Coco’s Bar & Tapas

I first stumbled across CoCo’s bar when I was looking for a venue to host my weekly intercambio language exchange evening. It was in the perfect central location in the vibrant Realejo neighbourhood of the city, and even from the outside, it appeared to have something really special about it, that differed from the array of typical tourist traps in the city.

It’s a cosy, intimate tapas bar, like all the best hidden gems are! It may be small in size, but it’s huge in allure and personality, with unmissable live music performances throughout the week! Proving to be the perfect acoustic setting for latin, flamenco or even some sultry bluesy-jazz. The decor is chic and modern, yet still has that authentic tavern feel, with oversized lightbulbs hanging from the ceiling and a really charming ambience, which is a total reflection of the clientele you will find here. An eclectic mix of locals and expats alike, each person with their own fascinating story to tell.

The tapas here are delicious mouthfuls of pincho-style snacks, with a piece of bread topped with traditional Spanish tortilla, or even a burger patty with caramelised onions. The homemade sangría has won rave reviews from the customers, and if you fancy something even more extraordinary, then Coco’s array of fabulous cocktails is an absolute triumph!

What sets CoCo’s aside from the rest, is the exquisite attention to detail. Eduardo, the owner, and his lovely wife, offer an incredibly warm welcome, going above and beyond to ensure you enjoy your evening at CoCo’s. The service is both outstanding and exemplary – It’s an absolute 10/10 from me!


https://www.facebook.com/eduar0309/

Calle San Matías, 4, 18009 Granada, Spain

+34 622 23 45 52

Photos by Corinne Rossiter


LEAF

Usually when it comes to industrial-style eateries and tea shops in Manchester, the Northern Quarter is your natural port of call. However, trust me when I say it’s worth making the (very minor) detour to the bottom end of Portland Street, where you’ll find LEAF. Born in Liverpool, LEAF is all you could want from a tea shop, bar, eatery and venue – and then some. As well as offering “Brunch and Beats” (their sweet Sunday soiree which involves brunch and live DJs) and “Pudding Club”, LEAF also hosts a book club, life drawing sessions, wine tasting and night time music fun featuring local musicians and DJs.

When it comes to food, LEAF gets it spot-on. Ranging from burgers to salt & pepper squid, from veggie Goan curry (my favourite) to jerk lamb, there’s really something for everyone. Aside from a diverse and delicious food menu, gin is their thing. A flurry of floral options includes lavender & star anise, and pink grapefruit & jasmine tea, and their non-alcoholic drinks list is even longer. I’ve never counted, but there’s upwards of 50 different loose leaf tea options, either to enjoy there and then, or to buy from their little shop to take home.

One of the key differentiators between LEAF and those similar across town is the space. It’s so roomy compared to the numerous poky cafes and tea shops with tables tucked into every corner possible. These have their charm of course, but large groups are easily accommodated in LEAF and elbow room is aplenty. With additional event and meeting spaces, I’m really not sure what else they could possibly add to their repertoire of offerings!


thisisleaf.co.uk/manchester

113–115 Portland Street
Manchester
M1 6DW
+44 161 883 1138

Photos by @leafonportlandst


Café Pushkin

Café Pushkin is found on a stretch of road in Leipzig with more independents than chains. But this café is different. To start with, the creeping vines over the golden and maroon exterior, at once warm and inviting, makes Pushkin frankly impossibly to miss. And yet inside, you are transported somewhere else entirely. The Slavic influenced interior and memorabilia on the walls gives a nod to the 19th Century Russian poet, the café’s namesake.

I first came here on a drab Monday morning and pushing back the heavy velvet curtains revealed a cosy and warm café – the perfect refuge from the rain.  As a big tea fan I was delighted to see their great selection of loose leaf teas. There are also thirteen different hot chocolates to choose from – all very authentic, consisting of melted chocolate in a mug.

The breakfasts are infamous, too. You can rely on getting a hearty breakfast here a ‘Bauernomelett’ (which translates as the farmer’s omelette) will set you back €7.50 but is guaranteed to fill you up until dinner. That’s if you can get a seat. By 10.30am on a Saturday they are usually full and customers stand hovering by the entrance waiting to catch the next available table. There are also lunch and dinner menus and some satirical titles, such as ‘Formidabel cheese’ (a huge cheese burger) and ‘Huhnululu’ (Hawain inspired ‘Huhn’ chicken dish) are both inventive and ‘punny’. Their burger menu, the ‘Burgeramt’, is another amusing play on words for Germans’ love of bureaucracy and burgers.

