Swindon and it’s nightlife is separated into two distinctive categories. Town and Old Town. You avoid Town like the plague and almost anyone with sense flocks to the bars of Old Town. These bars and restaurants are rammed on a weekend and the atmosphere in Old Town and in particular, Wood Street, is vibrant, loud, a little obnoxious and on the most part, fun. Wood Street is one of my favorite parts of Swindon, day or night – quirky shops, a beautiful delicatessen and more than your fair share of watering holes for lunch, coffee and brunch that doubles up as base for a good night out – with more cocktails that you can shake a cocktail umbrella at.
Round the corner from the vibrant hustle and bustle is Victoria Hill, on par with restaurants a coffee shop, charity shops, the Vic pub and until fairly recently one bar. I drove past 1801 a few weeks ago, it used to be a hairdressers and saw that it served coffee and cocktails – what more could you want from a bar? Making a mental note that I will go very soon.
My first trip to 1801 was last weekend, after a long day and a surprise birthday afternoon tea. I was taken there by my two friends and to be honest, I was a little tired and it was overwhelming because there is so much, good choice! so I didn’t fully appreciate it. I can, however recommend the The English Garden – which comes in a cute teapot with glasses. It’s also gin, so, standard really.
After a long day shopping, it’s natural to want to carry on your nice day and end it on a high note. That’s how me and Emma wound up in 1801 last night. Emma, although from Swindon, lives in Bristol and doesn’t come back near as enough as I think she should, so I wanted to give 1801 another bash, whilst I had the energy to appreciate it and to show Emma another reason to come home 😉 The bar itself is intimate with low lighting, you’re greeted by the owner at the door which I love as it’s a personal welcome which makes you feel at home almost immediately. It’s in a good location which means it’s always busy, but never busy enough for it to be uncomfortable and unenjoyable and everyone in it isn’t pretentious, which is something that Old Town’s bars can suffer from.. and more importantly, the cocktails – at 2 for £12 or £6.95 each are to die for!
You can also chop and change, so the 2 for £12 deal isn’t exclusive to “two cosmos” which is so good for someone like me who can never make a firm decision on anything of importance, such as cocktails. After last weekends venture into gin, rum took my fancy and I opted for the pineapple and coconut sangria. Complete with fresh pineapple in the glass and chunks to garnish, some moscato wine and served in a mason jar. Emma, after an extensive conversation about espresso martinis earlier in the day opted for that and added a french martini for good measure!
We stayed for another cheeky drink, as we were putting the world to rights – after all, you need adequate fuel for world righting. Mojito time!
Strawberry and Basil mojitos is a flavour combination I fell in love with in San Francisco last summer (pretentious name drop there..) after having a midday mojito before boarding a boat – logic at it’s best. So seeing it on a cocktail menu in England for the first time, thrilled me and it was of utmost importance and in my best interest that I tried one! It was gorgeous! a little basil-y and sour at the end but all in all, very enjoyable. Poor Emma, on trying the drink, manage to drink about 4 basil leaves so her opinion of the cocktail is slightly different to mine. She opted for the blueberry mojito, which is what my friends had last week – and was pretty amazing too. I may revisit that on my next trip..
All in all, my mission is to now try the whole menu, after all – a cocktail bar that serves strawberry and basil mojitos, coffee and now BRUNCH, is within walking distance of my house. I would be stupid to not utilise that really…