With the ideal combination of cobbles, rivers, and proximity to a racecourse, Chester really is the Windsor of the north. Today Chester is one of the UK’s most historic cities, filled with ruins and historic buildings. Once occupied by the Romans, their intention was to make Chester the UK’s capital city, but the Romans didn’t just bring straight roads to the northwest, they also brought wine. And boy am I grateful for that! With so many different bars to choose from, finding the perfect bevvy in this city is no easy feat. So we’ve done the hard work for you to pinpoint the 11 best bars in Chester for a great night out.
This article is written by Faraway Lucy writer, Tori Bottomley.
1. The Botanist
Address: 13 St Werburgh St, Chester CH1 2DY
Phone number: 01244 408100
The Botanist is one of my all-time favourite bars so of course, it has to be on this list of the best bars in Chester. Although it’s a chain, each bar feels unique and homey with its potting-shed decor. This particular venue is hidden in an alleyway at the top of St Werburgh Street, just next to the cathedral. From the outside, the bar looks tiny, but on opening the door, you’ll suddenly feel like you’re inside Mary Poppins’ handbag. (If it was filled with picture frames and agricultural knick-knacks, that is!) At the back lies a terrace with a secret entrance to a cobbled side street, where there are a couple of other bars to continue your evening.
The cocktails here are an absolute delight and many of them are floral or herb-infused, which I’m a huge fan of. Where The Botanist stands out though is the garnish. For instance, one of their cocktails is served in a terracotta plant pot with a pod of peas! And to make things even better, the bartenders here are always friendly and chatty, giving recommendations when you feel spoiled for choice. It’s one of the best bars in Chester for good reason.
Address: 10-12 Godstall Ln, Cheshire, Chester CH1 1LN
Phone number: 01244 401869
You’ll find Duttons nestled away on cobbled Godstall Lane, by The Botanist’s secret back entrance. Its dark green canopy, embossed with gold letters, reminds me of some classy Parisian restaurant. Inside, the aesthetic continues thanks to its tasteful decor and large palm plants. But if you choose to dine al fresco, the views of the cathedral make an excellent backdrop.
Open from breakfast through to dinner and beyond, Duttons serves a touch of class with its delicious drinks. If you’re out for a celebration, this place is one of the best bars in Chester for a party. Their beautiful garden room is available for hire and comes with full personal bar service, complimentary balloons and candles. Duttons may be one of Chester’s best-kept secrets, but it’s too good not to share!
Address: the exchange, 1 St John St, Chester CH1 1RE
Phone number: 01244 313165
A stone’s throw away from the Roman amphitheatre is the most Instagram-worthy bar in Chester. Co-owned by the landlord of Marlborough Arms, this unusual venue is an aesthetic feast both inside and out. Once you step through the tall glass doors, you’re greeted by a plethora of plants and lanterns hanging from the ceiling. The effect is strikingly modern and yet enchanting.
But there’s more than just food for the eyes inside Popcorn. Open from 10 am until late, their menu offers some unusual, but tasty, grub such as cheese and pickle fries or loaded soft pretzel. Although sitting under Popcorn’s wisteria-covered terrace on a sunny afternoon is incredibly pleasant, Popcorn really comes into its own at night. Served under a pink cherry blossom tree, the kooky cocktails are unlike anything else you might get in the city. One drink on their menu even comes with complimentary cat stickers!
If you fancy learning how to replicate these at home, Popcorn offers a cocktail masterclass to show you all their tricks which you can arrange by sending them a quick message via their website or Facebook page. As if this wasn’t enough, Popcorn regularly holds DJ nights and themed events too, including film showings and even a mechanical bull.
4. The Brewery Tap
Address: 52-54 Lower Bridge St, Chester CH1 1RU
Phone number: 01244 340999
I always make a point to take people to The Brewery Tap when they visit Chester. Once a medieval hall, this building is so old that no one actually knows when it was built. With high ceilings, tapestries and stone floors, the ambience here is terrific. You can even see a portion of the hall’s original wattle and the daub-esque wall on your way to the loo.
In a bar like this, the cask ale has to be on point, and it is. Having once housed King Charles I in 1645, you can almost taste the history as you sip on The Brewery Tap’s excellent selection of real ales, many of which are created by their own microbrewery. Combine that with a cracking pie and it’s easy to find yourself transported through the ages.
Address: 102 Northgate St, Chester CH1 2HT
Phone number: 01244 316805
PicNic is a charming splash of Mediterranean in the Chester bar scene. As well as stocking your favourite drinks, PicNic also serves Spanish beers and cocktails that you can’t get anywhere else.
But if you find yourself developing a rumbly belly, the food here truly is spectacular. When I first came to Picnic, I’d already had dinner and was just looking for a wine bar. However, when I saw the plates being placed on the tables on either side of us, I just couldn’t resist a sharing platter. And I can confirm that it was an excellent decision. Heaped with olives, cured meats and cheese, it was exactly what was needed to complement the excellent bottle of red on the table.
PicNic regularly have deals chalked up on their little blackboard outside, so you can feel classy without breaking the bank. These might be 2-4-1 or free wine with your deli board.
Address: 31 Watergate St, Chester CH1 2LE
Phone number: 01244 409385
Elle Woods once claimed, ‘Whoever said orange was the new pink was seriously disturbed.’ I stand by that and it appears the owners of Palm do too. Down the steps, beyond the flowery entrance, you’ll find this cellar bar has had one hell of a makeover. Floors, walls, ceilings, you name it, it’s all pink.
