I was considering what would constitute my ideal bar. Welcoming, independent, intimate, classy but not pretentious. Quality wine, oh and good music, (but not so loud I have to shout over it, because I’m 36 now after all). This may be why I have rather fallen in love with this hidden gem, just off the beaten track, yet just a stone’s throw away from the main restaurant and bar scene. Bacchus Wine & Cocktail Bar is situated on Station Parade in Harrogate.
There is simply no where else like it in Harrogate. They serve over 40 wines by the glass alongside craft beers, and have just launched an extensive cocktail menu. You can expect G&Ts carefully created using bitters, liqueurs and garnishes, but at Bacchus, like anything there, you just describe your ideal concoction, and the chances are that it will appear before you in a matter of minutes.
Of course, you can pop in for a glass of wine and sit quietly in the comfy seats watching the world go by, but the magic at Bacchus for me is in the experience. They offer 75ml glasses, so you have the option to experiment. This independent bar is run by sommelier Jesper Callisen. After just two meetings I have affectionately christened him the walking encyclopedia of wines. Jesper is one of the reasons Bacchus is just so special. His knowledge and passion are incredible. The bar has been described to me as a playground for wine, spirit and cocktail lovers and I think that describes it just perfectly.
Bacchus is the kind of place where you learn snippets each time you pop in. On my last visit, I learned they serve white wine in three different glasses depending on the structure and style of the wine. The specific shape can aid the wine drinker in picking up every aroma of the wine. They love to dispel the myths. I thought I liked Chablis but disliked Chardonnay, when actually all Chablis is made from Chardonnay grapes. How Pinot Gris is the same grape as Pinot Grigio, Pinot Gris is just allowed to ripen more, so is less acidic and more aromatic, often sweeter.
Halfway through my second glass, Jesper brought some dusty old bottles out to show me from his ‘collection of wonders’. These included an 1820 bottle of Cognac sourced from a castle with a hand scrawled label and a collector’s bottle of Whiskey from the 1950s, which was last known to retail for around £400, which would normally make it £60 a shot, however, you can sample these wonders at Bacchus from around £8. Whether you’ve popped in to spend £5 or £250, you’re greeted with the same warm welcome, and there is no snobbery about your wine knowledge. They love educating you on your drink (should you wish to learn more about it).
If you’re feeling peckish, they serve a delicious Charcuterie, Marinated Olives, Melted and Scorched Camembert and a cheese board sourced from The Cheeseboard (a local specialty cheese store in Harrogate). Did I mention they also do a cheese pairing flight from £19.95? This is served 2.00-6.00pm every Saturday, but they will try to accommodate you any time as long as they are not too busy.
They offer regular wine tastings and events, as well as private tastings to suit various budgets. These are casual, fun and informative. Perfect for beginners and connoisseurs alike.
If I sound passionate about this bar, it’s because I am. It would be rude not to visit again soon to continue my education.
Bacchus Wine & Cocktail bar
90 Station Parade,
Harrogate HG1 1HQ
Tel. 01423 503184