Photography by The Milk Thistle
Words by Difford's Guide on 19-Feb-2019
The Milk Thistle, Quay Head House, Bristol, BS1 1EB, United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)117 929 4429
Website: View bar's website
Hours: Monday – Wednesday 5pm – 1.30am Thursday – Saturday 5pm – 3am
Door: Open door
Style: Cocktail bar
Recommended for: Cocktails, Historic interest
Price guide: Middling
Food: Plates & dishes
The major attraction for this bar is its location - an impressive heritage Grade II Listed building, restored to its former glory by the owners.
What was once an old merchant's house is now a cocktail bar in the style of a speakeasy. The Milk Thistle has an inconspicuous sign beside large black doors and yet it's possible you'll walk straight past the building without giving it a second glance. After pressing the buzzer, you'll be met by the host and warmly welcomed as if greeted by an old friend.
The candlelit bar is decorated with an assortment of taxidermy animals. A domineering Canadian elk named George hangs on one wall and is the central theme of the bar's latest menu, illustrated in-house by assistant manager, Sarah.
Stretching over four floors, the décor is dark with a gentlemen's club feel, especially upstairs where a maze of leather and velvet couches feature in a beautiful wood panelled room available for private parties. Underground, the vault has the original thick door soon to be restored into a working bar. The attic upstairs can also be hired for private dining.
Cocktails are imaginative and delicious, and of course the team here are more than proficient at making classics as well. Service is very courteous and warm. The host, also working the bar, interchanges among stations as and when required. However, the problem with such a large venue is filling it, an experience here in a full and bustling bar is completely different to the ghostly atmosphere when it's quiet. It's also worth asking a member of staff a little more about its history.