‘Das Chillum’, which roughly translates as the ‘chill lounge’, is where the shisha-bar can be found, with countless numbers of cocktails and great music. Having been to Pushkin at various times of day for food and drink, I look forward to trying their evening set up.


www.cafepuschkin.de

Karl-Liebknecht-Straße 74,
04275 Leipzig
 +49 341 3910105 


Photo by Bethan Donaghey


Senza Nome

How better to spend an evening than listening to some live music with a glass of aperol? Especially if the bar lays out some snacks to go with your drink, as is tradition in Italy. This was the scene my friends and I were presented with at Senza Nome, a bar crowded with groups of friends chatting loudly with a jazz band accompanying the lively atmosphere. This very popular bar situated in the central via Belvedere has a defining characteristic: it is run exclusively by deaf people. Senza Nome was born from the initiative to unite different cultures and languages, and to integrate deaf with hearing people, which as we looked around and struggled to find a seat, has obviously proved a very successful enterprise.

Ordering a drink is by no means difficult or awkward, it can be done in many ways: sign language is of course ideal, but if you’re not fluent in this form of communication don’t worry, the wall opposite the bar has bits of paper with different drinks written on them, for customers to hand to the bar staff. Basic hand gestures are also valid, and you may even learn to order your drink in Italian hand gestures with some help from the instructions posted on the walls.

With somewhat messy, lighthearted decoration, the setting is as much of a bar as a space for concerts, workshops, talks and even film events. The cheap prices are also an attractive aspect, and there seems to be an endless supply of peanuts which customers definitely take advantage of….But most of all Senza Nome is a friendly place, and reflects the tight sense of community unique to small cities like Bologna.


www.facebook.com/Senza-Nome

Via Belvedere 11/B,
40123,
Bologna
+39 392 516 2896


Boilermaker

Situated on Nottingham’s trendiest road, Carlton Street, home to thrift shops, independent cafes and bars, Boilermaker is Hockley’s renowned speakeasy cocktail bar.

Boilermaker, on first impressions, looks exactly like it says on the tin. With an unappealing shop front and no signage, it could easily be deemed as abandoned by passers by and is gone unnoticed during the day.
When walking through the unassuming shop front door of the ‘boiler shop’ to a ‘Del Boy’-like salesman behind a desk, and then through the ‘Staff Only’ door to a secret annex, which resembles a cloakroom, I felt more than a little uneasy as my friend pushed back the wall with the sink, to reveal the secret realm of the Boilermaker bar. Only its long queues outside the boiler shop by 10pm would give its existence away. The dimly-lit space, with vines, fairy lights, glass ceiling and grand piano all contribute to the magic and on arrival you are greeted by someone waiting to seat you.

The drinks menu is designed like a boiler manual, and its opening pages introduce the background of the bar in a tongue-in-cheek style. The owners describe its opening in October 2013, ‘like going to big school’, but since a couple of years have passed, they now ‘know it all’.

The drinks themselves also have unashamedly ‘punny’ names and descriptions. Each description upholds the boiler manual theme, comprising of ‘design’, ‘features’, ‘technical information’ and ‘service and support’. At £7.50 each, the cocktails don’t come cheap for students, but you won’t find these drinks anywhere else. They have been created with the imagination of the staff, and each concoction as creative as the next. Favourites of mine include ‘Mango Unchained ft. Quentin Tapatio’ which has blanco tequila and grilled fresh mango-infused agave syrup as the main ingredients, and the Obi Wan Negroni, which they claim to serve ‘with a chunk of Hoth’.

The atmosphere is pleasant and intimate. It’s the type of place to go to for an excuse to dress up, or for a nice occasion. It’s more formal than the Lloyd’s opposite, but it’s also not uncomfortably stiff. Instead, it strikes the perfect balance to create a relaxed ambience. The masterminds behind this bar clearly had some fun with it and encourage their guests to have fun with them, and its refreshing to go to a bar like this that doesn’t take itself too seriously.


http://boilermakerbar.co.uk/

36b Carlton St,
Nottingham
NG1 1NN


Science & Cocktails

Science and Cocktails was founded in 2010, with the aim of making complex scientific research accessible for the average person (aka me). Whilst listening to a scientific expert demystify their area of expertise, the audience are invited to sip on a deliciously indulgent cocktail.

