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Real ale, craft beers and cider are synonymous with England but cocktails and wine are kings too, in happening city bars often in old buildings converted into sleek contemporary spaces. 

1. Colonna & Smalls, Bath

Always a favourite with seasonal coffees from around the world brewed with passion and served as espresso or filter (drink it black for the full flavour). Also in town, Colonna and Hunter, 14-15 Milsom Place, for brunch, lunch and craft beers as well as coffee.

2. Sub13, Bath

Just the place for a nightcap, this is a favourite cocktail bar in Bath, now also with a Perrier-Jouet Champagne Bar. Mixology, bubbly, DJs for cool sounds and dancing – Sub13 opens 5pm to 12am Monday to Wednesday, until 1am Thursday and 3am, Friday and Saturday.

3. The Draper’s Arms, Bristol

For purists, this independent micropub – no brewing onsite – goes back to basics specialising only in real ales and farmhouse ciders, no spirits, lagers, fizzy ciders or Guinness!  Bristol is a craft beer-loving city with many pubs and drinking places such as The Beer Emporium.

4. The Milk Thistle, Bristol

Cocktail-lovers look no further than this bar, lounge and meeting space in an impressive historic building. Changing cocktail menu, standards, wine, champagne and a handful of craft beers. Milk Thistle is the sister of Hyde & Co Bristol’s prohibition speakeasy also specialising in cocktails. 

5. The Fleece Inn, Worcestershire

The UK’s only National Trust pub dates from the 15th century and is atmospheric with beams and flagstones. Remarkably it remained in the same family until 1977. Real ale enthusiasts delight in drops including Uley Brewery Pig’s Ear; The Ark is the pub’s own cider. 

6. The Yellow Canary, Cornwall

There are many cafes in St Ives, but regulars return to the Yellow Canary for coffee from Cornish roaster Origin. The owner blends seasonal coffees according to regular customer tastes, to be enjoyed with (or without) breakfast, cakes and pastries, crab sandwiches, Cornish cream teas.

7. Bean Shot, Somerset

The brainchild of Australian Nick Law, Bean Shot is an artisan coffee roaster with a café so you can enjoy the results first-hand, trying different blends. Close to the renowned Hauser and Wirth Gallery, Bean Shot also sells coffee-making equipment and holds barista classes.

8. Gylly Beach Café, Cornwall

Right on Gyllyngvase Beach, this contemporary cafe is a place for any time of day to enjoy coffee and a freshly-baked brownie or two, lunch, afternoon tea and, as day morphs into evening, dinner, drinks and maybe laid-back live music. 

9. New Brewery Arts Cafe, Cirencester

This former brewery from the 1820’s has been transformed into an arts centre, complete with gallery and craft centre and a café for, breakfast, lunch and tea. Enjoy Teapigs special teas, certified Forest Alliance English breakfast tea and fairtrade coffee from Wiltshire’s Bespoke Coffee.

10. Time for tea

Most tearooms serve Devonshire-style cream teas and you can enjoy ‘proper’ afternoon tea in many surroundings. The Regency Tea Room at the Jane Austen Museum, Bath; the cosy, character-filled Well Walk Tea Room, Cheltenham; The Scarlet Champagne Afternoon Tea at the Scarlet Hotel, Cornwall.