16 Bars to Slurp at for Nottingham Loves Cocktails Festival

14 April 17 words: Bridie Squires

This April, Nottingham’s bars are being taken over for a festival to end all festivals – Nottingham Loves Cocktails. If you’re a mixology enthusiast, or simply love the taste of a good booze, then step this way. Each venue has been discerningly paired with a particular brand of liquor, with loads of masterclasses, talks, taster sessions and competitions to get yer cockles warmed right up. Just make sure you bag yourself a wristband before the adventure begins on Monday 24 April...

Venture down Hurts Yard, and you’ll find yourself deep in the burrow, ready to sample a few tasty beverages from 400 Rabbits. Small, succinct, and sexy, the place has got a dark and hypnotic vibe that’ll have you imagining yourself in that there Lewis Carroll novel. Even more so when you’ve knocked back a few of their 1800 Tequilas – their poison of choice for the week.

What's On?

Rampant Rabbits Industry Day
A day for the bartenders – expect a cocktail competition and masterclass, DJs, games, the lot.
Wednesday 26 April, 6pm – 3am

Rampant Rabbits Masterclass
Oli from Proximo returns for an intense masterclass – learn a thing or two about proper tequila, and have a cracking time while you’re at it. 1800, Maestro Dobel and Jose Cuervo are all stars of the show for the evening.
Friday 28 April, 6pm – 8pm

Everyone loves a bit of Boilermaker action. You know the drill – the faceless gaff looks a little barren on the outside, with people queuing in the shopfront window making passers-by wonder what the hell’s going on. Push the secret door open, though, and drinkers are taken to a beautiful, dimly-lit bar that goes back further than you could have imagined. For Nottingham Loves Cocktails festival, they’ve teamed up with the fabulous Hendrick’s Gin. Good measure.

What's On?

Tipples & Tinctures from the Annals of Time
Mixology is an (almost) ancient craft. Explore the history of gin with Hendrick’s Gin UK ambassador Ally Martin, who’ll take you on a journey through the ages, with a massive nod to the classic cocktails that’ve stood the test of time.
Thursday 27 April, 7pm – 8.30pm

Smart and sleek, Brass Monkey are a no-frills bar that choose to focus on the depth of their beverage menu above anything else. Seriously innovative, having been known to whack a bit of balsamic vinegar into the mix among other obscure ingredients, they’re a welcome secret around these parts. Brass Monkey have tucked Appleton Reserve, as well as Wray and Nephew rum, under their belts in celebration of all things liquor.

What's On?

Opening and Closing Parties
Join the crew in kicking off the festivities with a late-night party, and when the dust and stomachs are settled, you can say goodbye to the week of shenanigans with beer pong, musical goodness, pizza, and the taste-laden liquids that have championed the week
Opening party: Monday 24 April, 8pm – 4pm
Closing party: Sunday 30 April, 7pm – 3pm

Nottingham Hill Carnival
We’re in for a right treat with this one. The two boozes will be out in full force, alongside the chance to get your face painted, and they’ll even have a barbecue on the go. Absolute winner.
Friday 28 April, 5pm – 11pm

Unbeknownst to many, Stoney Street's Bunk is hiding away under the radar but packs a bloody good (alcoholic) punch to anyone who enters. Think fairy-light décor, think a lovely red glow and awesome tunes, and you’re on the right lines. And, of course, their chicken wing game is strong like a bull. Speaking of which, they've been paired up with the legendary Rumbullion for Nottingham Loves Cocktails Festival.

What's On?

Cocktails, Wings and Caribbean Vibes
All the reggae you could want for of an evening, with the kicker of games with prizes, plus all the regular joy of wings and cocktails, with a sprinkling of Nottingham Loves Cocktails twist.
Saturday 29 April, 3pm – 12am

A venue stashed on King Street, The Bunker is ready and waiting for you to explore. Don’t be shy, get among the neon lights and try one of the best cocktails in the city. The boggers have teamed up with the bob-on Kraken Spiced Rum, all in the name of taste sensations. We’re proper looking forward to finding out what concoctions they’ve got hiding up their sleeves.

What's On?

