“We couldn’t resist their best-seller, the Passionfruit Porn Star Martini, it had to be done “

Be At One

Hopbunker, Cardiff
Hopbunker, Cardiff

Launched in London in the ‘90’s by three seasoned bartenders who were disillusioned with the plethora of cocktail bars that focussed more on style than substance, Be At One’s founding principle of a huge list of quality cocktails continues to be at the heart of what they do.

Also part of the deal is great service and a party atmosphere, both of which featured prominently in our visit to their newest bar, in Cardiff city centre. It’s bright and welcoming with Greenwich Village boho chic décor of bare walls and distressed wood. It was a heaving Friday night and the staff could be forgiven for being wired but no, they were enjoying themselves as much as the punters and were happy to talk through some of the 160 cocktails on the menu.

We couldn’t resist their best-seller, the Passionfruit Porn Star Martini, it had to be done and it’s a worthy best seller. And being a fan of a good Old Fashioned, I really enjoyed the Absolut Gangster which uses vodka rather than whisky but with the same ingredients. The star of the night though was a gorgeous Popster - made with real popcorn, ice cream and butterscotch schnapps, it’s difficult to decide whether it’s sweet or savoury. For those who prefer beer there’s a good bottled selection.

Prices are at the top end, as you’d expect of somewhere that uses premium brands, so Be At One’s app is worth downloading to take advantage of excellent offers. Regardless of this though, it’s worth every penny thanks to its winning combination of fun, service and great cocktails.

Be At One, 60-62 St Mary St, Cardiff CF10 1FE

029 2010 0557

The foyer of The Hopbunker is a serious-looking place. As you descend the stairs, walls of battleship grey and office regulation carpet seem odd for a pub.

But it’s soon obvious that you have found somewhere serious about beer. Not just any old beer, though: you could be forgiven for not recognising many - most, perhaps - of the names on offer. There are 15 hand-pulled ales on the front bar, and a selection of local independent ciders and world beers in the back. A small, cosy space, The Hopbunker is a place for grown-up drinkers.

Craft ales are no longer the exclusive preserve of CAMRA members, even though the pub has just won their local Ale Pub of the Year award. More and more young people are prepared to explore the world of quality beers, with young women in particular heading straight for hoppy ales.

You won’t find lurid neon hues in bottles, or massproduced bland megabrand lagers. What’s on offer here is a real craft ale experience. Although The Hopbunker champions its own Hopcraft beers and local brewers, guest ales from all over the world from Chile to Germany and further afield make an appearance. The range, which changes every few days, will have serious beer enthusiasts in hop heaven. For untapped users, it’s all your festive celebrations come at once. Prices, too, are very keen: although The Hopbunker might belong in Westgate Street’s ‘craft ale quarter’ in spirit, you won’t be remortgaging or selling a kidney to buy a round, with most coming in at well under £4 a pint.

With a Social Club which takes in brewery visits, The Hopbunker is clearly not content to sit on its laurels. It’s a place with one brief: to sell good beer at its best. In that sense it’s a serious place, a proper ‘boozer’. Good beer, good choice, at a good price. Seriously good.

Hopbunker, 5-7 Queen Street, Cardiff

Hopbunker