The Pinnacle Guide

RATTLEBAG

Belfast, UK

Bringing big-city energy to Belfast, Rattlebag is a spirit-forward innovative cocktail bar that is plush, cosy and dark.

AREAS OF EXCELLENCE

AREAS OF EXCELLENCE

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ENVIRONMENTAL ENDEAVOURS

Rattlebag uses no single use plastics, they recycle paper, card, aluminium and glass and made the switch to LED lighting last year. They also forage ingredients where they can, including nettles, blueberries, and pineappleweed. The bar works with Another World, a local not-for-profit, by selling their merchandise and collaborating on social projects.

DETAILS OF NOTE

Rattlebag collaborated with Boatyard distillery to create a bespoke distillate from pine needles. This spirit was specifically designed to make their Bone Dry Martini – a serve which is now unique to the bar and always on the menu, and which they recently packaged up and hand delivered to 50 local businesses as a gift.

The Pinnacle Guide

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Rattlebag is a dark and intimate spirit-forward cocktail bar, with a focus on innovation, hospitality, and music. Attached to the Bullitt Hotel and off a busy street, its design gives guests some misleading clues as they head in past the heavy wooden door and curtained hallway; it could easily be mistaken for a speakeasy if it weren’t for the large brass sign outside plus some outdoor tables.

Inside, Rattlebag resembles something of a jazz bar thanks to its pops of red, dim lighting, leatherette furnishing and thick Ulster carpets. Rather than dedicated to jazz however, the venue is a not-so-secret dedicated cocktail destination that loves nothing more than to showcase the best of local spirit production. The bar itself has been passed on from the previous occupants, a ski-themed bar, and as such has a simple rich wooden countertop but fits in well with the rest of the venue. Seating here is a mix of banquette, plush stools and wooden bar seats, all placed to extend its atmosphere of a cosy hideaway.

The team at Rattlebag chooses 12 spirits every 12 weeks and designs 12 cocktails around these selections. The drinks are meant to showcase the base spirit and as such, additions such as sugar are kept to a minimum. Instead, staff look to other local ingredients, even those that can be foraged, to help elevate the spirits. Nettles, blueberries and pineappleweed are all examples of forage-able finds in Belfast. In addition to these changing creations, the bar has a small selection of signature serves and Martini variations that don’t change. The menu features striking images from the photography studio WhiteCloud, who have collaborated with the bar since they opened. Menus also include a flavour key, and QR codes for Spotify Playlists.

They work hard behind the scenes – creating infusions and fermentations, carbonating and pre-batching to enhance the speed and consistency of their service.

Despite looking like a jazz bar, the team here are more likely to greet guests as if they’re entering a favourite Irish pub, with service that is warm, friendly and informal. Staff are also very knowledgeable about the products they’re pouring and are genuinely proud to showcase local distilleries like Copeland, Shortcross and Echlinville to guests who may never otherwise have come across them. 

While vinyl jazz does feature monthly, the soundtrack is just as likely to be house, minimal techno and space disco. Regular DJs nights are a popular occurrence with regular guests as well. The bar’s method is that in the same way they want guests to experience drinks and service that they can’t get elsewhere in Belfast, they also want them to hear music that is different from what other bars might play. They are staunch allies for the LGBTQIA+ community and have incorporated gender-neutral language and unisex bathrooms to ensure everyone feels extremely welcome.

For those visiting the city – the staff are happy to offer a quick informal history lesson and provide local tips to ensure guests make the most of their time in Belfast.  

“My experience was great with the staff, not lacking for any attention or left waiting for anything at all… the menu is exciting and I would have liked to try many more cocktails on the list.”

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