This fortnightly event is held in the self-proclaimed autonomous neighbourhood of Christiania in Copenhagen. The free-of-charge evening revolves around a presentation and discussion of a variety of theories in a relaxed and welcoming setting. When scientific knowledge is often placed on a pedestal, out of reach for those not in an academic circle, Science & Cocktails deconstructs the learning experience in to an enjoyable and entertaining event. The creators have successfully opened up the field of science to anyone and everyone.

The theories covered at Science & Cocktails range from life in the deep ocean to computer privacy and surveillance, music in the brain to ‘out of body’ experiences. Whatever topic you are interested in exploring, there is no doubt you will find your niche at this innovative event.

Now on to the important bit! The cocktails are served to you by mixologists in white coats. The bar is a haze of dry ice and the menu boasts drinks such as ‘Brain Storm’ (bourbon, Cointreau, rum, fruit and syrup) or ‘Primordial Soup’ (schnaps – which the Danes are bizarrely obsessed with – Cointreau, basil and kiwi). The whole experience is hugely entertaining and creative.

After much curiosity about the concept, I managed to squeeze in to this highly popular event. I had the pleasure of listening to Nancy Segal, an evolutionary psychologist and geneticist, discuss the intriguing theories surrounding twins raised apart. It was so refreshing to sit and listen to Nancy without having to scribble down every last word, as you would in a normal lecture. The topic was fascinating, and the speaker herself was thrilled to be sharing her research in such an unusual and inventive setting.<

All the scientific experts, mixologists, and organisers involved are volunteers who share the same aim of combining science and entertainment in urban areas. The event has recently been introduced in Johannesburg, as well as Copenhagen. The organisers are hopeful that the Science and Cocktails phenomena will spread to other cities– encouraging the flow of culture and science to other like-minded people.

Make sure you give it a try next time you are visiting Copenhagen, but be sure to arrive early as the popularity of this event grows and grows…

www.scienceandcocktails.org


Sherry Butt

Sherry Butt is full of beautiful Parisians making eyes at each other over expensive cocktails. The bar is small and swanky and hard to spot from the street. The dim lighting means it would make a fantastic date place, shame I went with a group of friends who were more interested in the massive plates of Spanish salami (which were actually really tasty, and pretty good value compared to the cocktails).

With small cocktails all costing around 13 euros, maybe this isn’t the place to go if you’re trying to save money. But to be honest, if you want to save money in Paris the only real option is staying in (and maybe considering moving cities). But it’s a fun place to go and people watch, and pretend that you don’t having a crippling student loan for the evening.


www.sherrybuttparis.com/

 20 Rue Beautreillis, 75004 Paris
+33 9 83 38 47 80


Bespoke

Just a few roads away from Faubourg St Antoine, in the trendy area of Oberkampf, we came across Bespoke, one of those ‘rustic’ restaurants that tries to stand out by playing down.

We visited this hipster hangout, as some might call it, when the weather was practically baking. Sadly the limited seating outside meant we were led to the back of the restaurant, where the lighting or lack of was a stark contrast to blazing sun outside. Note to self: save for a rainy day next time.

The staff were very friendly – they’ve clearly been to charm school – and also very accommodating of our hangovers by providing a constant water supply.

The waiter, trying to play it cool, chose not to use a notepad when taking an order. This is always so admirable when it works out, but not when they have to come back and check the order and then still the wrong food arrives.

My friend and I went for the baked eggs, with tomato, chorizo and thyme, a simplified take on a Shakshouka, if you may. However, when the correct food eventually came, we ate four spoonfuls and the meal was finished. It’s always a shame when it’s not the filling lunch you were hoping for.

On a more positive note, though, my two other friends ordered contrasting savoury and sweet waffles, which looked absolutely delicious and apparently were. The drinks list was endless, and the menu was on the whole quite creative, maybe if a little overpriced. So in summary, perhaps this place is more suitable for an evening of sipping sophisticated cocktails than for a lazy afternoon lunch.


http://bspk.fr/

3 Rue Oberkampf
Paris, 75011
+33 1 58 30 88 59