In a city celebrated for its nightlife, a trip to at least one cocktail bar is a must, no matter how brief your stay. But with so many to choose from, you might not know where to begin, particularly if you’re short on time. So we’ve compiled a list of some of our favourites, to give you a head start on finding the nightspots you’ll love most. Fascinating history, unparalleled views, expert mixologists, buzzing atmosphere and creative libations are what make this selection of Belfast bars so exciting.
Observatory – Grand Central Hotel
In addition to classics like the Old Fashioned and Negroni, the Observatory offers unique serves named after local landmarks, such as the University Quarter, Linenopolis, St George’s Market, City Hall, Napoleon’s Nose, Botanical Garden, Titanic Quarter and a non-alcoholic St Anne’s (many of which can be seen from the bar’s floor to ceiling windows). However, the defining feature of this memorable venue – as its name would suggest – is undoubtedly the spectacular views; Observatory is the highest bar in Ireland. In addition to libations, there’s a menu of sharing boards and an exclusive Jawbox G&Tea afternoon tea.
The Cocktail Bar – The Merchant Hotel
Antique Baccarat chandeliers adorn the ceiling of this refined, period building. The decor is dark and ornate, replete with oil paintings, leather banquette seating, a long Persian rug and a large fireplace with a heavy wooden surround. Here the cocktails are designed to ‘tickle the taste buds and sate the senses’. Where possible, ingredients are house-made and responsibly sourced, with the menu presented in the form of a book, by volumes and chapters. As such there are very many beverage options, beautifully presented alongside stories of the mixologists of yore, accompanied by vintage illustrations. Whisky and port tasting flights are available too, with the option of cheese and charcuterie pairings, as well as a menu of light meals.
The Harland Bar – Titanic Hotel
For some Edwardian era/ maritime nostalgia, visit the Titanic Hotel’s Harland Bar. Playing on this theme, one of the signature cocktails is named after the disaster’s last survivor – Ms Millvina Dean. However, you’ll find all your traditional favourite cocktails alongside the bespoke in-house creations. The bar’s design is distinctly Art Deco, with Art Nouveau travel posters depicting the Golden Age of Travel. A huge white star makes up part of the floor tiling, cleverly calling back to the ill-fated vessel’s British shipping company owners. The watering hole opened its doors at the very end of 2017, providing patrons with views of the historic Titanic Quarter.
On a fine day, Babel’s roof terrace and garden is the place to be. Relaxed and trendy, the bar has warm blankets and twinkling fairy lights through the winter months, with BBQs and DJs in the summer. Drinks are served to a soundtrack of cool hip-hop beats, surrounded by living walls and over 300 plants – many of its shrub-themed libations make use of the in-house herbs and greenery as garnish. Homemade sourdough pizzas are also served during peak season, while Tipsy Teas (sandwiches, sweet treats and gin or champagne cocktails) are offered at weekends. Babel is open Thursdays through to Sundays, till late.
A sliding door lift from the entrance of 42 Franklin Street, whisks you to the fifth floor of the Linenhouse Building and Belfast’s first rooftop bar. The Perch has a birdcage theme and opens seven days a week till the early hours. Signature pizzas are served, along with classic and seasonal cocktails, sangria, a range of spirits, wines and beers. DJs play on Friday and Saturday nights, plus the bar has a programme of events, such as paint and prosecco and summer picnics. Found in the historic Linen Quarter, this bar won the ‘Best Outdoor Space’ category at the LCN Awards.