If something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well. That’s the ethos – and the feel – behind Black Barrel, Castle Street’s new rum bar and small plates eatery.
An intimate bar on the site previously occupied by Izakaya, it’s a perfect spot to relax while listen to music and working through the extensive range of rums. Don’t miss maverick brands such as Dead Man’s Fingers Spiced Rum, as well as an impressive cocktail menu. Pick your favourite or try a selection with a bespoke cocktail flight.
The name Black Barrel pays tribute to the method of ageing rums and other dark spirits in a charred barrel to intensify their taste and add richness. There’s also a menu of delicious Caribbean and Latin American food, created by head chef, Bryony Stratton from Holywell, Wales and Mexican chef, Luis Michel. Small but perfectly formed, it offers 12 small plates each day, including excellent vegan options, with influences from Latin American and Caribbean countries. The vegan ‘fish’ tacos are exceptional and the super guac, jewelled with pomegranate seeds and chunks of avocado, served with fried plantain, are worth visiting for alone.
Head Chef, Bryony Stratton says of the menu: “We wanted to come up with a menu that was drawn from the whole of Latin America, so we have everything from Mexican Tacos to Colombian Arepas.
“Black Barrel wants to offer sophisticated flavours in an informal setting. It was important to me that all the dishes prepared are from scratch, so when you leave you feel you’ve experienced the full Latin vibe, right in the heart of Liverpool.”
They’ve certainly achieved that with the menu – and the bar itself. They also have an excellent general manager in Wirral’s Danielle Hamm, previously of Neighbourhood and Gusto.
She says: “Black Barrel brings something different to Castle Street with its cool and laid-back vibe. It’s a small, intimate bar that sits around 40 people, who will get to chill out with some brilliant rums, long drinks and cocktails, as well as some delicious food, fantastic music and acoustic live bands.
“As consumers wake up to the fact that rum has so much to offer, they’re beginning to experiment with rum in a way they’ve never done before – it is affordable, accessible and versatile with so many regional styles to explore now, so it’s an exciting time to be opening a bar like this.”
It fits well on Castle Street, one of the city’s best-loved food and drink quarters. Over the last decade it has reinvented itself from a street known for its banks to one bursting with life, and brilliant hospitality offerings, partly thanks to Black Barrel owner Tony Burns, who created McGuffies, a tiny coffee shop and bar in a Victorian pharmacy, the kind of place where you could pop in for an espresso in the morning and stay all day – and well into the night, if the mood took you.
After selling McGuffies he launched Pinch, a Portuguese bar and pinchos shop on the site of an old hairdressers, before transforming it into Rox, a cool cocktail hangout perfect for after-work drinks.
Next came Sanctuary Tap, a little haven of calm and friendliness, the perfect place for a pie and a pint – if you can choose between six cask ales, artisan cider, craft beer on tap and more than 50 bottled beers. There’s also one of the best jukeboxes in town, board games and some excellent take out beers.
Now, Tony and his team have worked their magic on their newest site, breathing new life into the old Izakaya site.
“This part of the city has become a real destination area for locals and visitors because it offers so many exciting food and drink options,” says Danielle. “There’s a real buzz about the area.
“The bar was inspired to give locals and visitors to the city a taste and education in the world of rum. So expect everything from white rums, to deep caramelised sipping rums, as well as versatile punchy rums like Dead Man’s Fingers, alongside a selection of Latin inspired small plates with plant based options.
“We want people to feel free to come in and enjoy the laid back and chilled vibe, so either pop in or hang out for an entire evening.”
Black Barrel, 6 Castle Street, Liverpool, L2 0N