5 of the best cocktail bars in Dorset
PUBLISHED: 11:36 28 November 2014 | UPDATED: 14:45 22 February 2018
Do you like your martini dirty, salty, twisted or filthy or would you prefer a Mince Pie daiquiri? Helen Stiles heads for the county's best cocktail bars to browse their menus
The Pig on the Beach, Studland
Situated in a Victorian coastal villa adjacent to one of Dorset’s most beautiful beaches, The Pig boasts views towards Old Harry Rocks. The bar, with wood burner, has the relaxed piggy vibe this boutique hotel chain is famous for. Bar Manager George Hamson has created an impressive cocktail list featuring locally sourced ingredients including the warming Spicy Islay - a whisky based cocktail featuring homemade orange marmalade, fresh lime juice and chillies grown in their green house. For something a little different try the Smoky Dirty Martini, garnished with a fish scratching, which uses Chase gin (smoked in The Pig’s own smoke house) and a dash of lobster oil or a Classic Margarita with a smoked salt rim.
Venner Bar, Bridport
A recent runner up in the Observer Food Monthly Readers’ Favourite Pub or Bar, you’ll find this gem hidden within The Bull Hotel in Bridport. This bijou bar, which seats just 25, punches well above its weight thanks to the talented bar manager Lloyd Brown and his team who focus on classic cocktails with a twist and homemade infusions tailored to the seasons. Grab a seat in one of their regal chairs and start sipping a Venner classic such as their Red Snapper, a twist on the Bloody Mary using horseradish infused Dorsey Dry Gin. Open Wednesday to Saturday from 5 til late it often hosts tasting sessions with famous bartenders and spirit makers (visit their facebook page to find out more facebook.com/vennerbar.bridport). If you want a seat it is well worth booking in advance.
The Captain’s Club Hotel, Christchurch
The Club Bar of this stylish Christchurch hotel is a treasure house of rare spirits - from high altitude rum to homemade concoctions like horse-radish infused vodka. The charismatic bar manager Salvatore Damiano and his team have created a cocktail menu that puts a spin on classic champagne cocktails, martinis, manhattans and mojitos. My favourite is the fruity martini Chase the Rhubarb with its delicate mix of Williams Chase gin, rhubarb liqueur and rhubarb bitters. As you sit and sip your cocktail of choice, soak up the views of the River Stour, or on summer evenings hang out with the ‘in crowd’ on the lovely riverside terrace.
Hix Oyster & Fish House, Lyme Regis
Mark Hix’s establishments are as famous for their amazing food as they are for their great cocktails. And rumour has it that their head bartender David Smith is one of the best mixologists in the county. Cocktails are refreshingly different with a funky local twist. Mark Hix was one of the first to snap up Black Cow Vodka, made just down the road at Seaborough from Dorset cow’s milk, so its no surprise to see four ‘Cow Martinis’ on the menu: Filthy Black Cow with pickled Guindilla peppers, Dirty Black Cow with green olives, Twisted Black Cow with a lemon twist and Salty Black Cow with sea purslane, there’s also a Black Cow Bloody Mary with Mark’s secret Bloody Mary mix. If you fancy some bubbles then go for the Hix Fix Morello cherry in Somerset eau de vie crowned with Nyetimber English sparkling wine. The venue also has the most sensational views of the Jurassic Coast.
Urban Beach Hotel & Urban Reef, Boscombe
Urban Beach, the award-winning boutique hotel in Boscombe, has an ever evolving cocktail menu using many locally produced ingredient such as Dorset blueberry juice. Alongside the usual suspects seek out seasonal specials such as their Minced Pie Daiquiri or the curious such as Lavender Smoke with bourbon, lavender and honey syrup and smoky Lapsang Souchong tea or the Garden Fairy martini with celery and grapefruit bitters. If you fancy sipping by the sea then head down to its sister establishment Urban Reef at The Overstrand next to Boscombe Beach. The cocktail menu here is just as impressive - try Uncle Wray’s Flaming Rage with flamed grapefruit bitters, a Mandarin Smash with muddled kumquats or Dave’s locally sourced Bloody Mary featuring Dorset wasabi infused Ketel One vodka, Isle of Wight tomato juice, Dorset Naga chilli jam and Dorsetshire sauce. A classic cocktail infused with Dorset magic!