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Olly Smith’s Top UK Cocktail Bars

Publisher - Great British Food Awards
published by

Great British Food

Nov 12, 2019
6 minutes to read
Image for blog - Olly Smith’s Top UK Cocktail Bars

Drinks expert and GBF Awards judge, Olly Smith shares his favourite gin palaces and gin-focused restaurants…


A veritable gin palace and home to the Bath Distillery, this small snug is based right in the heart of historic Bath. It’s jumping with juniper thanks to an immense range of gins - including their very own from Bath Gin Company. Gin cocktails from over 230 different spirits are served in vintage tea sets and each drink is carefully paired with the perfect mixer to complement the flavours – from a burning rosemary sprig to aromatic lime leaves. If you fancy extending beyond their gin and fancy a jive, there’s a martini bar upstairs complete with live music.


Aside from being the kindest and most good-natured chef in the business, Theo has launched a Negroni masterclass at his London restaurant. During the 90 minute course you get to nibble on courgette fritti, bruschetta Mozzarella, focaccia and Theo’s ravioli or risotto. The restaurant has four oak barrels in which they mature their unique Negroni, and you’ll be taught how to blend your own choice of gins, vermouths and bitters to create a bespoke cocktail (you get a copy of the recipe) which is also stored on their bar system to order on your next visit.


This tiny Mexican restaurant in the Lanes in Brighton serves great tacos and burritos, but go there for the best and naughtiest margaritas! Try the blood orange and chilli variety, with its arbol chilli rim. You’ll want to slurp on more than one and then you’ll likely be dancing on the teeny tables! There’s also a great range of mezcal and tequila to taste neat – from the blanco to reposado to anejo (aged) – that you can also sample in a flight. Expect informality, enjoyment and remember to order all the dishes!

Paul & Emma Ainsworth No.6 Padstow restaurant interiors food portraits for Caterer Magazine No.6


Upstairs from one of my favourite restaurants in Padstow, Cornwall where taste sensations abound, CiCi’s cocktail bar is named after Emma and Paul Ainsworth’s daughter. The elegant atmosphere is a haven for enjoying amazing cocktails. It’s worth noting that Cici’s is only for dining guests and I warmly recommend the whole experience as one of the finest in Britain. The Umeshu Sour is my pick – pink pepper gin and umeshu
sake combine to create a world of plum and cherry flavours, or for an alcohol free option the Kir Real is a clever twist on kombucha with blackberry. As part No.6’s extraordinary appeal, Cici’s is unmissable.

Olly’s latest book Fizz is available to buy now from Amazon (Ebury, £12.99)

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