Looking for bars in Bristol? Read our review of Black Rock or check out our guide here.
Black Rock in a nutshell
The award-winning team behind London’s acclaimed specialist whisky bar Black Rock have opened a Bristol outpost serving high-grade drams and cocktails.
Where is it?
Marsh Street, just off main artery Baldwin Street.
What’s the vibe?
Smart and compact city-centre bar with a low-lit interior in charcoal shades including communal seating and artwork inspired by Japanese whisky culture.
What’s the drinks menu like at Black Rock?
There are six cabinets backlit in red and full of different whiskies split into fragrance, smoke, sweet, spice, balance and fruit-based profiles, plus six taps for draught lagers, IPAs, wheat ales and stout. Whisky varieties hail from around the world – the aim is to feature one from every whisky-producing country – but are helpfully arranged only by flavour. There’s also a short list of whisky-based cocktails. Learn more about whisky here.
Which cocktails to order?
If you’re an entry-level whisky drinker go for a simple, light and refreshing highball. Sweet toothed? Put your money on the Haig Club Clubman with coffee cream soda mixer. To tap into the fragrance section, try the robust 10-year-old Talisker with poky Chartreuse, Suze and lime acid.
Cocktails correspond with the cabinet collections – the choice ‘fruit’ concoction is The Singleton with apricot brandy and orange cordial; the ‘smoke’ comprising of peaty eight-year-old Lagavulin, cucumber Lillet and Maraschino. Another interesting sweet option stars Bulleit with biscuits, Curacao and soy milk wash.
Is there any food?
The ‘scran’ section includes some sumptuous bar snacks – Helford River oysters; fat, oozy scotch eggs with peated Hollandaise; haggis sausage roll and soda bread with seaweed butter.
While the London branch has an oak-tree table that matures the whisky stored inside while you sit around it, the Bristol bar has an oak-tree installation planted into the wall which is kept topped up with rotating whisky cocktails – Old Fashioneds on our visit.
Where to go nearby for dinner
There’s a cluster of cracking Italian restaurants – La Sorella, Marmo and Pasta Ripiena – just around the corner, or Pata Negra on Corn Street for Spanish tapas to die for. If you want to stick with the Japanese theme, take a 10-minute stroll to Wapping Wharf and dine at Pata’s sister venue Seven Lucky Gods (and order the chicken katsu arancini).
Price: A wee dram starts at £5; bottles are each labelled with one, two or three gems (£5, £7, £9 per 25ml measure) to signify where they sit on the price spectrum. An Old Fashioned from the whisky tree – Bulleit bourbon, sugar, bitters – will set you back £6.
Insider tip: Spot a single golden gem? You’ve got your eye on a high-end whisky – POA.
Words by Amanda Nicholls