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Bars & Breweries

5 Bars You Need to Visit in York

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A couple from the UK with a passion for exploring the world, and enjoying a drink or two while we’re at it!

We want to share our travel experiences to help you plan your next trip, and let you know the best places to enjoy a cold one when you get there!

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York is without a doubt one of England’s most beautiful and charming cities! It has some of the oldest surviving medieval buildings in the country, and wandering the quaint cobbled streets within the city’s imposing stone walls will almost make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time to ancient Britain.

Our favourite thing about York though is that it’s also a premier destination for people who like a drink or two! Despite being a relatively small city, York manages to cram 365 pubs into its walls, meaning that you would have to visit a different one every day of the year to see them all!

We visited York back in January 2020 and tried out several of its best bars during a very fun filled weekend. These are five of our favourites, from medieval ale houses to world record holding gin bars, we’ve got you covered!

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House of the Trembling Madness

House of the Trembling Madness is without a doubt one of the quirkiest bars we’ve ever been to, and no trip to York would be complete without a visit!

Not only is this place an outstanding shop with over 5000 beers, ciders, spirits etc. to choose from, head upstairs and it’s like you’re heading back 500 years to experience how your local might have looked when Henry VIII was on the throne! The first-floor bar is decorated like a medieval beer house and has one of the best atmospheres you could want.

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The building may be over 800 years old and its exposed timber beams really give this place some character. Not to mention the walls are adorned with hunting trophies and candles burn on every table in the evening, which really gives it a dimly lit, medieval vibe!

It’s definitely cosy up there, and you’ll need to be comfortable brushing past people to get to your table or the bar, but it’s so worth it when you’re in. They serve a rotation of quirky craft beers as well as some local staples and some more hard to get foreign beers. There’s also a kitchen which churns out homemade stews and sharing platters like they’re going out of fashion.

The only downside is that you can't reserve a table and it is a very popular place, so expect to queue a little, but if the wait times aren’t too bad we think you should 100% give House of the Trembling Madness a visit!

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Brew York

If you’re even remotely into your craft beer, there’s a good chance that you’ve heard the name Brew York before. Their beers aren’t only sold far and wide here in the UK, but internationally as well. Pretty impressive considering they’ve only been open for 4 years!

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Brew York’s taproom is just a short 12-minute walk from York Minster, and it’s definitely worth stepping a little out of your way. The brewery is divided into two venues, the Tap Room and the Beer Hall. We visited the tap room as the larger beer hall was closed, but we weren’t disappointed! A cool open plan layout, sitting next to the fermentation vessels with a choice of 7 cask beers and 9 tap lines plus 3 ciders! The tap room also has a terrace overlooking the River Foss, which would be the perfect sun trap for a cold one on those summer afternoons.

The upstairs Beer Hall boasts over 40 taps, more than any other bar in York and the surrounding areas, plus they have a kitchen serving street food, the perfect accompaniment to their vast choice of beers. We’ll definitely be back to try it out when it’s back open and Covid-19 is a distant memory!

Evil Eye

We unfortunately ran out of time before we were able to check out Evil Eye. This one will no doubt entice all of you gin lovers out there, as this shop holds the world record for the biggest range of gins. It’s not just a gimmick either, they actually have a Guinness World Record!

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Honestly, that would be reason enough for most to check out Evil Eye, but hidden behind the shop is their bar, which specialises in quirky cocktails that some regard as the best in York. Apparently, Johnny Depp once came in for a quick drink while filming Charlie and the chocolate Factory nearby, and we can’t imagine he’d be ok with a bad cocktail so they must be good!

Geared towards a big Saturday night out rather than a chilled afternoon drink, Evil Eye is one of the coolest and most popular bars to check out in York.

Shambles Tavern

The Shambles is a medieval shopping street that is affectionately known as the ‘Harry Potter Street’.  It was thought to be one of the inspirations behind Diagon Alley in JK Rowling’s much-loved story. Although she has apparently denied this, it’s easy to see why people might draw a connection. When you walk down the narrow, cobbled street with its timber framed, 500-year-old buildings looming over you on either side, you do get the feeling you’ve stepped into the wizarding world.

The street is lined with cafes, boutique shops and (obviously) Harry Potter themed gift shops. Our pick of the bunch though is the Shambles Tavern. We saw their ‘Wall of Ales’ through the window and couldn’t resist!

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Sourced almost exclusively from the best Yorkshire based breweries, Shambles Tavern has a selection of over 120 local beers, as well as their own Shambles Light, Dark, Bitter and cider on cask. Needless to say, we were in our element.

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The Wall of Ale is the star of the show, but don’t worry if beer isn’t your thing. With over 30 local gins from Yorkshire distilleries, you’re sure to find something you like! They also proudly serve a locally sourced, award winning food menu too.

We think Harry, Ron and the lads would have been in here for a swift one or two after dropping the kids off at Hogwarts!!

Ye Olde Starre Inn

The oldest pub in York! Ye Olde Starre Inn was reportedly opened in 1644 and has been serving ever since. The pub is well known for its large, 18th-century sign which hangs across the medieval street of Stonegate.

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As you might expect, today Ye Olde Starre Inn is one of York’s most character-filled pubs, and there are a lot of those so that’s saying something! Plus, it has a great view of York Minster too.

Serving up traditional real ales from local breweries as well as a menu filled with pub classics, if old school pubs are what you like, this is the place for you!

So those are our top picks for 5 bars you need to visit in York. Don’t worry though if these don’t quite do it for you. York has such an array of great watering holes that we couldn’t possibly fit them all into one post. Looks like, we’ll have to head back to do some more research! Well if you insist...

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