs after the working week in stripped back, chilled out surroundings, perfect for hammering your mates 11-0 on one of the Bonzini football tables. Even pro players have been known to stop by if you’re a table-footballing Messi looking for a real challenge.
13 Kingly Court, Carnaby, London, W1B 5PG
I say, chap, what we have in Cahoots is one of the finest bars in all of London town with cocktails from a period where men were men and women were… Still telling us what time to be home by. But for a brief moment the wooden escalators, 1940s tube carriage seats and tiled platform bar will transport you to a time where the only thing that wasn’t rationed out was the alcohol. Jolly good show.
King’s Road, Chelsea, London
Using WW2 Enigma machines, spy protocols and Sherlock’s (yep, that Sherlock) principles of deduction, The Bletchley will have you cracking cocktail codes to order your drinks and find out just what it is that’s making your secret drink so damn delicious. Suave, stylish and incredibly cool, if Bond circa 1962 were to drink anywhere, this would be it.
455 Hackney Road, London, E29DY
Go the full Walter White at the Breaking Bad themed ABQ, the world’s first molecular cocktail bar set inside a very familiar RV. To a soundtrack of hardcore gangster rap, you and your jump suited cooks will create cocktails before breaking Heisenberg’s rules and sampling a taste of your own ‘blue sky’. The only thing missing is a Los Pollos Hermanos chicken shop for afters.
Chance and Counters
20 Christmas Steps, Bristol, BS1 5BS
No matter how many times you’ve topped the Call of Duty leaderboards, there’s nothing like the feeling of beating somebody across the table at an ole fashioned board game, pint in hand. It’s this that makes Chance and Counters special, a bar that demands you drop smartphones, forget worries and have an amazing time battling it out with your mates. It’s pure table top nostalgia and we love it.
Her Majesty’s Secret Service
Whiteladies Gate, Whiteladies Road, Bristol, BS8 2PH
Connery, Niven, Lazenby, Moore, Dalton, Brosnan, Craig… You? Anybody can assume the cool, collected persona of Bond in the comfort of Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Caricatures of past 007’s line the walls while the drinks menu is a Q’s arsenal of concoctions including a Laughing Gas Cocktail. It’s a stylish drinking den that cannot be called anything less than ‘must-visit’. After all, you only live twice.
The Book Cover
Portland House, Longbrook Street, Exeter, EX4 6AU
Let chief librarian ‘Mrs Lebowski’ hear The Book Cover’s changing password and you’ll be granted entry into a library-themed alcoholic paradise where the stiff prohibition era cocktails run thick and the entertainment is stunning, with vibrant electro swing acts, close up magicians and the occasional flapper girl completing the grand slam speakeasy feel. Cheers.
2 City Arcade, Birmingham, B2 4TX
Unleash your inner pinball wizard in this amazing secret arcade in the heart of Brum, that features a drinks list that hits a high score with your taste buds every time it’s fired across your central nervous system. With themed tables including Star Wars, Star Trek, X-Men and yes, even Game of Thrones, you can lose hours at a time in this phenomenal bar – time well spent we’d argue.
The Jekyll & Hyde
28 Steelhouse Lane, Birmingham, B4 6BJ
The Dr. Jekyll’s among you will insist that gin “Isn’t a manly drink”, the Mr. Hyde’s will scoff while taking on some of the 40% proof blends found behind this Victorian vintage bar. This gin emporium is not for the faint of heart or for the weak of taste, but the alcoholic rewards are great. And just like Jekyll’s serum, these cocktails should be handled with care.
Revolucion de Cuba
The Friary, Cardiff, CF10 3FA
Viva la revolucion! This is a fiesta of flavour, flaming drinks and gorgeous mamasita’s in a cool Cuban backdrop best enjoyed with an ice-cold piña colada. That being said, Revolucion de Cuba’s innovative originals, including the Jolly Green Sailor with an absinthe mist, are an absolute must. It’s a Havanan paradise in the heart of Cardiff.
22 Caroline Street, Cardiff, CF10 1FG
Crafting the perfect man-cocktail is a science and Lab 22 have the formula. This bar resembles a mad scientist’s lair with steaming drinks, scientific paraphernalia and, wait for it, fire-breathing bartenders to create an alcoholic experience unlike any that you’ve had before. Industrial Oil cocktail anybody?
22 Fletcher Gate, Nottingham, NG1 2FZ
Whether you’re a regular ping pong Roger Federer or a whiff whaff wannabe, Das Kino is a cool, neon lit temple to the game that even gets Boris Johnson excited. The tables are all competition standard, so the only thing you’ll have to blame for an ‘off-game’ is an incredible range of beers, which isn’t surprising considering that the bar draws much of its influence from German Cinema.
34-38 Rutland Street, Culture Quarter, Leicester, LE1 1RD
There are speakeasies and then there’s Manhattan34, a full-flavoured, taste-splosion of man-cocktails all wrapped up in art-deco surroundings that’ll make you want to put on your best Peaky Blinders suit and act like the sophisticated gent your mother always knew you could be. Add the GOT inspired Mother of Dragons cocktail and you’ve got a bar that can only described as truly original.
4-6 Rose Crescent, Cambridge, CB2 3LL
Amazing tapas? Check. Delicious cocktails? Check. Live music? Check, check, check. La Raza is a Spanish fiesta of epic proportions with uber-talented bartenders, some of Cambridge’s best up-and-coming music acts and a drinks menu as long as a list of Andres Iniesta’s career trophies. Salud!
