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Bar Essentials: The Little Grapes

What's black and white and red all over? A little gem in Roscoe Street with a slice of cucumber

Published on September 20th 2010.


Bar Essentials: The Little Grapes
What's the story?
A freehouse and a tenanted pub on and off down the years, The Grapes, on the corner of Knight Street, is a mere spit roast from Chinatown, and just far enough off the beaten track, downhill from Ye Cracke, to have retained its dignity. To any serious drinkers planning a rendezvous, it is known as the Little Grapes, simply to make the distinction between it, Peter Kavanagh's and the Mathew Street Grapes.

Built in 1785, it is almost as enduring as the world's oldest Chinese community around the corner. It is now owned by Punch Taverns, but don't make the mistake of thinking this is just another grimly faceless chain pub with fixtures, fittings and layout designed by a computer programme.

If it were it wouldn't be so red: red lights, red seats and red stained glass abound. Unless Punch has branched out into bordellos without telling anyone, and someone back in the office enthusiastically clicked the wrong button when they were sending the corporate decorators in.

Perhaps the “raffish” touches are down to licensees Anna Slater and Paul Agoro, ex teachers, who, fresh back from Chile, took the tiny watering hole over in 2003 and gave it a new leasehold of life.

Who goes there?
These days, people of all ages. Musicians, artists, hardened drinkers, the odd student, and a lot of local residents who have perhaps tired of the alternatives within striking distance. “Typically, very interesting people come here,” says barperson Jim.

What's the crack?
It's a warm and safe-feeling little bolt-hole where nobody appears to bother you, if that's what you want. And yet, there are no shortage of takers if you need a conversation at the bar. Just the place to go blowing into on a cold night, it also has one of the world's tiniest beer gardens, a verdant back yard which is perfect to hide out in on summer days. It's a gin palace too (more in a moment) with something happening almost every night of the week.

Open until 1am, Sunday to Thursday, and weekends later, it doesn't even smell of disinfectant.

What's yours?
Namely, ten green bottles, all of them gin, plus seven kinds of rum, three real ales including Cains and Jennings, unusual bottles of flavoured beers and all the usual lagers. Jim, a web designer and video producer from Connecticut, who is undergoing transgender treatment (not the chap in the right of the picture, below), informs us that punters travel there for the quality of the Guinness (£2.85). It was good, to be sure.

The speciality of the house, however, is a very classy little number. Take a Hendrick's gin, already infused with cucumber and rose petal essences, serve it up in a tall glass with lots of tonic and ice. For the slice? Cucumber of course. Delicious, different and refreshing, and just £3.75. Next time you are off out on a posh restaurant trip, stop by here first and treat yourself to one, or two, as an aperitif. With the money you save on Hope Street G&Ts, you'll be able to stretch to a pudding.

Entertainment?
Lots. Thursday it's Cuban salsa live music, Friday it's a curry night with DJs - although not all at the same time. Saturday, more Djs playing funk, soul and ska, Sunday night it's latin jazz with Martin Smith Trumpet and pals playing cool vibes and packing them in until the small hours of Monday morning.

Verdict?
Grape expectations.

Where?
60 Roscoe Street
Liverpool, L1 2SX
0151 709 8617

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32 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

DigNovember 18th 2008.

I like the look of the entertainment. I'll definately be popping in 1 night. Thanks for the heads up Lord Street but I trust Liverpool Confidentials judgement. They always have excellent taste in the things they recommend. Know what I mean Angie? Ha. A lovely beer I've recently been introduced to is Erdinger White or Blonde. They have it in Thomas Rigbys. Not sure where else. I would guess The Fly in The Loaf does too. That's a drink I'd recommend anyway.

cheaperNovember 18th 2008.

than any other pub in the area which is why it attracted a broad cross-section of friendly regulars from television producers to carpet retailers, mechanics and musicians, artisans and artists, students and lecturers, actors and booksellers. They were all driven off years ago by tacky refurbishments and the huge price-rises imposed to pay for them. (Not to mention the ruffians each new management brought with them)

Lord StreetNovember 18th 2008.

Unfortunately not, Dig old man, the glass bucket in which Hoegaarden is served looks impressively huge but it's all thick glass. You can empty one into a standard pint glass without spillage.

BlumikNovember 18th 2008.

Here’s to the “Little Grapes”!!! Anna and Paul have to be congratulated for sticking at it out and bringing the place up to the high standard that it now – cos they inherited a bag o’ s**t as the the customer base deserted in droves under the previous regime. The live music is a real joy on Thursday and Sunday - you WILL shake that arse! - and the dj’s on Friday and Saturday have a great feel for what will go down to make you feel at home with at least a little wiggle ;-). Well worth a visit.

Paul PNovember 18th 2008.

This is a fabulous pub for the city center, one of the few places that does decent booze and really seems to have thought about the punters. Most pubs in town couldn't give a monkeys these days, and since the smoking ban, places like this really seem to have the edge. I like the fact that the crisps are in a little basket on the bar and the beer yard is lovely!

Stanley DockNovember 18th 2008.

your lordship , is there a chance of seeing you anywhere in town these days? last time i went there a chap behind the bar was bemused to discover that footie was on the telly these days and the beer! was dreadful!!!!!!

Lord StreetNovember 18th 2008.

Really Dig, you ought to be more choosy with your associates...

