13 cocktail bars you need to visit in Essex

Cocktails in Essex, Santypan. Shutterstock

Cocktails in Essex, Santypan. Shutterstock - Credit: Archant

Whether you like them elegantly simple or flamboyant and fun, Essex has a plethora of fantastic cocktail places. Here are our favourite bars, pubs and restaurants in the county you should try if you're in the mood for one...

1. Three Wise Monkeys, Colchester

A laid-back tap and smokehouse with exposed brick and raw wood interiors, often people go to Three Wise Monkeys for the venue's craft ales and beers and hefty all-day dining menu. 

However, come Friday and Saturday, the basement gin bar has more than 55 artisan gins and spirits, and the know-how to mix them into drinks you can savour on a chilled-out night. 

Address: 60 High St, Colchester, CO1 1DN

Opening Hours: Sunday to Thursday 11am-12am, Friday & Saturday 11am-1am

Website: threewisemonkeyscolchester.com

2. Ginny's Cocktail Lounge, Maldon

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A little bit camp and a lot neon pink, Ginny's Cocktail Lounge serves up a fresh and slightly kitsch menu of classic tipples with old-school charm - a vanilla pear drop or blackberry negroni for aperitifs, a pina colada and a daiquiri for any time of day, and a grasshopper and biscoff martini for a post-dinner drink.

For those of you who like their cocktails a little bit extra, there's birthday cake martini, served in a hundreds and thousands encrusted glass.

Address: 70B High St, Maldon CM9 5ET

Opening Hours: Tuesday to Thursday 5pm-10pm; Friday & Saturday 5pm to 11pm

Website: ginnysbar.com

3. Fete Lounge, Upminster

A spot for either brunch and high tea during the day, or cocktails and nibbles in the evening, Fete Lounge has an array of indulgent and flamboyant cocktails to try. 

The extensive cocktail list is broken down into section such as coffee and tea infused drinks, or gin, seasonal and classic tipples. Fete Lounge also has a handful of cocktails available as part of a bottomless brunch as well.

Address: 6 Station Road, Upminster, RM14 2UB

Opening Hours: Wednesday 12pm-11pm; Thursday 12pm-11pm; Friday & Saturday 12pm-12am; Sunday 12pm-8pm

Website: fetelounge.com

4. Array Essex, Romford

Somewhere to while away an afternoon, evening or night, Array Essex has a kitchen plating up a fusion menu of European and Asian cuisine, DJs on the decks and a well-stocked bar mixing a number of decadent drinks. 

Get stuck into a Love Island ice tea or a smoked vampire blood for something new, or a pornstar martini or amaretto sour for more of a classic tipple. 

Address: 91 Shepherds Hill, Romford RM3 0NP

Opening Hours: Sunday to Wednesday 12pm-12am; Thursday to Saturday 12pm to 1am

Website: arrayessex.com

5. Harry's, Billericay

This Billericay wine bar and kitchen serves up small plates and tapas, brunch, a Sunday lunch as well as sharing platters and mains for dinner. 

It also has a a considered cocktail list should you prefer one to wine with your meal. If you're older than 25-years-old, you can have a drink at the bar without meal, and dining is family-friendly. 

Address: High St, Billericay CM12 9BQ

Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday 12pm-9pm

Website: harrysbarbillericay.co.uk

6. French Martini, Billericay

All-day dining spot, that comes with a steak menu separate to its brunch and dinner options, French Martini is a spot for a well-mixed drink too (as the name would suggest). 

Go for something fresh and fruity, such as the pineapple-based love potion, a bloody Mary with your weekend full English, or a berry mojito on a night out with the girls. 

Address: 2 Western Road, Billericay CM12 9DZ

Opening Hours: Tuesday to Thursday 9.30am-10pm; Friday to Saturday 9.30am to late; Sunday 9am-6pm

Website: frenchmartini.co.uk

7. Bottle Bureau, Chelmsford

A late-night haunt, the lights are low and the chairs are inviting at Bottle Bureau in Chelmsford. 

