FORGET lager, beer or wine – according to a website, the most popular drink to enjoy on a night out is a cocktail. Siobhan Ryan explores the top rated cocktail bars in Brighton and Hove.

From the traditional Margarita to rather more outlandish concoctions, cocktails are fast becoming the drink of choice for those planning to let their hair down.

Popular website Designmynight, which helps people find the best bars, clubs and events to choose from when coming to Brighton and Hove, has come up with a list of what it claims are the top five places in the city to go for a cocktail.

They include Twisted Lemon, in Middle Street, Brighton, which is described as a “little gem.”

Owner Todd Williams said: “The popularity of cocktails has surged over recent years due to the exciting new flavour innovations and techniques developed within the industry.

“I would say that the growing cocktail trend is universal as our customers come from a wide range of backgrounds, ages and genders.

“I think cocktails have become more popular locally because Brighton has such a fantastic choice of high quality places to eat and drink.

“This enables people to become more savvy and discerning about what they purchase, which drives retailers to offer higher quality products to continue to attract customers.

“With such a wide range of consumers I wouldn’t say that any particular types of cocktails are becoming more popular across the board, more that the places which are becoming popular in Brighton are those that use high quality ingredients and have passionate and enthusiastic knowledgeable staff. “ William Howell from the Black Dove in St James’ Street, which is also on the list, said: “There is a growing market for people with discerning tastes.

“Cocktails and craft ales especially are moving up people's ‘to-drink’ list. “Their taste is progressing toward the more flavoursome, more local, more interesting. It can be likened to the food revolution ten years ago.

“The usual provision down your local doesn’t just have to be bland lagers or mass produced spirits. “We pride ourselves at the Black Dove on providing interesting and delicious alcohols that don’t have the premium price tag.

“Putting the customer first in hospitality is commonplace but when you’re faced with lots of new spirits and concoctions I appreciate it can be a bit daunting. That’s why we’re always happy to find something to coax everyone through our doors.”

The Speakeasy at the top of the Wick Pub in Western Road was launched in May 2013 and has recently been taken over by manager Rhys Davies.

He said: “I think that drinkers are becoming more discerning.

“They are looking for cocktails made with quality products, that are well made and have a story behind them.

“In a city as progressive as Brighton, you can be experimental or use unusual ingredients.

“Customers enjoy experiencing new trends coming out of the bars in London. “For me, the most popular cocktail is the Old Fashioned traditionally made with bourbon or rye whiskey, lightly sweetened with sugar and aromatised with bitters.

“This most classic of vintage cocktails is served over ice in a heavy bottomed tumbler, named after the drink, and garnished with a generous orange zest.

“Other popular drinks include the ever present Mojito and Cosmopolitan. However there has been an increase in demand for gin cocktails such as the Gin Fizz.”

General manager of Bohemia in Meeting House Lane, Christian Glover, said the venue aimed at the 25 and over market has bought a new experience in cocktail production to Brighton. He said: “From their design to the unique ways in which they are served, our molecular cocktails are artistic and beautiful with tastes that tantalise and possibly confuse your taste buds.

“Brighton has some of the best cocktail bars in the country and Bohemia strives along with others to forever push boundaries of what is possible.

“We pride ourself on our molecular and show stopping cocktails and these are by far the most popular on the menu at Bohemia.”

The Argus:

Twisted Lemon, Middle Street (pictured above).

Designmynight: “ Twisted Lemon is an intimate cocktail bar nestled in between two buildings on Middle Street and caters for up to 50 people, making it a hot spot for catch-ups.

Between mouth-watering cocktails, like the Banoffee Pie Martini and talented staff, this little gem shines bright like a diamond and ushers in an energetic, social crowd. They also run special offers from 12pm – 9pm Sunday to Friday to keep your pockets (relatively) full.”

The Argus:

The Black Dove, St James’ Street (pictured above).

Designmynight: “The Black Dove winds back the clock to the Victorian period and plays tribute to the era with quirky decor that spans from rouge arm chairs and rusty chandeliers to old carpets.

They are famous for serving up the cocktail Sazerac, an alcohol heavy bevvie. They also serve locally brewed ales and international craft beers. Undoubtedly, this place is an eccentric boozer that must be added to your Brighton bucket list.”

The Argus:

Speakeasy at the Wick, Western Road (pictured above).

Designmynight: “Speakeasy at the Wick harbours all the boldness, charm and hush hush of the prohibition era.

“It is secretly located on the second floor of one of Hove’s traditional pubs and boasts candlelit tables, rich mahogany booths and vintage embellishments that can be seen the minute you reach the top of the stairs.

“They serve up top notch tipples like Side Car and Apple Crumble. These delicious cocktails start at £6.95.”

The Argus:

Lola-Lo, East Street (pictured above).

Designmynight: “Lola-Lo is a fun loving tiki bar in pursuit of making every night a memorable one. Catering for everyone from group parties to students, it is a fun destination any night of the week.

“Their eclectic cocktail menu is eye catching and they serve their creations in weird and wonderful tiki mugs and larger cocktails in treasure chests.

“A huge dance floor is also on standby at the venue to relieve any disco fever.”

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