Billy Bootleggers, Newcastle

‘Whiskey will always be a part of my life’ Artie Lange

I’m sure that people who consider themselves to be real pub connoisseurs would want to burn me at the stake when I openly admit how much of a lover of a Wetherspoons I am. Cheap food, cheap wine and real ale, what’s not to love? The problem with Newcastle upon Tyne is that apart from the couple of Wetherspoons they have, and a sprinkling of decent authentic one of a kind pubs(Lady Greys, Split Chimp, Crowne Posada) it’s almost wall to wall swanky champagne bars where it takes an hour to get a cocktail and the only beer on tap is Stella.

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Another favourite pub of mine which is neither a Wetherspoons or a long standing staple of the the city is No28, which I visit frequently and was very honoured to be able to try out their Unlimited Prosecco offer before it was launched last summer. Imagine my joy when I found out that they were expanding and adding a sister underground Speakeasy.

 

Down at Billy Bootleggers, believe me when I say there’s nothing else like this place in Newcastle. A dive bar in the truest sense with its’s dark cubbyhole corners, Americana decor and bourbon whiskey by the jar. The graffiti filled walls when you walk in reminded me on CBGBs in New York (the original dive bar). So far this place is ticking all my boxes, if you pardon the phrase.  The best bar in Newcastle just got even better.

We finally visited at about 10pm on a Friday night and it was nicely busy but not so heaving that you couldn’t get moved. We sought advice from the barmaid as to what to drink as we were just looking for a nightcap before heading home. She recommended their flavoured whiskeys (at 3 for 10) so we went for Raspberry, Cranberry and Banana and they came in really cute little jam jars. Mixers were also available with them if we felt we needed them but they were tasty enough without. The Cranberry was definitely my favourite, I could have drank me a million and a half of those little glass beauties! They also brew their own secret recipe of Apple Pie Moonshine which will be the first thing I’m trying on my next visit.

The band who were playing at the time (who’s name escapes me – I blame the whiskey) were really good, not too loud that they were over bearing and playing a mixture of original material and stripped down covers all with an acoustic rockabilly feel.

The food and drinks menus are totally on brand and there are no bells and whistles. If your sipping whiskey and listening to an Americana version of Billy Jean, do you really want foi gras or hispter kale and kombucha? No, you want hot dogs (from £7) and wings (from £5) and fries (from £3.50) and stuff you can eat with your hands. They have an extensive cocktail menu if bourbon ain’t your thing, along with wine and beer too.

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Much like No28, I have a feeling Billy’s is going to be one of those places that I drag everyone along to for some enforced fun. It’s also probably the only place in the city that makes me wish there was no smoking ban; whiskey and cigars. So bluesy!

Billys is open daily from 5pm to 2am with live music at weekends.

Contact:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/billybootleggers/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BBootleggers

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bootleggersnewcastle/

 

 

Bottomless Prosecco at Newcastle’s No28

‘It is the hour to be drunken! To escape being the martyred slaves of time, be ceaselessly drunk’ – Charles Baudelaire

My hubby and I have a short history with bottomless drink offers. When we were in Vegas in 2009 we took advantage of the bottomless martinis from 4pm-8pm in the bar in our hotel thinking we would pre load before going to dinner. Needless to say I almost got into a physical fight with a 40 year old with a face like  a 70 year old who tried to pinch my bar stool and had a serious and vocal rant about Jesse McCartney’s blatant wish to become Justin Timberlake before both passing out in out beds and waking up the next morning having lost a night of out holiday. Good times!

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Having learnt a valuable lesson that day (namely that drinking hard spirits at 4 in the afternoon will get me thoroughly kippered) and being  ever so slightly more sensible these days, we were pretty excited when we found out one of our favourite bars in Newcastle, No28 had introduced the concept of bottomless prosecco on a Saturday afternoon. Quaffing prosecco in Newcastle is way classier than getting piss-eyed in Vegas anyway. Besides, Dave had just done his latest running triumph and completed a 100K race the weekend previous, our super clever nephew graduated from Leeds University with a First and I, well I was just pleased to approaching my 34th birthday without having severely injured myself or anyone around me. We were celebrating!

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The deal is 2 tapas dishes each, from a wide selection on offer and free flowing, unlimited prosecco, served every Saturday between 12-5pm. Reservations are essential so we made sure we arrived bang on time at 1pm. On arrival we were shown straight to our table and offered our first glass.

