Travel back a couple of decades and the closest you’d get to a cocktail would be a splash of rum and coke served in a half-pint glass. Nowadays, it’s hard to imagine a night of bar-hopping without the incredible creativity of the city’s cocktail menus catching your attention.
York has truly embraced the cocktail revolution, and it’s no surprise that venues have popped up across the city, led by a cohort of truly talented bartenders and mixologists. To help you explore the hottest cocktail spots in town, we’ve taken on the difficult task of seeking out those must-visit bars and venues on your behalf – it’s a hard life, we know. So next time you’re after a little ‘light’ refreshment, you can’t go wrong with any of the places on this list…
Sometimes the best things are found underground, and Sotano’s basement bar is no exception. Neatly tucked away on Little Stonegate, this authentic tapas bar and eatery is quite literally a hidden gem. With the team slinging out a classy but creative cocktail list, you’re more than likely to find a new favourite tipple on the menu here, just don’t be afraid to take a punt on some of the more obscure spirits on the list – you’ll find they’re much easier to drink than they are to pronounce. Take the ‘Dirty Negroni’ for example, offering a darker, more sophisticated twist on the Italian classic, with Nginious Smoked & Salted gin, Italicus Bergamot Liqueur, Suze, and Yuzu Bitters all making an appearance.
If you’ve never found yourself wandering through a forest at the end of a great night, then you’ve probably never been to Forage. Shaking up a bit of woodland magic in the city centre, this classy spot is the perfect place to get lost for a few hours. The cocktail list here changes from season to season, and right now you could say that the menu is ‘rubbish’ – but that wouldn’t be an insult. The latest creations on offer all make use of food wastage, taking leftovers from the kitchen and transforming them into something deliciously eco-friendly.
Operating as a chilled cafe? bar by day, this place really lives up to its name once the sun sets. A self-described ‘den of iniquity’, Dusk’s evening offering is full to the brim with big tunes and an even bigger cocktail menu. While you’ve probably never had to decide between Barack Obama and Britney Spears before, the menu here will have you thinking through all of life’s big dilemmas, such as whether you can squeeze in just another drink or three…
The historic Grand Hotel boasts numerous spots to settle down with a drink, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a classier cocktail spot in the city. Decked out with plenty of mid-century charm, the stylish restaurants and bars of The Grand offer the perfect occasion to throw on your finest and hit the town. Their
cocktail list features a wide range of delicious drinks, but none more special than their signature The Grand Spagliatio – Italian for ‘mistake’, this drink is
nothing but one, with notes of grapefruit and herb, this sparkling cocktail is a true taste of the Mediterranean.
Sitting in the shadow of the Minster, 1331 Bar is located right in the heart of the city centre, offering its guests the opportunity to eat, meet, stay and play – but we’re here to talk about the incredible drinks they’re serving up. There’s clearly no such thing as too much choice at 1331, and the impressive cocktail list could have you pondering your decision for days if they didn’t all sound so delicious – and with a solid 2-4-1 deal up for grabs all day and all night, you can enjoy all your favourites without having to toss a coin.
With coffee, cake, and plenty of cocktails, SOPHiE is becoming a favourite for many people across the city. Sitting on top of Lendal Bridge, it’s the perfect spot to drink in the views while sipping away at something refreshing. Head down for a Twisted French Martini in the riverside sun, or embrace your decadent side with the indulgent Chocolate & Orange Espresso Martini – just don’t plan anything for afterwards!
Everything’s pretty chill at Fancy Hanks – it’s probably something to do with the deep south spirit that runs through everything they do. Serving up Americana charm and heaps of soul to the people of York, Fancy Hanks doesn’t miss a beat when it comes to mixing up a drink or two. They really know their stuff here, and the cocktail list twists and turns its way across the map to bring you drinks from across the eleven southern states, such as the sweet and smokey ‘Pit Boss’ from Texas or the fiery Floridian ‘Bring the Heat’.
Shaking up cocktails so good that they’ll have you losing all sense of direction, North South have firmly placed themselves on the York map over the last few years. Bringing their independent spirit to everything they do, it’s no surprise that they’ve put their own twist on some classic cocktails – try their Rhubarb & Plum Negroni to get a sense of the creativity on offer here. Sitting just next to the iconic Bootham Bar, this is definitely one to seek out next time you’re out on the town.
Fossgate Tap / Fossgate Social
Fossgate is quickly becoming a hotspot for city centre revellers, with two incredible venues right at its heart. The first of these is Fossgate Tap, a vibrant bar and eatery set amongst a historic building that’s retained many of its original features and fittings. Boasting their own bespoke cocktail list, there are plenty of unique creations to try, such as the refreshing Raspberry Ice Tea or the sophisticated Jazz Flute. Meanwhile, Fossgate Social offers up their own range of craft beers and cocktails just down the street – small but perfectly formed, their cosy bar is the perfect place to settle down with a drink in hand.
Sitting high above the city, on the seventh floor of the Malmaison hotel, Sora sky bar is enough to make you feel on top of the world. Delivering their own authentic Asian twist on some classic cocktails, Sora is making a real name for itself amongst York’s cocktail aficionado’s. Be sure to check out some of their signature drinks, including the mysterious Sesame Old Fashioned and the summery Peach & Lychee Spritz.
The Judge’s Lodging
While you might be familiar with The Judge’s Lodging for its boutique hotel rooms and events spaces, you might not know that they also offer up some delicious cocktail creations in their very own cellar bar. So hunker down for an evening by candlelight and let the drinks pour, with the wide range of sparkling and classic cocktails on offer you’ll be spoilt for choice, so maybe you should just opt for both…
Photos: Forage, Fossgate Tap, Sora, The Grand York