Rustic pubs, beach bars and wine warehouses; take your pick of ways to wind down after a long, hard day of lying on the beach. Gone are the days of The Ops Room in Portreath, where regular police visits led to the DJ keeping the Z Cars theme on hand for whenever they’d come to try and shut down the party. Nevertheless, a night out in Cornwall isn’t dead; whether you’re looking for chilled out drinks, or to dance the night away, there’s sure to be something to keep you occupied when the sun goes down.
Nightlife in Cornwall
Transport yourself from Cornwall to the Caribbean, via the cocktails on offer at Cribbs Caribbean Café & Bar in Falmouth. You could order the usual suspects – like mojitos and margaritas, but you’d be missing out. At Cribbs, it’s the ‘Caribbean cocktails’ that steal the show. If you want a recommendation, try ‘La Soufrière’ – named after the volcano in St. Vincent (where the owner was born), and because it contains Cribbs’ homemade chilli sauce.
One of Cornwall’s unique bars is The Chintz Symposium. It’s the kind of place that would be more at home amidst the ruin bars of Budapest than a backstreet off Falmouth town centre. Found in the converted loft space above HAND Beer Bar (also a great place to head for a drink) it was designed to evoke Lewis Carroll’s Alice In Wonderland, with walls of mirrors, eclectic furniture and a ceiling full of picture frames. Its charm is quite special, the wine list changes weekly, and as the team is built up of ‘a bunch of Cornish reprobates’ they’ve made sure you can get your fill of Cornish ciders, from scrumpy to Rattler.
Many bars in Cornwall pride themselves on being near the beach, but there’s only one (in the whole of the UK) that can brag about being on the beach – The Watering Hole is literally on the sands of Perranporth beach. It began with a man named Bob, who knocked up a shack on the beach where he could rent out deck chairs, surfing gear and sell ice cream and it’s grown to become one of the best spots on the west coast. Imagine sitting watching the sunset, with sand beneath your feet, a cold pint in your hand, and live music in your ears.
Away from the beach, in the busy (by Cornwall’s standards) city of Truro, The Old Grammar School serves up tasty tapas and solid cocktails from their quaint Grade II listed building. The atmosphere’s cool and the music’s good – playing until late on Fridays and Saturdays, when resident DJs are given free rein to let loose a little.
The bar at The Beach at Bude is worthy of a mention. You can take a seat on the terrace, looking out over Bude’s Summerleaze Beach, and sip your way through some expertly mixed offerings. Their Cornish mules certainly kick like their namesake, which makes it dangerous that they’re so delicious. Plus, if you head down on a Sunday, you can be serenaded by some local live music to add to the atmosphere.
Sticking around in Bude, another option is North Coast Wine Company. It’s a ‘wine warehouse’ where you can peruse and purchase hundreds of different types of wine. What sets North Coast Wine Co. apart is that, after their popularity drove them to larger premises, they’ve been able to set up their own in-store bar, where you can drink anything from the shelves – that’d be quite a wine list to write up! It doesn’t matter if you can’t tell a Carménère from a Capri Sun, the experienced staff are on hand to help you make your selection. And, if wine isn't your thing, they also stock spirits, ales and ciders locally sourced here in the south-west.
The Chintz Symposium
North Coast Wine
North Coast Wine Co.
There are hundreds of pubs in Cornwall to choose from, so here’s a definitive guide to the inns and stouts of Cornish pubs.
They say we should ‘Respect our elders’, so we’ll start with the oldest British pub still brewing their own beer. You can find The Blue Anchor in Helston where they’ve been brewing ‘Spingo Ales’ for hundreds of years. Their four beers all celebrate major anniversaries; in order of strength, the ‘IPA’ was first brewed for Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee in 2002, the ‘Middle’ was made to welcome home the soldiers of World War I, ‘Bragget’ celebrated the 800-year anniversary of Helston’s first charter. And, last but not least, ‘Special’ (weighing in at a hefty 6.5% ABV, with a 7.6% extra special brew for Christmas and Easter) was masterfully concocted for the marriage of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer.
From a pub with strict traditions to one breaking all of the rules; Beerwolf Books Freehouse in Falmouth is half bookshop, half pub. What’s more, they don’t serve food (but you can bring your own), and the music playlist actually contains stuff you’d like to listen to. The range of beers and ciders is as impressive as is the variety of people you’ll see in this freehouse – as you’d expect, the clientele is rather different from your usual boozer. Of course, there are also plenty of pubs that are just straight up, no gimmicks, great places to go and guzzle a pint, including The Crows Nest Inn on the edge of Bodmin Moor, with its rustic charm, and the recently refurbished Chain Locker in Falmouth – a great place to enjoy a drink while overlooking the harbour.