5 Top Boozers on Bristol Harbour

From the sheltered waters of the Cumberland Basin to the cobbled corners of the Arnolfini, thirsty drinkers in need of liquid sustenance have a superb selection of pubs to choose from in Bristol Harbour.

In the 3 weeks since S and I set up home on Spike Island, I’ve darkened the doorways of a fair few of them. I’ve wet my whistle with fine ales from nationally known breweries like Butcome and local ones like Wiper and True, and tickled my taste buds with dry ciders from the orchards of Somerset. Here, dear reader, are my findings.

I’ve called this blog 5 Top Boozers on Bristol Harbour — not Top 5 Boozers on Bristol Harbour — because the list is so open to personal taste. (Jus’ sayin’.)

Pump House

The Pump House takes pride of place at the head of the Cumberland Basin, with fine views over the bridges and waterways. The sun-trap terrace out front attracts thirsty drinkers on warm days and the a la carte menu is full of seasonal produce from the local area.

The pub’s main draw though, to my mind, is the spectacular gin selection. If you appreciate your botanicals and you’re looking for somewhere to sample a broad range under one roof, take yourself off to the Pump House and dive in.

The Orchard

The Orchard is tucked away on a quiet street between Spike Island Studios and Bristol Marina — a hidden gem popular among cider drinkers with a taste for the good stuff. It’s one of the closest pubs to my gaff, and I couldn’t be happier with it!

First impressions from the outside are misleading — it looks like it could use a little TLC — but the feel on stepping inside is warm and welcoming. Bar staff are friendly and knowledgeable, you can pick up a pasty or a home-made sandwich to line your guts for the cider and they have live music in there every week. What more do you want?!

orchImage courtesy of The Orchard

There’s a strong selection of barrelled ales behind the bar featuring breweries from Cornwall to London — and they’re on regular rotation, too — but it’s the cider that people seem to love The Orchard for.

The Mardyke

I took a punt on The Mardyke on a stroll home last week and was very pleasantly surprised. It sits on the busy Hotwell Road but inside it was peaceful enough. Snooker and footy were beaming in from the two telly screens but that didn’t bother me — I was far too busy admiring the vintage metal placards adorning the walls.

There was a small but decent selection of ales on the bar and plenty of ciders on offer too, and the pint I had hit the spot perfectly. When a round of 2 drinks came to only £4 I had to ask the barman if there’d been a mistake… There hadn’t. It’s an atmospheric pub offering great value for money, with plenty of nooks and crannies for secretive supping.

The Cottage

Next time you’re strolling out toward the SS Great Britain’s mooring spot, head past the famous ship and keep walking. The Cottage is nestled on the edge of the harbour, with a terrace out front and panoramic views all the way from Underfell Boatyard over the colourful house-fronts of Hotwells.

cottImage courtesy of The Cottage

The interior is fitted out like a traditional British pub should be and the service is very friendly. Even more importantly than that, it’s a Butcombe pub so you can be sure of a good pint.

The Grain Barge

One of the best things about a harbourside city is surely the floating pubs, and the Grain Barge is a fine example. It hugs the Hotwells harbourside — a perfect spot for watching the tall ships and river cruisers drift by.

The barge began life ferrying barley, wheat and other grains across the Severn Estuary to Cardiff. Following a complete repurposing, it now offers a broad menu with specials updated daily and a strong selection of Bristol Beer Factory’s diverse brews.

Heads up… Wednesdays in the Grain Barge is Pie & Pint night — with a free pint of BBF ale when you order a pie — and if you visit on a Thursday they run an offer on steaks for a tenner!

If there are any other decent pubs around Bristol you’d recommend, please comment below or tweet @cjcallaghan. Am I missing any I really should know about?!

Further reading:

Pump House: http://the-pumphouse.com/

The Cottage: http://www.cottage.butcombe.com/

The Mardyke: http://www.mardykegroup.co.uk/

The Orchard: http://theorchardinn.co.uk/

The Grain Barge: http://www.grainbarge.co.uk/