our top picks for alfresco post-lockdown drinks
The countdown is well and truly on for Monday, 12th April, when Brighton and Hove’s bars and restaurants with outdoor spaces can open up again and someone else can finally take care of the drinks. The garden furniture has had a spruce, umbrellas have been ordered (it is still spring in England after all) and we’re already dreaming of reuniting with friends over the first of many Aperol Spritzes… because, let’s be honest, our lockdown bartending efforts didn’t quite cut it.
But where to go first?! Whether you’re after a perfectly poured pint, an Espresso Martini with just the right amount of foam on top, or a crisp, chilled glass of wine – sat outside in a rain coat and wellies if needed – our cosmopolitan seaside city has it all. From rooftop terraces to tucked away gardens, here are our top picks of the places that are opening first and deserve a booking…
The Flint House
Hannington Lane’s coolest little cocktail bar and small plates restaurant, The Flint House, is top of the list for an open-air tipple – and for good reason. The bar team’s expertly made, Insta-worthy drinks are just what we’ve been craving this lockdown, especially the Gold, their twist on an Espresso Martini and the Primavera Negroni (think grapefruit and salted honey). And, as this is part of the Gingerman restaurant Group, it would be rude not to enjoy them with a dish or two. Those rich blue cheese crumpets are always a good choice! With a gorgeous, tucked-away sun terrace and additional seating out the front, it’s the perfect suntrap in this new(ish) lane, complete with umbrellas and an awning in case things do get a little wet.
The Flint House, 3 Hanningtons Lane, Brighton BN1 1GS
Monday – Sunday, midday – 10pm
Another must from us is the soon-to-reopen Rockwater Hove down on Western Esplanade. With its uber-chic décor and prime beachside locale, we couldn’t think of a more perfect place for a spring sundowner or boozy brunch. The main building had barely thrown open its doors before it had to close again, so you may not have had the chance to see its gorgeous interior beyond a peek through the windows. The igloos at the back are unfortunately gone, but with a separate sun deck on the beach and a rooftop terrace, there are plenty of options to sit back and enjoy a few rays of sunshine, a Brighton Cosmo (yes, it’s a thing) and listen to the waves crashing on the pebbles.
Rockwater, Western Esplanade, Kingsway, Hove, BN3 4FA
Monday – Sunday, 7am – 11pm
Every visit to this colourful spot promises to transport you to the sunnier climes of the Mediterranean with bright, fresh interiors and mouth-watering small plates. Set up by the boys behind Wolfsmouth and Paradiso Social, it’s had us impressed from day one and we can’t wait to make a return. Drinks-wise, the concise wine list is always a good option, but the cocktails are what really wow here and, last time we visited, a Strawberry Sbagliato blew our socks off. Obviously, the inside of the restaurant will be closed for the time being, but Med have managed to bring their Riviera-esque dash of colour outdoors – with orange umbrellas over white-cushioned kerb-side seating to brighten up spring evenings.
Med, 2-3 Little East Street, Brighton, BN1 1HT
Thursday – Sunday, midday – 6pm
Bison Beach Bar
Somewhere that has quickly become a Brighton institution, thanks largely to its unrivalled location overlooking the waves down on Madeira Drive, is Bison Beach Bar at Sea Lanes. The really fantastic thing about it is that the whole venue is already outside! They’ve got deckchairs down on the stones, covered benches, a rooftop section and, at one point, even a boat you could nab as a seat. And they’ve just installed a sexy new sun terrace! It’s self-service from the container bar, where they mainly pour their own hoppy creations alongside some laid-back beats and a few epic food collabs in the kitchen (Wood x Coal are currently serving up the tasty goods). Only the benches are bookable here, so it’s a great shout if you’re after an impromptu pint, but be prepared to hustle for those deckchairs!
Bison Beach Bar at Sea Lanes, 284 Madeira Drive, Brighton, BN2 1EN
Monday – Sunday, midday – 11pm
Brighton’s best (and only) dedicated natural wine bar obviously had to make the list. Here, you can easily while away the early-evening hours over a grape glass of red, white, pink or orange… accompanied by oysters or other tasty, slightly French seasonal morsels off the blackboard. Lucky for us, Plateau expanded their street seating last year and are reopening this first. You can normally find a table suitable for couples and small groups –perfect for enjoying a laid-back bottle of vino.
1 Bartholomews, Brighton, BN1 1HG
Opening times TBC
Boasting rolling brewery tap takeovers and a brilliant selection of cask ales, keg beers and ciders from plenty of local Sussex brewers and more from further afield – if you’re partial to a good brew, then the Brunswick is the pub for you! Their famous wooden terrace, which you can spot from Holland Road, is always popular in the summer months and now comes with a fully covered gazebo area, too, so you can seek shelter when needed.
1 Holland Road, Hove, BN3 1JF
Monday – Thursday, midday – 3pm and 5pm – midnight; Friday – Saturday, midday – 2am; Sunday, midday – midnight
Ah, Oeuf. This not-so-little Hove gem has had a special place in our heart since it first opened and we can’t wait to be supping their Insta-ready drinks in their secret garden at the back. There’s space for 30 people in the pretty green space and there’s also a terrace at the front for walk-ins or those just after a coffee. As you’d expect from somewhere that has perfectly nailed those Wes-Anderson-meets-Parisian-cafe vibes, their drinks look as good as they taste. From killer Chocolate Orange Espresso Martinis to Raspberry Ripple Lattes, they’ve got all the bases covered here. They also dish up some of the best breakfasts and brunches in town (those frumpets!) if you need some food to soak up the cocktails. As they quite rightly almost say: ‘One [visit to] Oeuf is never enoeuf’.
8 Third Avenue, Hove BN3 2PX
Monday – Sunday, 9am – 6pm (5pm on Sundays)
There’s always a fun time to be had at the Mash Tun and their outside benches are set to be as buzzy as usual when we’re allowed to socialise outside again. We can’t wait for their great beers, loaded burgers and hotdogs, music – and, of course, some prime people-watching – from their popular spot in the North Laine area. They’ve seriously invested in weatherproofing their outside seats, so you can continue to enjoy the pub’s usual antics, even when things get a little chilly.
1 Church Street, Brighton, BN1 1UE
Monday – Sunday, midday – 11pm
L’Atelier Du Vin @ Seven Dials
Hidden away in Seven Dials, L’Atelier Du Vin’s wine and cocktail bar here has a secret – and surprisingly big – garden out the back that’s always worth a visit in our opinion. It’s filled with greenery, umbrellas for when the grey clouds start rolling in, and the usual laid-back vibes we’ve come to love at their venues. It’s a garden that cries out for a cold glass of rosé or something from their menu of classic cocktails: perfect for enjoying with newly reacquainted friends.
87 – 93 Dyke Road, Brighton, BN1 3JE
Monday – Wednesday, 3pm – 11pm; Thursday – Sunday, midday – 11pm