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Five bars ... with a backyard oasis

It's hot in the city, so where do you imbibe when you get a shade thirsty?

Written by . Published on June 27th 2011.

Five bars ... with a backyard oasis

You know what it's like. The sun is shining, you are in a good mood. It gets to going home time and you suddenly remember you came into work on the bus or train.

Wee tincture? Just the one? Oh go on.

It's an impromptu sort of occasion, the kind that says in a provocative text to your friends: “I have a pass out” - and not “I passed out” which is the preserve of the amateur drinker's status on Facebook.

And unless you are a Slater Street regular who starts at 11am, you don't want to be in the dark. Dark drinking dens are for people whose way to the bar is lit by their big, red, boozer's nose.

We are talking good day sunshine here and secret little outdoor spots rather than a ciggie table outside the pub, next to a bus stop.

So where's good for flora, fauna and having a furtive few while in the fresh air?

Cuthbert's Bakehouse, 103 Mount Pleasant, Liverpool L2 5TB

Right now, this is strictly the daytime choice of imbibement as it closes at 5.30pm, but there are plans afoot to extend Cuthbert's opening hours to around 7pm-9pm, helped by the news that this venue has recently obtained a licence to serve intoxicating liquor.

Cuthbert's Mount PleasantCuthbert's, Mount PleasantCuthbert's is certainly the most genteel establishment Confidential has visited in a while. We have listed it because it has a pretty suntrap in the back, with lots of new plantings in the ground to make it better in time.

You reach it through an interior that would make Cath Kidson weep with joy, but that's another story for another day.

Cuthbert's opened in February and makes cakes, lots of lovely cakes. Cup, trickle, loaf, whoopie and tart. Right there in the basement bakery. We had the signature orange drizzle cake (£1.90, £1.70 takeaway), a huge slab of moist delectability which was as light as air. They do sandwiches and afternoon teas too.

Hmmm. Cheeky glass or two of Prosecco with that? What the hell, nobody will ever think of looking for you in here.

Ye Cracke, Rice Street, Liverpool L1.

Like Cuthbert's, the interior of Ye Cracke would also make Cath Kidson weep, but for entirely different reasons.

As a long established watering hole for the mad, bad and dangerous to know, since way before John Lennon drank there, Ye Cracke's main attraction has always been its yard and no study of this subject would be complete without mention.

Ye Cracke: 'Buzzing'Ye Cracke: 'Buzzing'The residents of Hope Place must not be disturbed after dark,  once a prerequisite of the characters who drank there. But these days Ye Cracke's customers are a buzzy lot from all walks of life. You can just about understand why there is a curfew. Just.

This, therefore, is one to enjoy before dusk. A pint of something cask wonderful and a packet of pork scratchings is as far as it goes on the food and drink front. Not forgetting those heady plant aromas....

But the question is how far will you have gone, under that mature topiary, by the time they order you to “get in, will yer and get out of that soddin' tree”.

The Grapes, Roscoe Street, L1.

The Grapes, Roscoe StreetThe Grapes, Roscoe StreetIf you can't stand the heat of Ye Cracke and all those people, just around the corner is a very pleasant alternative.

Grapes owner Ann Marie has tended the city's smallest beer garden with the same care as the rest of the venue she took over, just a few years ago, as a “failing pub”. Buckets and baskets tumble with flowers from high and low. Vines tangle themselves around gates.

This is the place for small groups and one-to-ones, as the few tables, tend to only accommodate two or three people. As the sun goes down you will have put the world to rights in this blissful tiny haven that is your secret garden.

Well up till now anyway. A COLOSSAL wing of Liverpool Community College has just been built next door promising hundreds of student customers. Congratulations Little Grapes, you deserve it. And may your tills runneth over with two-pence pieces come September.

Courtyard, Rigby's/Lady of Mann pubs, Dale Street, L2

The so-called business district of Liverpool is strangely starved of outdoor drinking opportunities, bar this and The Cornmarket on Fenwick Street. The latter is the more hidden, but it does look up at the pretty vile piece of architecture that is the Corn Exchange,  and if you happen to work in there, it's going to be off limits anyway, unless you want your boss studying your comb-over from the 6th floor. Also, its selection of alcoholic beverages and food is less extensive than its Dale Street rival(s).  

RigbysThis, then, is the den of choice in L2 because it is practically the only public courtyard in Liverpool, and therefore a babbling businesslike place to be on a warm day or night. Very EC1. Moorfields station is just next door. And that sounds like Moorgate. 

Pretend you are in the City of London by whacking drinks for the whole office on your imaginary fat cat bonus. It's that sort of vibe on the York stone flags amid the hanging baskets. Then later on catch the train home to Seaforth and Litherland, not forgetting two paracetamol before bed and to stick the chinos in the wash for your mum after Leanne from sales, well....

It's going to be a long day tomorrow with that sore head. Really long, it's June.

The Clove Hitch, 23 Hope Street, L1.

“Where's that, in Notts?”, one wag on twitter asked when we said we were in The Clove Hitch, breakfasting on Hope, this Monday morning.

“What's the twine list like?” they persisted. “A bit ropey,” was the reply. But, of course, it isn't.

This is another establishment (main picture, top) where the al fresco arrangements define it. You can do anything in this Georgian town garden: Have a full English breakfast, which is served until 1pm, a large gin and tonic or both together. Anything goes.

The Clove Hitch brunch menu is the most comprehensive we have come across in Liverpool. Porridge, pancakes, veggie versions, granolas, gammon and eggs and everything scrambled in between. Seven days a week from 10am.

Mmm, G&T now or in a bit?Mmm, G&T now or in a bit?We had the Broadway breakfast (£6.50) streaky bacon over pancakes with maple syrup, barbecued beans, a fried egg and an excellent homemade hash brown. A real American diner experience, but with tweetie birdies in the trees.

Over the way a group of college teachers weren't bothered with food. No, they were downing jugs of Pimms like there was no tomorrow, let alone a lecture to take at 2pm.

Facing east and surrounded by handsome period houses, this is sunshine city until about 4pm, but having visited at 10.30 in the evening too, when the fairy lights are twinkling and the patio heaters are on, this gets our vote as the city centre's classiest, round-the-clock, outdoor drinking gem.

Did we mention they even have a barbecue? If you ask,  they may even spark it up. Go on, all you've got to do is go up to them and say "Burger me". Honest.

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AnonymousJune 28th 2011.

My 5 would be The Marina bar, Heebies, Santa Chupito's, The Peacock & Cross Keys. When I click on the 'post as' box it drops down into the 'explore the site' section and I can't type my name. Dig.

EditorialJune 28th 2011.

Sorry about that Dig. We also like the roof terrace at Mataou restaurant on the Pier Head, the only place where you can now see the Three Graces from this side of the water.

AnonymousJune 28th 2011.

Not tried there, yet. Can you just go for a drink or do you have to eat? I thought it was just a restaurant. Dig

Absinthe & TurksJuly 1st 2011.

"Hash brown"? For breakfast? But they are made of fat and toenails!
I take it that the streaky bacon was hovering "over" the pancakes then?.

As the Probe Records Boozemap used to say, real pubs don't sell food. This isn't even an honest to goodness fry up!

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