Liked this place a lot. Went in, asked for a "Kettle One Up, Dirty, Extra Olive" and the guy knew exactly what I was after.
It's a martini bar. If you've been to similar vodka bars in New York or London, they tend to appeal to folks looking for ambiance and a bit of privacy. Yes, it doesn't have the feel of a pub, there aren't bags of peanuts clipped to a wooden mast on one end of the bar. Instead, there is curvacious woodwork, subdued lighting, and a very very intimate place to meet 'that special someone'. Definitely coming back!
On the higher price side. Definitely look sharp or expect to find sharp looking people.
This place really didn't float my boat. There wasn't anything in particular that was wrong with it, it just had that sterile, impersonal feel of a hotel bar, which in essence is exactly what it is. And in Brighton, there are so many better options that have a bit of character - Valentino's just across the road for example.
The bar is long and straight, and while I don't mind waiting to be served, I do at least like to be acknowledged. This didn't happen. I ordered the Warsaw Pact which was actually pretty tasty but my friend ordered a gin mojito which looked like it was being served in the bottom half of the cocktail shaker - had they run out of clean glasses??
The clientele seemed to consist mainly of estate agents, bankers and women on the look-out for a rich husband - not your average Brighton regular!
I probably won't be rushing back.
Watery images playing across video screens and futuristic floral displays give myhotel's Merkaba Bar a hip, postmodern sophistication.
With an unrivaled drinks menu serving classic and contemporary cocktails even the fussiest of drinkers is sure to find something that they will love. The bar staff all appear to be extremely experienced mixoligists with an extensive knowledge of spirits and cocktail science. When I was stuck on what drink to order the barmaid serving me (I think her name was Emma) asked me questions about what kind of drinks I like and made a mouthwatering rum & ginger cocktail called Admiral Theroux - order it!!!
What is it about hotel bars that have that extra something special?
We came here on a recommendation from the Blanch House barman (where we'd been to dinner). Blanch House, another hotel in Brighton, is fabulous - but hardly lively.
Merkaba is at the opposite end of the scale. After struggling a little with Google Maps to find this place, we walked in and were at first distracted by the restaurant to the right hand side (which could be mistaken for a bar). But in the end, realised that the huge crowd of people probably signified something a little more substantial round the corner.
With wall to wall plasma screens covering the space behind the bar, the patterned display drew us in with almost hypnotic quality. The first barman we approached took one look at us and said 'I can't make cocktails at this station, try down the end'. Fair enough...
We went down to the other end of the bar and didn't have to wait long till being served. I had a blood and sand (whiskey-based) and Michelle had a mojito. Both were divine, though mine is now my new favourite drink it was that good.
We stood around for a while chatting, I eventually sat at the one the uber-comfortable stools at one of the long tables in front of the bar and looked around. As I noticed the giant crystal embedded into one wall, fish tank at the other, people started to drift out. The atmosphere became a lot less frantic, and we relaxed.
Having had only three hours sleep the night before, we were exhausted, so skipped home pretty early. However, I could have stayed longer once the crowds of screaming 'ladies' had left. Probably best on our wallets that we didn't however...
Merkaba is part of the Myhotel in on Jubilee Street in central Brighton. Although its part of a hotel chain the bar is worth visit as the venue is really unique and in a different league to other bars in the North Lanes. Its attempting to attract the great and the good of Brighton, its uber swish decor looks straight out of Star Trek with metallic walls and orb fish bowls.
Its a great spot for special events or occasions as it has the atmosphere if a central London celeb hot spot, which of course entails amazing cocktails! At the weekend they have DJs giving it a more club vibe. Its deffo worth popping in as its so refreshingly different from the pubs and bars in that area, but don't wear jeans and be prepared to pay for the privilege.
Merkaba is one of the better Brighton cocktail bars, housed in the enigmatic, feng shui house of holies that is the MyHotel. While the prices are truly extortionate, and the clientele a bit... difficult to stomach (see below), Merkaba more than makes up for it with its exceptional selection and gorgeous design, making it a great place for a night out, depending on how big your pocketbook is.
Merkaba has a great reputation as a hidden gem, scurried away as it is through the MyHotel lobby. Most people don't even realise it is there, making it a hot spot to see and bee seen: also its biggest problem, but we'll get to that later. Once you're through the hotel lobby, the bar is luxurious: long, wide, and serving all imaginable spirits and cocktails. You have to see it for yourself, you can order nigh-on anything and they will have it. The design is quite alienating at first, being designed to be completely feng shui (you think I'm joking... I'm not... Brighton's a funny place), but after a while does seem rather relaxing and pleasant. If it isn't busy, Merkaba is a wonderful place to chill out... and one of the few places where I feel that phrase is totally appropriate.
However, the 'chill' factor retreats as the menu comes out: all drinks are ludicrously expensive, similar in price to Valentino's down the road, but with none of the charm: I can't imagine a situation where I'd get money off in Merkaba. As well as that, the crowd that forms weekends and some weekday evenings is just awful. As Merkaba is a bit hidden away, it has become the stomping ground for Brighton's over-exuberant nouvelle-riche crowd, and as such everyone in there is ridiculously posh, and often a bit laddish too: a poor combination when alcohol is involved. I haven't seen any fights, but it's just a little aggressive sometimes. Combine that with the Brighton 'celebrity' scene, which often drinks here, and it all becomes a bit too much. If it's too busy, I don't go in (or at least, stay for long).
It doesn't beat Valentino's for charm, but Merkaba is a fantastic bar and well deserves a visit. They'll have your drink, I can almost guarantee it, and you'll have a great evening, as long as you just got paid and it isn't too busy.
The seductive and vibrant merkaba exudes luxury and decadence. The curving walls, aquariums and the 10m long gold bar attracts cocktail lovers who are happy to pay for quality. And the expert mixologists not only craft brilliance, the cocktails come at nearly twice the size of most Brighton measures. Top choices are the Jade Garden, Bitted and Twisted, and the slightly manlier Dry Sidecar. But if you want to go for the big-time, at £80 the mother of all cocktails, myPunch comes in a massive bowl and the sheer volume can serve upto six people, or one very greedy drunk.
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