Drinking in Brighton
Boasting one of the highest pubs-and-bars-per-capita in the UK, the seaside town of Brighton has a well-deserved reputation for being the city by the sea to get sloshed in. And with so many bars and pubs there’s one for every occasion.
The traditional one. The Cricketers claims to be Brighton’s oldest bar. There has been a pub on this site since 1547, and certainly few bars can lay claim to the kind of historical pedigree that the Cricketers can. Its original landlord was burnt at the stake as a martyr, Jack the Ripper used to drink here and it was immortalized in Graham Greene’s famous novel, Brighton Rock. Nowadays, there’s a funky cocktail bar upstairs in the ‘Greene’ Room but you can still soak up the traditional flavor in the main bar area which has plush red velvet seating, copper and brass on the walls and some truly superb old-time Music Hall posters. Make mine a pint of local ale, Harveys.
The rainy day one. There is something wonderful about the seaside in winter in the rain. The day trippers have gone, the locals have their city back again and the waves crash on an empty beach. The very best place to be as the frozen rain pelts down is at the table in the upstairs of the Fortune of War, down on Brighton’s seafront, by the large window. You have a front seat to one of the best views in the city; the waves relentlessly pound the pebbles, the salt spray flies, seagulls wing and soar in the wind and there you are, warm as toast, watching it all with a stiff gin in your hand, the ice clinking in the glass and the lime all citrusy on your lips. In the summertime, the Fortune of War is also the best place to be, but this time outside, your drink, an iced cider in a plastic pint. Join the masses who gather and see where the party takes you.
The Secret One. In the heart of the city, next to the Theatre Royal and upstairs from a Mexican restaurant, Bar Valentino is famous amongst locals for its excellent cocktails and peerless view over the Pavilion. Its opening hours can be unpredictable but throughout the summer months aim for 5pm and you should be OK. It’s a small room with a dinky balcony that has a half dozen or so seats crammed out together. The people-watching opportunities are priceless and the view over the domes of the Pavilion as the sunsets are gorgeous. It gets very busy, so arrive early to stake out your bar-stool-with-a-view spot.
The Posh Hotel One. Spoiler: some of the best things in life are absolutely not free. And one of the best things to do in Brighton is kind of expensive. Suck it up. A glass of champagne on the palm terrace of the Brighton Grand overlooking the ruined beauty of the West Pier is wonderful. I’d advise that you do it with an afternoon tea. Forget the actual ‘tea’ part, just enjoy the perfectly triangular sandwiches, the delicate pastries and cream-stuffed cakes along with a glass or two of champagne. Very decadent and for special occasions only, but oh! Just wonderful.
The Late Night One. A favorite with bar staff who finish at 1am, the Three and Ten, tucked away in a quiet street off the seafront in Kemp Town, closes at 3am on Fridays and Saturdays. I have never been in there sober. I would be amazed if anyone has. Shots always seem to feature, bumping into people you’ve not seen for years usually happens and invitations to parties and after-hours bashes come your way too. Excellent music, patient staff and um, that’s really all I remember…
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