Cosmopolitan? Yes. Funky? Yes. Atmospheric? Definitely.
Tucked under the Victorian Arches, on Brighton beach, the ‘Fortune of War’ bar is the place to go.
Hip at any time – but give it a whirl on the longest night of the year, the winter solstice, and you will not regret it.
Buy a good hot mulled wine or two to get into the festive spirit and then walk down to Madeira Drive to watch Brighton’s annual ‘Burning the Clocks’. Amazing and unique, paper and willow lanterns, in all shapes and sizes, are carried in a parade through the city, illuminating the spectators, and then burnt on the beach. Tradition has it that all the hopes and dreams of the lantern makers are passed into the fire.
Followed by a great firework display over the sea, the festive mood has been set, so back inside for another mulled wine or two. Happy Christmas!
157 Kings Road Arches
Brighton and Hove BN1 1NB
Google map: bit.ly/vEzlSw
Burning the Clocks
The Robin Hood is my favourite pub in Brighton. It's cosy, friendly and they've got a great wine list. The beers are always good too. They do basic food like pizzas, have a Wii, loads of boardgames and a free computer. It's always been one of my favourites, but I've just found out that they give all their proffits to charity. Sounds like a perfect excuse for another glass of wine! It is a bit out of the way, but well worth checking out.
1-3 Norfolk Place
Just off western road, near norfolk square
Shakespeare was to rhyming couplets what this place is to bangers and mash. Mix loads of different sausages (from a fine local butcher in Hove) with as many different types of mash. Good job the bangers and mash is so good because it's the only food they do (aside from a smashing Sunday roast.) Top staff and great music seal the deal. I live in Mexico City now and miss this place massively.
Seven Dials, Brighton
The very latest bar to open, formerly known as the Standard. The Bar is now under new ownership and has had a massive investment with full-on club downstairs, comfortable seating throughout, even in the garden, and best yet, you no longer have to trudge miles out to sea to exercise your vocals as Tuesdays are now karaoke night from 8pm to 11pm. Lovely place with a very tastefully themed decor.
This cocktail bar takes some hunting out (up some narrow stairs from an inconspicuous door on the street) but when you get up there it's a real find. Delicious cocktails served by really friendly, unpretentious staff. It gets quite busy at the weekends but there's usually more space (and often a DJ) in the two bars at the back - they're for members only but you can call in advance for free entry or sign up online for free membership. Try the Marylebone mojito - it's out of this world.
135 Western Road (beside Waitrose)
Tel: 01273 720059
Nearest station: Brighton
This is the kind of bar you find on holiday. It's friendly, plays great music, and is refreshingly un-designer-y. Hector the owner is a genuine Cuban and is always happy to have a chat. It's Hector, and the cool vibe, and the rum-based cocktails that really make it a great place to start or end an evening. The best mojito this side of Habana!
36 Preston Street, Brighton (between Western Road and the sea front)
A cool, relaxed vibe makes our local the best pub in Brighton - good food (yummy meatball sub!), good beer, friendly funny staff, and old school decor with a twist (check out the photo of cabaret girls next to the bar).
67a Upper Gloucester Road
Great pub, nice people, serving big, tasty food. Very informal - sometimes riotous - pub quiz every Thursday night from about nine.
Not been the same since the glory days, but still jolly good fun.
You could also try wandering on through Kemptown past the Hanbury Ballroom and St George's Church, turn right at the end and you're back on the seafront, with great views of the ocean. Or the naturist beach, if that's your bag.
92, St Georges Rd, Kemptown;
tel: 01273 682 259
This hotel does great food, fab wines (of course) and has a walk-in humidor. It is part of a chain, and a great chain too. Highly recommended, even if you just pop in to visit the bar. You won't be disappointed.
Pub in central Brighton with enough brass and red carpet to still be called a pub - and not a bar. It has a great barn-like seating area, lots of little sections, a function/cocktail room upstairs and a great - and good value - menu. It's fab.
15 Black Lion St, Brighton; tel: 01273 329472
A great pub with a fab patio, that gets very crowded with local people for a good reason. A cheeky (honestly, it is cheeky) menu offering home-cooked food in enormous portions, always with freshly baked bread on the side. I can't tell you how good it is, you just have to try it. It's a Brighton thing.
13 Middle Street, Brighton; tel: 01273710444;
pen: Mon-Sat 12pm-11pm, Sun 12pm-10.30pm
Best pub in Brighton. Perched on the end of the pier with portholes for windows, all manner of life is here: hardened drinkers and shell-suited daytrippers mingle with pale-ale drinking OAPs, fashion students and clubbers who haven't made it home yet. For sheer entertainment value (it's Brighton's only karaoke bar) it can't be beaten.
At the end of the Palace Pier.
It's a bar, restaurant and cocktail place. A bit of urban Catalan sophistication in Brighton. Friendly staff, funky dark interior and great little "pincho" snacks to go with the Cruzcampo beer. It's my new local (when I'm feeling continental). I've not eaten in the restaurant, but if the bar snacks are anything to go by it must be good.
Western Road, Brighton just across from Waitrose;
Want a pub filled with chilled out thirtysomethings, with trendy black-clad staff, where more time has been spent describing the food than preparing it and has a wide range of overpriced standard beer? Then don't go to the Iron Duke. Cheap beer, Racing Post-mad landlord, lock-ins, heavy drinkers, lasagne and chips, pool tables, fruit machines, a pint and a fight two pound fifty.
Not your standard Brighton pub.
Waterloo Street near the front
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