It's also one for the gin lovers too, with more than 200 types of the stuff behind the bar, along with craft beers, wine and a selection of other spirits as well. 

Address: 59 New Street, Basement of Waterloo House, Chelmsford CM1 1NE

Opening Hours: Thursday & Friday 4pm-late; Saturday 1pm - late

Website: bottlebureau.co.uk

8. Twisters, Colchester

With DJs playing indie, rock, punk or funk and soul, Twisters has earnt a name as one of Colchester's best indie/alternative night spots. 

Drinks, which you can enjoy inside or in the heated beer garden, include classic cocktails, or fresh takes on tried and tested faves such as the elderflower fling or a raspberry and lychee martini. You can also order a teapot full of a number of creative libations. 

Address: 45 North Hill, Colchester, CO1 1PY

Opening Hours: Friday & Saturday 5pm - 1.30am

Website: twistersbar.com

9. V-Bar, Colchester

Priding themselves on being a bar that's a little bit different, V-Bar has cocktail making parties, and a function room available to hire any night of the week for a birthday, hens or work night out. 

Offering weekly and monthly drink deals, V-Bar's cocktails and booze list is extensive, covering shots, classic cocktails, fresh-takes and bombs. 

Address: 105 High Street, Colchester CO1 1TH

Opening Hours: Friday & Saturday 7pm-2am

Website: v-bar.com

10. Vertigo, Hornchurch

This modern lounge bar is based over three floors, each one with its own unique identity. The ground floor is designed to be a casual space for relaxed drinks.

Pop in for a tipple in the week after work or sample the vast cocktail menu until the early hours on the weekends whilst listening to the resident DJ. The middle floor acts as a function room, serving delicious afternoon teas for birthdays, weddings or any other celebration you can think of.

And finally the top floor, offering stunning views of the Hornchurch skyline, is the perfect spot for a more intimate drink, complete with its own private outdoor terrace.

Address: 17-19 Station Lane, Hornchurch, RM12 6JL

Opening Hours: Friday & Saturday 12pm-1am; Sunday 12pm-6pm

Website: vertigolounge.co.uk

11. The Brickyard, Romford

The Brickyard in Romford is not only a bar and club it’s also a restaurant with a modern, sophisticated atmosphere perfect for a night out or even for a few casual, relaxed drinks after work.

The two bars serve a fantastic mix of classics cocktails and the music, live bongos, saxophones and dancers, make for a eclectic, vibrant environment.

Address: 222 South Street, Romford RM1 2AD

Opening Hours: Thursday 4pm-11pm; Friday 4pm-2am; Saturday 12pm-2am; Sunday 12pm-10pm

Website: thebrickyardessex.com

12. The Wine Cellar, Chelmsford

Hidden away along the charming alleyways next to Chelmsford’s Cathedral you’ll find The Wine Cellar. Known for serving a staggering array of drinks from exotic bottled beers and a humungous wine list, as well as a range of luxurious cocktails, there is something here for every palate.

The independent restaurant also serves delicious food from a varied menu featuring corn fed chicken supreme, rib eye steak and thyme roasted vegetable tarte tatin.

Address: 4a Duke Street, Chelmsford CM1 1HL

Opening Hours: Wednesday & Thursday 11.30am-11.30pm; Friday & Saturday 11.30am-1am

Website: thewinecellarchelmsford.co.uk

13. Back Inn Time, Chelmsford

Back Inn Time is all about bringing the great tastes of the United States to the people of Chelmsford. The American themed diner enjoys a relaxed, fun-filled atmosphere, the perfect place to kick back with family or friends.

Tuck into a massive selection of burgers, steaks, ribs and even Mexican chilli. The cocktail list on offer is staggering with lots of different drinks to choose from. So many in fact that you’ll need to visit several times over before you’ve sampled them all!

Address: Victoria Road, Chelmsford CM1 1NY

Opening Hours: Monday to Friday 12pm-3pm, 5.30pm-late; Saturday 5.30pm-late; Sunday 12pm-late

Website: backinntime.co.uk