Palm is a prime spot for a champagne brunch before the Chester races. But they also offer afternoon tea and bottomless brunches throughout the rest of the year, making it an ideal venue for birthdays. Taking place on Sundays, their bottomless brunch deserves a special mention here. Featuring a surprising variety of food options, your waffles might come with berries and yoghurt, bacon and syrup or even an apple crumble topping! If you’re not too keen on prosecco though, you can swap it for Bellini’s, Cosmos, Aperol Spritz or their famous Doll Beauty Kiss cocktail. At £29.95 per person, this is an absolute steal.
But if you’re just popping in for a drink or two, Palm is just as accommodating. Their menu has over sixty drinks on it, so there will be something on the menu for even your fussiest friends. They also have a Doll Beauty vending machine – an absolute genius idea – in case you need to top up your glam look in between drinks.
The staff at Palm always go out of their way to be friendly and attentive, so you really feel like you are being looked after during your time here. Now offering cocktails and patisserie cakes to take away (mostly pink of course!), Palm is the perfect place to tipple yourself pink, whether it’s in their bar or at home.
Address: 75 Watergate St, Chester CH1 2LB
Phone number: 01244 327394
Barlounge has been serving the residents of Cheshire for twenty years and is still keeping things exciting. Whether you’re after a quiet beer or a night out with friends sipping cocktails, Barlounge is easily one of the best bars in Chester. With an impressive cocktail list that includes bespoke signature recipes from their expert bar team, and a wide selection of beers, spirits and champagnes, they have something to suit every member of your party.
2020 onwards has seen some serious creativity from Barlounge, coming up with new menus throughout. Their recent specialities include a limited edition boozy cruffin (a doughnut-croissant hybrid) covered in raspberries and powdered sugar, served with a jam doughnut flavoured shot.
This is a particularly lovely spot for a sunny afternoon. Its outdoor space feels classy and cosy, complete with ivy, wicker bar stools and patio heaters for those chillier evenings. But that’s not all, Barlounge are also the hosts of Chester’s annual Shakedown. Here the city’s bartenders compete against each other and you, the customer, get to be the judge!
8. The Marlborough Arms
Address: 26 Oxford St, Woodstock OX20 1TS
Phone number: 01993 811227
The Marlborough Arms might be an incredibly old building, but she still has a lot of love to give. Built in 1898, this cosy and inviting pub is one of my favourite spots in the city to relax with friends. Packed with an assortment of chesterfields, wooden benches and dripping wax candles, the place is always buzzing. Plus, the shelves are always filled with a huge variety of spirits, including a great selection of rum.
You may think I’ve made a typo in this section, but in fact, the venue’s unconventional spelling was the result of a tipsy sign maker many years ago and was kept as an amusing talking point. Like many venues in Chester, The Marlborough Arms is often a spot for live music and is open until late. I’ve always had a great time in here and it’s always full of people, so I’m clearly not its only fan.
9. Lono Cove
Address: 66 Watergate St, Chester CH1 2LA
Do you want a tropical cocktail inside a tiki head with a sparkler fizzing out the top? Of course, you do, and you’re not alone. Voted the number 1 bar in Chester, Lono Cove is Watergate Street’s very own Polynesian paradise.
Labelled by its staff as ‘an intimate getaway where you can indulge your senses – all of them’, I can’t say I disagree. With fantastic artwork covering the walls, chatty staff and tropical music coming through the speakers, it’s no wonder that Lono Cove is one of the best bars in Chester.
Eau de Vie is the most popular drink on the menu. But if you’re out for a celebration, you may be more interested in Lono Cove’s version of a fishbowl. Taking the shape of a treasure chest with wheels of orange and passion fruit floating on the surface, it’s pretty unique. I must warn you though, if you pop into Lono Cove for just one drink, you may well stay all night!
Address: 66 Watergate St, Chester CH1 2LA
Phone number: 07957 592594
The well-known Watergate St really is home to some of the best bars in Chester. However, Prohibition is impossible to find if you don’t know where to look, and that’s exactly the point. This independent bar is situated at the top of the steps next to Lono Cove and harks back to the age of the roaring 20s. With a secret door and menus tucked inside well-worn books, this is a prohibition bar done properly.
Stacked bookcases, gilded picture frames and crystal chandeliers help to set the scene in this quirky and unusual bar and occasionally a live piano player comes to tickle the ivories.
The best thing on the menu here is the Black Forest cocktail. This prohibition classic consists of french berry liqueurs, butterscotch schnapps, and chocolate powder. What’s even more exciting is that Prohibition can deliver bottled versions of their famous cocktails to your door, complete with a wax seal!
11. Liquor and Co.
Address: 31 Watergate St, Chester CH1 2LE
Phone number: 01244 319417
Housed on the first storey of Chester’s Historic Rows, Liquor and Co. is the kind of bar that you’d imagine the peaky blinders might visit. The uncontested winner of Barlounge’s Shakedown, voted for by the public, cocktails in Liquor and Co. are always delicious. Here you can get all the classics as well as a few twists on some of your favourites for less than £7.
If you don’t fancy being elbowed at the bar, rumour has it that in a secret location within the bar, the cabinet club caretaker will sort you out. Open until 3 am Thursday to Saturday, Liquor and Co. is an excellent place for a nightcap, away from the busier areas of town, before you jump in the cab home.
So there you have it: the 11 best bars in Chester. With such a variety to choose from, there’s a bar in Chester for every kind of personality. But which of these best bars in Chester is your favourite? Please let us know in the comments below!
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