It was a sad day yesterday as one of my colleagues, Philip, who I’ve worked with for eight years, and was an integral part of our team as well as a mate, completed his last day with the company. It would have been remiss of us to let him escape without a proper send off and so last night we were city bound for some farewell drinks.
Our first port of call was Madison’s on Botanic Avenue. It was a fully fledged winter’s night and so it was wonderful to step inside and be welcomed by a warm and truly festive interior. The Christmas decorations twinkled as the tables around us filled up with Christmas parties getting a head start on the festive celebrations. On Fridays (and indeed the rest of the week except Saturdays) Madison’s offer a fantastic happy hour with cocktails priced from £3, and so this was definitely a good spot to start our evening. My cocktails of choice were the Room 1886 and the Razztini. Both were fruity, refreshing and full of flavour.
Once we drunk up, it was time for the next stop on our farewell tour: The Apartment. This is a brilliant venue to visit at this time of year. With a fantastic view of the City Hall and the Christmas Market, it is hard not to feel yourself getting into the Christmas spirit, even if it is still only November.
After a while people were starting to feel peckish and so our next stop was across the road to the aforementioned Christmas Market. I made a beeline for the German Sausage stall and ordered a Bratwurst. When I was handed my order, which I added lashings of ketchup too, I couldn’t wait to get stuck in. It smelt amazing and tasted even better and at £5 it was super reasonable as it was delicious and very filling.
Stomachs full we then made our way to the newest addition to Belfast’s hotel scene: Bullitt. Located on Church Lane, the hotel, which was developed by the Beannchor Group, features the Taylor and Clay restaurant, as well as three bars; the Bullitt Bar, the courtyard bar and our destination, Northern Ireland’s first ski themed bar, aptly named Baltic. With skis adorning the roof and videos of skiers gliding down snowy mountains, this trendy bar really makes you feel as if you have left Belfast behind and escaped on an impromptu holiday to the slopes. As if that was not cool enough, I also got to see that picture of Steve McQueen which made headlines in October when two women attempted to steal the six foot picture from the hotel. Thankfully they failed as the picture, from the movie Bullitt, from which the hotel takes its name, is a fabulous focal point in the venue and I couldn’t resist getting a picture with it.
Our next stop was another new addition to Belfast: Granny Annie’s. Formerly known as Victoria’s, the venue has been completely refurbished. It was jam packed with people who were enjoying the live band who were covering a great mix of songs, from Ed Sheeran to Tina Turner. The bar staff are very professional and even though it was busy, they kept their cool and were very welcoming and courteous.
The final venue in our trek across the city was Aether and Echo, located on Lower Garfield Street. From the team behind Love & Death Inc., this original and creative venue has generated a great buzz in the city. I have dined here in the past, and had a thoroughly enjoyable experience, however I had not frequented the nightclub before. When we arrived it was quiet, however before long it started to fill up and before we knew it, it was packed with punters wanting to dance their way into the weekend. With a cool mix of music, I definitely recommend this as a venue for those looking to bust a move or two.
After trekking from one end of the city centre to the other, it was time to call it a night. Whilst it was exceptionally sad to say our official farewell to Philip, it was nice to explore Belfast, visit some of the city’s newest venues and make some new memories before saying goodbye. And the good thing about our wee city is that it is always changing and evolving and so before long I know there will a new venue to visit giving us the perfect excuse to arrange a catch up!