You’d be nuts to miss this

Anne-Marie O’Donnell gets a taste for The Nuthatch in Stockton…

Tucked away in the corner of The Wasp’s Nest Yard in the heart of Stockton’s historic quarter, The Nuthatch was our post-work destination for a Friday evening, and we were more than just a little excited to see what this relatively recent branch of cocktail heaven had to offer.

Meandering though the labyrinth of narrow lanes between the high-street and the River Tees, things were already on the right foot. We walked into the courtyard and were pleasantly surprised at the mecca of trendy bars which greeted us as people sat enjoying al fresco drinks.

As we stepped into the intimate bar around 6pm, a friendly staff member promptly showed us to a candlelit table set against a backdrop of exposed brickwork, low-hung bulbs and beautiful green foliage which draped the interior walls.

Straightaway this Nuthatch branch feels like it has more of a laidback atmosphere compared to its Middlesbrough counterpart – the type of gem you stumble across on holiday and keep going back to.

As each table started filling up, I eagerly skimmed through the cocktail list before a very knowledgeable mixologist came over to explain that the menu featured a twist on some classics but mainly offered in-house specials created by the Nuthatch team.

First up I tried A Blaze of Glory – an interesting mix of ingredients including rum, Grand Marnier, candyfloss syrup, pineapple and cinnamon. It tasted tropical but with a warming hint of Christmas (I think it was the spice)! My guest chose Taste of Paris, an elegant yet potent mix of cognac, champagne and demerara sugar which, according to the menu, was the tipple of choice at the opening of the Eiffel Tower in 1889.

We were clearly well into the swing of things when I opted for the Mango and Chilli Mojito. All the usual suspects were there, but I couldn’t quite get the taste of mango, though there was no mistaking the spicy kick. One to try if you’re feeling adventurous.

Next up was the dreamy Salted Karamel White Russian. The blend of caramel, sea salt, Kahlua and rosemary (it works!) is divine.

The cocktail menu oozes originality and each colourful creation, from the berry-laden Copper Rose – a ruby red take on the Woo Woo – to the stunning Lilac Lavender Martini, is created with precision and passion.

Aside from cocktails, the choice of speciality gins, rum, wines and bottled craft beer is extensive. We tried a Silent Pool gin served with tonic, a slice of orange and some pretty flowers. We weren’t disappointed.

Opening just eight months after their flagship on Middlesbrough’s Bedford Street, things are looking good for The Nuthatch and their talented team who promise to introducing more new drinks in the autumn.

The vibrant Stockton bar is an excellent choice for weekend drinks (open Friday–Sunday from 5pm till late), but book a table in advance and be willing to pay anything between £7 and £15 for a cocktail. Worth every penny? Absolutely.