Una Bar Review
Brighton’s bars can get packed on Friday nights but, after a long week of work, I want to relax and unwind rather than elbow my way to the bar. Tucked away on Regency Square, Una Bar provides such a sanctuary. This boutique escape is the perfect place for a romantic evening, pre/post -dinner drinks or a quality catch-up with a friend. Which is exactly what I did last week.
Escape and unwind
Meeting my friend Ella on the square, we entered Hotel Una at street level. The intimate public bar has a choice of bar stools or comfy leather seating, with soft background music and gentle lighting. Below ground, there’s a new (soon-to-open) speakeasy, which those in-the-know can enter through a secret door.
Taking a seat at the main bar, Ella and I met the super-friendly Italian Bar Manager, Piedro. He talked us through their seasonally-changing menu, which features everything from martinis and sours to a Freida Kahla inspired creation. Depending on how deep your pockets are, you could splurge £260 on a bottle of champagne or spend £8.50 on a classic Mojito. They also offer unusual aged cocktails like their barrel-matured negroni.
Hotel Una’s signature drink concept is ‘Aqua Vita.’ Tell Piedro how your day’s been and which flavours you like best, and he’ll create a cocktail that’s unique to you. Even better, you can give your drink a name and write in the ‘Aqua Vita’ book so that, next time you visit, you can order it straight up.
I’d had a tough week, so Piedro insisted on a rum-based drink. “Rum equals fun,” he explained. To create my Aqua Vita, he mixed 75.5% overproof spiced rum with homemade chilli syrup, pineapple juice and a pipette of grapefruit bitters. It was finished with star anise and a flaming lime. It was expertly balanced and exactly what I needed – Piedro is clearly a cocktail genius. I named it ‘Smouldering Embers’ for its lingering chilli warmth.
Cosmo in the clouds
Ella started with an Una Bar twist: Cosmo in the Clouds. Their own take on a Cosmopolitan, it was a blend of citrus vodka, rhubarb liqueur, Cointreau, orange bitters and lime juice, with a fluffy egg-white top. Finished with homemade pomegranate and pimento syrup, it tasted like a tube of Refreshers. When she took her first sip, the smile on Ella’s face told me she approved.
Half an hour later, it was Ella’s turn for an Aqua Vita. After telling Piedro about her favourite flavours, he selected a miniature glass urn and chilled it on a bed of ice. In a cocktail shaker, he blended amaretto and gin, balancing sweet rose
syrup with homemade citric acid. Presented with a scattering of rosebuds, we christened it ‘Ella Rose.’
My second drink of the evening was a Sassy Sour. It was made with Licor 43, blood orange vodka, prosecco and pink grapefruit juice. A complete contrast to Ella’s rose-tinged Aqua Vita, this juicy short had a subtle bitter undertone and a clean vodka kick.
With the stresses of the week melting away, we decided to go for one more round. We both love gin, so we chose two different options from the menu. I went for a classic Bramble which, Piedro told me, is one of his personal favourites. A blend of Beefeater gin, lemon juice, syrup and crème de cassis, it was served over lots of crushed ice and had delicious blackberry depths.
Ella chose ‘Ginny Hendrix’. A more complex blend of Hendrix gin, elderberry liqueur, Fiorente (elderflower), muddled cucumber, rhubarb bitters and fresh lemon juice. It was garnished with cucumber and smoked star anise. Lighter and longer than my Bramble, the refreshing layers of cucumber and elderflower really came through.
A cut above the rest
A boutique hideaway serving bespoke drinks, Una is a world away from Brighton’s rowdier bars. The craftsmanship you get here is streaks above your average drinking hole, and the care and attention we received from the bar staff is something we just wouldn’t get in a busier bar.
During the wobble home, Ella and I mused over which drinks we enjoyed the most, trying to pick between our Aqua Vitas, classic twists and in-house signatures. If you want to escape the city hubbub and savour truly quality cocktails, Bar Una should be on your list. And if you’d had a long, hard week, remember to ask for ‘Smouldering Embers’.See the listing for Una Bar Brighton