To me, going out for cocktails isn’t just something to do when you’re bored to fill time, it’s something special. You choose carefully who you are with and where you want to make new memories. You want somewhere that invites you in and allows you time to catch up, laugh, make new friends and stumble back up to the bar for one last drink. My two favourite spots range in price, mood, creativity so by the end of this article, you will have one that suits you perfectly or like me, you’ll hit them both up on a Friday night! Keep reading for the best places for when and where to get drinks in Winchester.
Where: O’Neills When: Mon-Fri 5-8pm
O’Neills from the outside just looks like your average Joe pub and admittedly, when you get there at 5pm on a Wednesday evening, it’s relatively quiet. But when I went, you sit down and are hit with such an amazingly wide and varied menu that you know in about half an hour you won’t care if you’re the only ones there.
The cocktails at O’Neills are absolutely sensational. They do all the classics such as Martinis and Pina Coladas but then they throw you off course with a Partygirl sour which is made with gin, raspberry liquor and lemon sour. This very cocktail is what sealed the deal for me; it is so refreshingly sweet but has that enormous sour kick at the end. I’ve never had a cocktail quite like it.
The part that makes O’Neills unique in Winchester is that you can mix and match the cocktails. There’s nothing worse than getting two Pina Coladas and realising at the end of the first one that you can’t consume any more alcohol mixed with cream. I’ve been there. So for £8, you can get two different cocktails. If you are a first timer, this means you can scope out all the variety they offer.
The music that is played is up to date and upbeat so this adds to the atmosphere and makes it really relaxed and enjoyable. One of the most important parts of going out for a drink is feeling welcomed and comfortable and you get this with the staff who seem genuinely happy to be there.
O’Neills is one of those places where you are pleasantly surprised with the quality because it just isn’t what you expected. All the cocktails come in big glasses and are decorated with mini umbrellas to help you live the fantasy that you are actually in a bar by the beach in Spain avoiding all your responsibilities. When you leave O’Neills, you’ll be feeling satisfied and definitely a bit tipsy.
Where: Pitcher&Piano When: Friday + Saturday night
Pitcher&Piano holds a special place in Winchester student’s hearts because, it’s so expensive, you can only afford to go on the night you get your student loan and are left reeling without it for the rest of the semester.
The cocktails in P&P are so creative and there is such an explosion of flavours when you look at the menu – Sweet, Sour, Bitter, Fruity and more. The cocktails are kept fresh because they are classics with twists but some are very out there. Like O’Niells, one stands out for me – the Blackberry Sling. You order at the bar and you watch them crush blackberries and mix it with liquor and strain it and it builds suspense because each time it will taste slightly different, but always delicious. That’s something you get when you go somewhere where every cocktail is crafted and that’s one of the things you pay for – skill goes into every drink. Nearly every cocktails is £7.50 each and although they aren’t filled with ice to bulk them out, the glasses aren’t massive. Expensive. But ultimately worth it.
On a Saturday night, when it’s dark out and the people start filling the place up, the tables are moved, the lights are dimmed, the music goes up and it turns into a makeshift nightclub with some people dancing and other groups of friends laughing as they crowd the bar. The low lighting makes the atmosphere seem extremely intimate and whoever you are with, you are in your own little world. If you need an excuse to go, P&P is a wonderful place for a special occasion but less so for just a casual drink.
So, these are your two best options for cocktails in Winchester. In my option the quality of the cocktails are better in Pitcher&Piano but the price holds it back. Both places have great qualities that make them contenders for your new favourite place – excellent atmospheres and never ending lists of cocktails. If you are celebrating your flatmate getting a new job then P&P is the place to go, but if you don’t want to break the bank but still want to have the endless laughs you get from good company and first class cocktails, O’Neills is the best option.