The Smuggler’s Cove
Britannia Pavilion, Albert Dock, Liverpool, L3 4AD
This is where all the rum’s gone! The Smuggler’s Cove transports you from the streets of Liverpool to a candlelit pirate hideaway with a bounty of cocktails that’d have Jack Sparrow on the deck. Including the mutinous Gunpowders & Painkillers, brewed with Pusser’s Gunpowder strength rum, orange, pineapple and a healthy dose of fire.
Death Row Diner
32 Hope Street (basement), Liverpool, L1 9BX
LED-screen mugshots burst from Death Row Diner’s walls while neon-crimson light creates an edgy atmosphere for taking on unique cocktails, craft beers and meals that are certainly worthy of being your last. DRD is one of Liverpool’s most creative bars and isn’t afraid to break a few conventions to leave you convicted of having had an incredible night.
Arch 57, Whitworth St West, Manchester, M1 5WW
Whether you’re a regular kingpin or a bumper bowler, the Dog Bowl is the place to be in Manchester. This neon-lit bowling alley is a far cry from anywhere you’ve probably drunk before, this is a truly unique bar devoted to the three-fingered sport in all it’s pin-smashing glory. Throw in a craft beer or a twist on a classic cocktail and you’ve got a sure-fire “Strrrrrrike!”.
The Liars Club
19A Back Bridge Street, Manchester, M3 2PB
The Liars Club is innovative, stylish and packed with the tastes of the Pacific. Which means cocktails served in pineapples and coconut shells as well as the occasional Tiki volcano exploding with alcohol. Get down to the sounds of island beats and order a Suffering Bastard, you deserve it.
1 Call Lane, Leeds, LS1 7DH
The Maven’s prohibition themed surroundings are contrasted by some of the most modern and creative man-cocktails in Leeds. Watch in awe as the expert barmen go all ‘Tom Cruise in Cocktail‘ and pour drinks worthy of adding to your boozy bucket lists. Or if you’ve got a favourite that isn’t on the menu they’ll go the extra measure and make it for you. Natch.
Leopold Square, Sheffield, S1 2JG
Bamboo Door bring the exotic flavours and exceptionally strong alcohol content of the South Pacific to the steel city, with flaming torches, funky Hawaiian huts and a drinks list loaded with beers, wines, spirits and crazy cocktails like the Aloha Can You Go Ha, So Right It’s Saff-Rong and the Vote Pedro including a whole egg. Mad but true.
The Dog and Parrot
42 Clayton Street West, Newcastle, NE1 4EX
Ole fashioned rock ‘n’ roll is alive and kicking in The Dog and Parrot, an independent music bar delivering wall-shaking sound to Newcastle city centre every weekend. Music icons in portrait form watch with pride from above while you bang heads, drink beer and play pool to a soundtrack of some of the best up-and-coming bands in toon. For those about to rock…
80-90 St. James’ Boulevard, Newcastle, NE1 4BN
Bowling. Pool. Ping pong. Karaoke. Mini golf. BEER PONG. Have we died and gone to our boozy heaven? Lane7 is the total package with hours of entertainment and laughs to be enjoyed as well as an exhaustive list of handpicked beers for you to satisfy your thirst. It’s almost enough to make you not care about winning. Almost.
5 Toft Green, York, YO1 6JT
As with cars, football, food, beer and pretty much everything else, the Germans do bars better than most and York’s Stein Bierkeller is the perfect place to find out why. Set out like a traditional ‘bier halle’, the walls are lined with kegs and the beer served in huge steins. That’s before dancing on the Bavarian oak benches to the sounds of traditional German bands. Prost!
Whistle Stop Barber Shop
66-67 South Bridge, Edinburgh, EH1 1LS
Gather your quartet and head to the Whistle Stop Barber Shop. This place deals in much more than just great cuts (although they do have plenty of those if you’re around for one of their pop-up sessions), while the vintage decor celebrates the best of Americana. You can also take on an epic range of burgers, dogs and cocktails. Never has ‘just a little off the top’ sounded so tempting.
Boteco do Brasil
47 Lothian Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1EB
Viva la Boteco! Get a slice of the carnival atmosphere in Boteco do Brasil with huge Brazilian food, dangerously tasty man-cocktails and scantily clad dancers. It’s like stepping off the streets of Edinburgh into the heart of Rio de Jenairo with vibrant live music and a lively crowd that keeps samba-ing until the wee hours.
162 Bath St, Glasgow, G2 4TB
A bar and club in the style of a furnished seventies flat. Yep, Flat 0/1 is just that damn cool. Local DJs spin the decks while you’re encouraged to jump up, jump up and get down while staying hydrated with a huge range of independent beers and spirits from ‘The Booze Cupboard’. It’s lewd, crude and unlike anywhere you’ve house partied before.
103 Commercial Road, Bournemouth, BH2 5RT
When a bar has what is practically an entire room made of Jack Daniel’s bottles, you’ve got to sit up, take notice and grab a selfie while you’re still sober. Bournemouth’s Smokin’ Aces has an infectious wall-to-wall rock ‘n’ roll spirit with tattoo inspired artwork, a heavy alternative soundtrack and uber-talented bartenders creating the kind of drinks that’d put Keith Richards in his happy place.