Cool Rummings: Rum & Reggae
Listen to all your favourite classic reggae tunes while sipping Kraken’s finest, all mixed up and poured in the most delightful way. We don’t like the sound of this, we bleddy love it.
Tuesday 25 April, 7pm – 1am

Jump Ship Pirate Party
Presented by Kraken and The Bunker, there’ll be the best in pop punk blaring out of the speakers, all topped off with a fancy-dress competition, the Kraken treasure hunt, and even a sandcastle competition. Fun in the sun, indeed.
Wednesday 26 April, 11pm – 3am

Ooft, the weird and the wonderful is out in full force at Curious Manor. You won’t know where to look, with all the trinkets you could want for dotted around the gaff. And all the consumables follow suit in a big way. Don’t be shy – the creative clan have teamed up with Reyka Vodka for the festival, so we can only guess what they’ve got up their sleeve for the week.

What's On?

Resourceful Revelry
Learn how the Iceland massive do their thing with Fabiano Latham – the UK Reyka Vodka Brand Ambassador, who’ll teach every attendee a thing or two about doing the drink justice.
Friday 28 April, 6pm – 8pm

Oysters and coffee – you mad? The Curious Tavern are trying summat a little bit different around these parts, mixing up their menu in the most daring way for us Nottingham heads. Glenfiddich are the brand they’ve bagged for the ‘Cocktails festival, and we can’t wait to see what they do with the scotch beaut.

What's On?

Glenfiddich Deconstructed
This one’s only for a maximum of twelve people, so if you want to bag yersen a place, you better move fast and get emailing info@thecurioustavern.co.uk. Punters will get to recreate the Glenfiddich fifteen-year-old Solera – summat you can only ordinarily do on tour in the whisky’s Dufftown distillery. Not too shabby.
Tuesday 25 April, 7pm – 9pm

This lot are seriously creative when it comes to cocktails. Whether The Curious Townhouse are stuffing beverages with dry ice to create magic-potion effects, or tricking you into thinking you’re actually eating a cake, you won’t be disappointed. Plus, they’re one of the few venues left in the city to have a pool table, darts board, and they’ve even got Hopkinson Vintage Antiques & Arts Centre trinkets in glass cases upstairs, all available to buy.

What's On?

Brockmans’ Botanical Breakdown
If you’ve been to any of the curious venues, you’ll know that there’s berries aplenty dotted around their dishes and drinks. Here, you can learn about Brockmans’ use of botanicals, and how their blackberry and blueberry usage elevates the gin to top-tier level.
Wednesday 26 April, 7pm – 9pm

Funky picturehouse? Check. Tasty pizza? Check. Southern Comfort cocktails in their masses? Ch-ch-check. We love a bit of Das Kino action – if you’re not getting stuck in to a game of table tennis, you’re having a natter in a beautifully rough-around-the edges gaff, or getting snapped in their photo booth. For the festival, they’re wrapping their loving arms around several bottles of SoCo, and ‘aving it out.

What's On?

Southern Comfort Tasting
Teach your tastebuds a thing or two about the cocktail scene in New Orleans, with a masterclass open to bar industry heads and normies alike
Thursday 27 April, 2.30pm – 4.30pm, then again at 6pm – 7.30pm

Jazz Band and DJs
If it’s all been a bit too much fun for you over the duration of the week, sit back and relax to live jazz music, all harking back to that deep south realness. Don’t forget to put the cherry on the cake with a final SoCo cocktail.
Sunday 30 April, 2pm – 3pm

Carve yourself out a slice of class at Lace Market Hotel, where you can find some of the most professional waiting staff this side of the city. The sophisticated and elegant venue have taken on Courvoisier as their partner in crime, and they’re set to serve the cognac up in a most superior manor.

What's On?

The Toast of Paris
Masterclass and tasting session, anyone? Michael Green will be on hand to take us on a journey through the French heritage roots of Courvoisier, which dates all the way back to the Paris Golden Age and the Eiffel Tower’s opening, all the way back in 1889. Michael is Brand Ambassador for Maxxium Mixxit – the company with Courvoisier under its belt.
Monday 24 April, 5pm – 7pm

Aside from having a banging pub quiz and comfy atmosphere, The Orange Tree are actually properly skill when it comes to knocking out the owd cocktails. Plus, they’ve got a really decent collection of beers on tap. If the sun’s out, make sure you take a seat in their outdoor smoking area, it’s a bleddy treat.

What's On?

