Here are the Liverpool bars paying homage to bygone times
Maybe it’s the constant glare of blue light slowly disintegrating our retinas, or the onslaught of Insta-comparison making us abominate our own measly lives. Perhaps it’s the absolutely stinking pile of turd the modern politics system has become or how robots are predicted to make us all unemployed and professionally redundant in the not-so-distant future.
For whatever reason, more and more of us are now preferring to step back in time, to literally any other epoch than this one, when it comes to choosing where to spend our downtime. So much so, in fact, we’ve noticed that it has become a bit of a growing trend within the food and drink industry…
We challenge you to stray from the cocktail menu presented in old leather-bound books.
Granted, there are actually countless bars and pubs around the city which feel like a clunky old time machine once you step over the threshold. But that’s more by accident; trodden down carpets which were once that public house shade of burgundy and sticky, ale-scented beer mats which still bear the slogans of decades past, all hanging on by a thread - literally.
It’s all part of the charm though, right? If, however, you’re looking for a trip down memory lane by design rather than default (or defect), here are four bars you can find in Liverpool today indulging in a bit of nostalgia for bygone times.
This 1800’s-themed cocktail bar launched onto the scene in 2019 in a former merchant’s house on Duke Street. Marked by a lantern overlooking the pavement, visitors are invited to ring on the bell and enter the crooked establishment, which takes old Victorian gambling dens as its main inspiration. Those who choose to flirt with Lady Luck can take their pick from a selection of game rooms and cards tables to partake in some good old-fashioned debauchery.
Those who prefer to watch from the side lines can relax in an armchair by the marble fireplace and witness some psychological illusion and sleight-of-hand trickery by The Oracle’s rabble of close-up magicians. Cocktails are a marriage of classic and contemporary, including The Green Fairy – a traditional absinthe fountain designed not for the fainthearted. Midnight snacks stolen from the pantry include an array of flavoured peanuts, olives and of course, some pork scratchings, Guvna!
The Oracle, 92 Duke Street, L1 5AG
Berry & Rye
The OG of Liverpool bars stepping back in time is of course, none other than the illustrious Berry & Rye. Breaking the mould of neon lights and dayglo cocktails that bars of today seem so brass-boundedly attached to, this Prohibition-style speakeasy is the true epitome of the era. Not in the Gatsby, roaring twenties, opulence kind of way but rather an illicit, clandestine, prohibited drinking den which shows not one single shred of novelty or theatrics. You’ll have to find it first though...
The bar sits behind an unsuspecting façade along the shabbier side of the street, with nothing much more than some grimy windows and a door covered in peeling black paint to mark the spot. Knock on the door and enter through the black curtain into the intimate, candlelit, incense-scented space which seats no more than 20 people at a time. Gins, whiskeys and hard liquor are the speciality here but we challenge you to stray from the cocktail menu presented in old leather-bound books, featuring what many have dubbed the best Old Fashioned in town. Fortunately, sale and consumption are definitely unprohibited in this establishment.
Berry & Rye, 48 Berry Street, L1 4JQ
Peaky Blinders Bar
Take a stroll about ten minutes out of the centre of town towards the Cains Brewery Village and you’ll stumble across the Peaky Blinders Bar – or as it has come to be more recently known, the Peaky Blinders Bar & Food Court. The Grade II-listed warehouse might have only been taken over in 2017 but step into the historic venue, which dates back to 1850 and it’s all 1920’s, from twinkling chandeliers and red velvet furniture to cast iron staircase and industrial charcoal colour palette.
You’ll likely find a rabble of flappers and dapper chaps in full Shelby regalia – flat caps, pocket watches and waistcoats, the lot – propping up the expansive ground floor bar. Perhaps they’ll be ordering a Shelby’s Gin and tonic, a Grace’s Secret cocktail or maybe it will be the Pilsner Urquell unpasteurised tank beer, sealed and flown directly from the Czech Republic for freshness. Legend has it, the pilsner is hangover-free but we’re yet to find anybody who can confirm that the rumours are true.
Peaky Blinders Bar, Cains Brewery Village, Stanhope Street, L8 5XJ
If video killed the radio star then Spotify slaughtered the Spice Girls, and FIFA murdered Mario and Luigi. Thankfully, the brains behind NQ64 brought their retro concept of a games-arcade-cum-drinking-den to the city to help us remember simpler times when Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde where the only ghouls we had to run for our lives from. Descend the Colquitt Street stairs into the underground bar and games arcade, lit by nothing but neon screens, flashing consoles and the glow of UV graffiti.
Swap cash for tokens at the bar and dip ‘n’ dive your way through the decades, from Pacman, Nintendo and Donkey Kong through to dance mat and Guitar Hero. Rehydrate with a selection of 80’s and 90’s themed cocktails, including the Root Beer Tapper – a nod to ‘the most innovative coin-op game of 1984’. Chuck Taylor baseball boots and plaid shirts aren’t compulsory but it would be rude not to.
NQ64, 22 Colquitt Street, L1 4DE