Professor ChucklebuttyNovember 18th 2008.

I can send you some Profzac it comes in slightly larger than the normal 25ml size to allow you to experience that continental fall slumped over the kitchen table experience. They will cost you though, as they come in a very expensive little carrying case with a hand painted miniature of Clemencau. Then the pharmaceutical companies whack on a great price hike which is passed onto the patient but you will no doubt blame me. If you want a cheaper option, I have a few old Tizer bottles filled with Largactil Syrup. let me know if you prefer Still or Sparkling.

Arthur GuinnessNovember 18th 2008.

I really think the Council should pass a by-law to remedy this apparent shortage of glasses in licensed premises. It’s not as if the drinks are any cheaper for this coarse privation! Whatever next? Will we be expected to sit on old crates and drink draught beer from our cupped hands?

LobsterNovember 18th 2008.

Those were in the dark days of Arthur. It's nice now, you can go back! The jazz on Sunday night is really good too.

EditorialNovember 18th 2008.

Apologies, Joan could you post your comments again. Slight technical mayhem.

DigNovember 18th 2008.

I was also going to add that you're smooth, full bodied and go down well but I didn't want to start all that Homotopia nonsense again!

Anne FieldNovember 18th 2008.

At least Lord Street didn't pinch my name, "Ann Field"!

DigNovember 18th 2008.

Traditional, foul-smelling, flat, sour-tasting ditchwater with no head. I've heard people describe you like that!

Lord StreetNovember 18th 2008.

Dig, you damn me with faint prise there...

watching with interestNovember 18th 2008.

thanks for the offer prof but its self medicating friday down at the local so i should be fine.

AnonymousNovember 18th 2008.

This is a great little place since it reinvented itself. I went with my boyfriend on the Sunday jazz night and it is just the way to end the weekend. Cool and chilling out

watching with interestNovember 18th 2008.

i to have been partial to the old mothers ruin from time to time so was thrilled with the gin menu at the grapes.since the cracke lost its craic my niece decided to have her birthday at the grapes.a really good night was had by all.

Ann FieldNovember 18th 2008.

Thank god Lord Street doesn't drink in the Grapes any more, that in itself is a good reason to drink there. Prices? Fairly average in my experience and many quality spirits are much cheaper in the Grapes than anywhere else in town! No its not the same as when Donna & Ritchie, or Arthur Ayo or Ingo or anyone else had it, so arrogant sods shouldn't judge it on it's past

AyCarmela!November 18th 2008.

Cracking little pub, with lovely clientele. Me!

AnonymousNovember 18th 2008.

Lord Street, I realise you are a pompous arsehole, but do you really have to sound like one in every single posting on here? Yes, and we lost India. Get over it!!

Professor ChucklebuttyNovember 18th 2008.

You missed out Wednesday night with Tom Slemen and his Tijuana Brass OuijaBoard. All the spirits are half price.

DigNovember 18th 2008.

I think I might just pop in there one night to check it out. Sounds an interesting little place. Not far from The Pilgrim, Ye Cracke and Hardman Street either. Also Lord Street doesn't drink there. Bonus. Only joking Lord Street old friend. I'll get you a pint if I see you.

mariaNovember 18th 2008.

I will give a try this weekned .. great idea of hendrix gin ....humm .. sounds delicius !!

Lord StreetNovember 18th 2008.

Couldn’t say, Dock old man! You know how hectic the old social diary is at this time of year what with birthdays, the new theatre and opera season and the festive season generally. Happily I’m spared the sort of squalid shindigs where a fellow is expected to drink lager from the bottle like an American tramp.

DigNovember 18th 2008.

That does seem expensive but I'm sure the glass was larger than a pint. I haven't drank Hoegaarden for quite a while so at the moment I have no point of reference if that's the goint rate these days. I'm guessing it is. £3.70 for an Erdinger and £3.95 for a Fruh in Thomas Rigbys on Monday before the Weller concert. That man cannot be 50! 100 mph for nearly 2 hours! Superb concert and night.

watching with interestNovember 18th 2008.

hoegaarden is served in a glass larger than a pint so we can experience that continental style large frothy head without falling foul of british licensing laws.they are expensive because they are imported in silly little barrels with lots of british tax wacked on the price.then sadly boozers that are tied to massive companys such as punch have then to buy the silly little barrels at prices dictated by greed.this price hike is then passed onto the public who sadly then blame the landlord.yasus dont know were feck that came all came from anyone got some prozac.

Lord StreetNovember 18th 2008.

Quite right!

woman from pilgrimNovember 18th 2008.

this is a great little boozer paul is a nice man and good manager. everytime i go in here i have a laugh and a good time.

DigNovember 18th 2008.

I did stand up for you. I claimed you're much more like a proper northern pint. Warm and bubbly with a really big head and very gassy.

DigNovember 18th 2008.

Nice little friendly place. Chatted to nice bargirl and lad at bar. Good music on the stereo, unfortunately had to leave before the live latin jazz band came on as I was driving and hungry. The Hoegaarden was delicious too. Worth every penny of the £3.95 a go. Will definately be going back to check out the live music one night. Nice one LC.

DigNovember 18th 2008.

Prozac? Largactil? Easier cheaper option is to just cheer the **** up. Or have a beer or 2. As the great poet Homer once wrote, 'Beer, the cause, and solution to all of lifes problems.

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