Ramos Gin Fizz
Find out the history of Portobello Road 171 Gin from the UK Brand Ambassadors Paul Gillan, as well as Mangrove’s Sean McCarthy. There’ll be a quiz afterwards to test your knowledge, so keep yer ears pricked up.
Monday 24 April, 5pm – 7pm

3 Martini Lunch
Like a three-course meal, but with booze. Can’t go wrong really. Portobello Road will talk the history of the Martini, all while offering up samples of different styles. Tasteh.
Thursday 27 April, 3pm – 5pm

Gin and Swing
Silent movies, live swing music, and all the gin cocktails you can shake a stick at. Yes please.
Friday 28 April, 7pm – 11pm

Snapper Saturday
Portobello Road have got a Red Snapper market stand – think spice, think juice, think condiments. A hangover cure if we ever did smell one.
Saturday 29 April, 12pm – 3pm

Another venue that’s stashed away, not for the naked eye to see. You have to be looking out for Pepper Rocks, but once you’re inside, you’re wowed by all the plant vines snaking their way around the beams and pillars. A proper little hideout spot, seriously chill, and definitely worth a visit for the festival – The Duppy Share Rum will be out in full force.

What's On?

Duppy Share Punch Party
Hailing from the Caribbean, The Duppy Share Rum is a blend of two golden rums – one from Jamaica, one from Barbados. Enjoy the bogger in all its punchy glory, in the lovely outdoor bar of Pepper Rocks. Keep yer eye out for Duppy Share merch and vouchers, too.
Saturday 29 April, 3pm – 12pm

If you like your meat barbecued and in epic-sized portions, you’ve come to the right place. Plus, these lot have got it down when it comes to the beverages. It only makes sense that they’d have bottles of Jack Daniel’s in hand for the festival, kicking out umpteen twists on the drink beyond the swinging doors, with a good owd ‘Yee ha!’ for good measure.

What's On?

Nottingham Bartender of the Year Competition
Watch your favourite mixologists battle it out for the glorious title of Bartender of the Year, all sponsored by Marussia Beverages. There’s cash prizes, booze, equipment and a trophy to be won. But we all know it’s the glory that counts.
Tuesday 25 April, 12am – 4pm

Drink and Food Pairing
Jack Daniel’s Ambassador Dave West is bringing bottles of the good stuff, in all its varieties, to offer up alongside specially-made dishes by Red Dog’s Head Chef Mansu Kumar. Alrighty then, let’s go.
Tuesday 25 April, 4.30pm – 6.30pm

The food game is strong at Rub. All the delicious meat-based goods you could ask for, with a focus on pure glutton. Their cocktail game is second-to-none too, and for the Nottingham Loves Cocktail festival, they’ve only gone and paired themsens up with Licor 43 – for epic gains!

What's On?

Most Passionate Bartender
We’ve got another competition on our hands, but this time the prize is a trip to Barcelona. Ooft. Watch the boggers battle it out in Licor 43’s Midlands heat.
Monday 24 April, 12pm – 4pm

Orchata Launch
A cocktail masterclass with Licor 43’s new baby, plus the chance to sample the good stuff alongside some Spanish-American hybrid tapas. Don’t mind if we do.
Thursday 27 April, 6.30pm – 8.30pm

Weekend Brunch
Buy yersen brunch, get a free cocktail. No brainer.
Saturday 29 April, 10.30am – 12.30pm

Renowned around these parts for their awesome tapas deals and sophisticated-yet-piratey interior, everyone loves a bit of The Rum House. Of course, they’ve been paired up with a rum brand – the old classic, Wood’s Navy Rum. Take a perch in their smart bar and have a good old gander at their drinks menu, as there’ll be plenty of surprises about for the ‘Cocktails festival.

What's On?

Tales of Sea
Wood’s Navy Rum present a load of fables about wooden ships and iron blokes, harking back to the time when the Wood’s recipe was made in 1887. Some serious storytelling afoot.
Wednesday 26 April, 8pm

Suede are perhaps the most fun bar in Nottingham – with their massive, old-school Gameboy fixed to the wall, their quiz, and the retro décor throughout the place, it’s like being taken back to your childhood. Albeit with a little more alcohol involved. Another rum pair-up, but this time it’s the dramatic Blackwells flying the flag.

What's On?

Side A
With a massive nod to Chris Blackwell of Island Records and Blackwell’s Rum, Suede are hosting a battle of the bands, which features local musicians – expect hip hop, folk, electronic synths, all that good stuff. There are prizes to be won, and even a pizza-eating competition at 4pm. Don’t miss out.
Sunday 30 April, 2pm – 9pm

Nottingham Loves Cocktails festival is running from Monday 24 – Sunday 30 April 2017. Get a wristband for entry to venues and events here.

Nottingham Loves Cocktails website

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