Tuesday, 5 February 2013


Bramleys is one of my favourite night time haunts in Canterbury. Located inside the Odd Fellows Hall, one of Canterbury's historic buildings on Orange Street near the Marlowe Theatre;  if you don't know it is there you are liable to walk right past it.  Once you find the small, inconspicuous door you walk down the dim corridor with the art deco wall paper and lanterns into an inviting open space frequented by a crowd who are relaxed and easy going.
Bramley's is a vintage themed cocktail bar with mismatched shabby chic furniture, the lovingly nicknamed duvet ceiling, large rustic tables with candles oozing wax, beaten wooden floorboards, bookcases and vintage sewing machines, tasseled floor lamps with a soft glow, a grand piano and an organ.  There is even a pool table for the more energetic.
The draw of Bramley's is varied.  The cocktail menu is to die for, bought to your table when ready and two-for-one before 8pm.  This last fact can be dangerous.  Last Saturday there were 8 girls on our table and 32 separate cocktails at one point.  I am prepared to concede that we *may* have gotten a little carried away.  Be prepared to wait for your drinks though; they can take up to 15 minutes to arrive at your table depending on how many people got their orders in before you. The bar staff are friendly and I always end up admiring their fashion sense.  The bartender channeling 1920's street urchin at the weekend was particularly funky.
The music is varied, eclectic with just enough songs that you recognise without being distracted by lots of people feeling the need to sing along at the tops of their lungs.  There is also no dance floor although this does not stop people who feel inspired to move their bodies to whichever track happens to be playing.
I also like the Bramley's door policy.  They tend to fill the place up to the point where all the seats are taken and a few people are standing but it is never, ever rammed.  This also means that it is easy to get served at the bar, you never have to fight your way or get your elbows out or even queue at the ladies toilets (I can't speak for the gents!).  However the flip side of this means that if you are not there by 9.30pm it is more often than not one in, one out.
Drinks are reasonable - cocktails are around the £6 mark, so two-for-one before 8pm is particularly good value for money.  I love their Margarita's, but their Honey Daiquiri's, High and Dry's and Brambles are also highly recommended. Take your time perusing the chalk board cocktail menu's on the table.  Look out for the Alice in Wonderland pictures on the paper menus as well.  Bramleys have a good bar selection of wines, beers and spirits if you prefer.  I'm not an ale drinker but I hear that they do a good selection of those as well...
I must confess that I have never eaten at Bramleys although I do think that they serve food at lunch time.  If you are visiting Canterbury I highly recommend coming here on a Friday or Saturday night.  Just make sure you get there early...

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