A new, updated version of this article can be found here
With the lovely summer months drawing in, Bristolians are slowly starting to come out of their shells, and out of the pubs into the streets and the luscious gardens around them.
From quiet suburban green patches to the bustling city decks and yards, there’s loads of choice for the local eager to drink their beverage al fresco.
Outdoor drinker Peter Walsh is here to help steer you towards some of the finer licensed patches the city has to offer.
Under The Stars
Positioned right in the heart of the city, right opposite the Watershed, is a floating watering hole called Under the Stars. Below deck you’ll find a nice bar with a neat 1920s retro vibe, but it’s up on deck where the sun is to be caught and the world to be watched. A surprisingly intimate eye of calm in the urban storm, during the day on weekends you can watch the bustling market along the waterfront. More exciting is perhaps the evening, where you can while away the hours watching the ebb and flow of drunken revellers going up and down town.
Watercress Rd, Bristol, 0117 944 2384, underthestarsbar.co.uk
White Lion Bar at The Avon Gorge Hotel
— Mary Mills (@Mary_Mills1) April 22, 2015
A favourite with tourists and locals, both keen to have a gander at Brunel’s engineering brilliance while supping a beverage of their choice. With a view over the titular gorge, and with sun pretty much all day, this would be an ideal spot. But drinkers should be wary of high prices, a long wait, and numerous online reports of patchy service. Views like this clearly come at a price, question being if you are willing to pay it!
Sion Hill, Bristol, 0117 973 8955, theavongorge.com
The Victoria is a great little pub hidden down the residential streets of Westbury-upon-Trym, tucked away at the bottom of Chock Lane. Like many of the nearby houses, it is made from rock hewn from the nearby slopes, and around the back is perched their ‘secret garden’ decked across a couple of levels. A local pub with a friendly and welcoming feel.
20 Chock Lane, Bristol, 0117 950 0441, thevictoriapub.co.uk
The Spotted Cow
The busy North Street cuts from Bedminster into Southville, and offers many options for those looking for drinks South of the river. Where the Spotted Cow excels in being able to offer a generously sized beer garden protected from the bustle of the traffic. With garden tables, a lawn, and actually shrubbery, the sight of such a verdant watering spot is a rare thing, and much to be cherished by those who haven’t the luxury of a green garden at home.
Narrow Quay, Harbourside, Bristol, 0117 929 8392, thespottedcowbristol.com
Image: Nick Miles/ Flickr / CC
This pub’s beer garden is one of the best in Bristol, nestled between the St Werburghs City Farm, and the Ashley Valley allotments, drinking rarely gets this green and leafy. For the hungry sort the pub offers a solid range of grub, all locally sourced, and sharing platters and tapas will be first choice for those settling down for a session in the sunny garden. Many an afternoon has been lost to cider in this bright patch, tucked away from the world and the bustle of the city. Highly recommended.
139 North Street, Bristol BS3 1EZ 0117 963 4433, thefarmpub.co.uk
The backyard of the Lansdown pub in central Clifton might not be the greenest patch you can find, but it’s sheltered, comfortably heated, and dotted with curious roman sculptures. What’s more it’s one of the liveliest outdoor drinking spots in town. Whether it is Charles’ raucous quiz on Wednesday evenings, or just the energy of the weekend crowd, there’s always buzz about the garden. With a fine selection of ales, ciders and wines at all times, the joint is also blessed with a superb menu of slighter-finer-than-usual pub grub.
8 Clifton Road, Bristol BS8 1AF, thelansdown.com
The Hope & Anchor
Down the Jacob’s Wells Road is the newly refurbished Hope and Anchor, a sister to the very fine Volunteer Tavern over in St Judes. Just like it’s sibling it matches a kick-arse kitchen with a strong selection of beers, and most importantly a very lovely sun-trap back garden. Cut into the slopes going up Brandon Hill, this decked patch is another calm spot for more than just crafty smokers. Whether you’re going up or down the hill, The Hope & Anchor offers a welcome respite either ways.
38 Jacob’s Wells Road, Bristol BS8 1DR, hopeanchorbristol.com
Centrally located, but quiet enough to just be off the beaten path, the Ostrich has a huge outdoor space overlooking the Bathurst Basin. A historic pub with ties back to the days when actual pirates (not just wannabes) walked the streets of Bristol, the Ostrich is an absolutely lovely spot to while away the hours as the sun sets. Run by the Welsh brewers Brains, you can also be assured of a good selection of beers on tap.
Lower Guinea Street, Bristol BS1 6TJ, sabrain.com/ostrich
The Mason’s Arms
A well-worn local pub in the Northern suburb of Stapleton, those looking for a pleasant walk along the Frome up from Eastville park will find a natural break at the Mason’s Arms. With a range of local favourite ales on tap, the long beer garden outback should be the draw for the visitor. With tables a plenty, this walled haven is a green and pleasant spot that nicely catches the sun in the afternoon.
124 Park Rd, Bristol, Avon BS16 1DT
Kings Street in Central Bristol
— Dave Bain (@davebainuk) August 24, 2014
The final mention is practically a cop-out, as it effectively covers eight pubs over a hundred and fifty yard stretch. Slap-bang in the city centre is the relatively traffic-free Kings Street, and during the summer months Bristolians make ample use of the cobbled street for their drinking. On the West end of the street, you have the Small Bar, the King William Ale House, Renatos, The Famous Royal Navy Volunteer, The Beer Emporium, and Kongs, and then on the East end of the street there’s the Old Duke and The Llandoger Trow.
You’d be hard pushed to find a more varied range of drinking establishments, but what they all have is a stake in Kings Street itself, and on a warm Friday evening it’s one of the most welcoming and sociable drinking spots in the whole city. The campaign to pedestrianize the whole street starts here, for many would raise a glass to that!
Main image: Nick Miles/ Flickr / CC