So here’s the scoop. The deal is available 12-5pm and you have 2 hours o enjoy your bottomless drinks. Due to Newcastle City Council licensing laws I must point out that management reserve the right to refuse or withdraw service to anyone they deem too intoxicated, so basically as long as you’re not a knob about it, the booze will flow as long as you’re in an appropriate state to accept it.

After your first glass you’re given the rest of the bottle to finish off, which is nice, as in my experience the first glass doesn’t even touch the sides, so asking for a top up after approximately 5 minutes would just be awkward for everyone. Choosing off the food menu was difficult, it all sounded amazing. You hear tapas and you automatically think patatas bravas, however the menu at No28 has an Asian persuasion to it meaning it all sounded like nothing I’ve tasted before, and I wanted it all. On the recommendation of Iain, the general manager Dave went for the roast pork dumplings and the risotto arracini (kind of like deep fried cheesy risotto balls) and I had the chicken won tons and chilli beef nachos.

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The food was nothing short of exceptional. The spanish/thai fushion makes for a refreshing change when they could easily offer chunky chips and onion rings like everywhere else. The tapas style really fits with the cool quirky ambiance of the bar; real social sharing food that makes you want to drink more and talk louder. The roast pork dumplings were a particular Newman favourite, not gloopy or oil and jam packed with meat and flavour. Everything had the right amount of spice in too; spicy enough to taste and not too spicy that it’s over powering. Portion wise, it was just the right amount for an afternoon snack, the last thing you want is to be too full to fit in any more Prosecco.

I’m often wary about drinks offers like these as it sometimes smacks of somewhere that’s gotten hold of a load of ropy booze and are selling it off on the cheap but the Prosecco was really good quality, there’s no doubt in my mind that it’s not the same quality that’s offered to all. Staff were friendly and attentive and after out first bottle kept us topped up whenever we needed it, although they say to go to the bar when you want some more, we never needed to as there always seemed to be someone walking around waiting to refresh you.

 

Of course deals like this always depend on how much you drink, If you’re a one glass wonder then it’s probably not the offer for you, however for a seasoned prosecco drinker like me, I certainly felt like we got our £20 worth, the food itself would have come to £16 had we ordered separately. As fair as I’m concerned it’s the perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon with your other half or as a respite from an afternoon shopping with the girls. I’ve always loved No28 as it offers a classier more cosmopolitan feel than the many swanky hipster bars and Wetherspoons that Newcastle has to offer and now they have bottomless prosecco?! Well, that’s a sure fire way to win my heart for life.

Bottomless prosecco is available by reservation only. Call 0191 447 5590 to book

This has been a collaborative post but all views are my own. 

 

The One with the Friends Quiz

‘I am SO good at lightning rounds’ – Monica

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If you ever asked me I would tell you that I’m the least competitive, most placid person you’ll ever meet, then if you ever happen to be on a pub quiz team with me it will take you about 30 seconds to realise that that’s an absolute lie.

I’m often seen as a good person to have on their quiz team due to my unnaturally indepth knowledge of boybands and 90s one hit wonders but give me a question about kings of england or the elements of the periodic table and it will be glaringly obvious how blonde I really am. That’s why I was so excited to find that one of my favourite pubs in Newcastle (No28) was hosting a pub quiz based solely on the TV show Friends. I put together a team of people who I knew would know even more about Friends than I did; Dave, Steph, Carrie, Emma and John. Could we BE anymore excited?!

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Set in the great No28 just above the Grainger Market (Patricia first introduced me to this place a few years ago and I love taking new people there as most people don’t even know it exists!) we had a reserved table waiting for us (they’d had 3 Friends quiz night previous to this one which had sold out within 15 minutes so we were lucky to get a table for this one). I’m pleased they only used the tables they already have there rather than cramming in loads of extra ones in and making it impossible to hear each other or get to the bar. After much deliberation (mainly be me) over team name (Quiz in your Pants was poo-pooed) we settled on team ‘Santa Claus’ Pants’ – both seasonal and topical. Alas though we didn’t win the ‘best team name’ prize, that went to ‘Diamonds are for Geller’ damn them and their wit. Prizes available were 1st place, 2nd last place and best team name (we knew we’d already lost that one) so there was much at stake.

The rounds were split into: ‘Monica and Chandler’, ‘Ross and Rachel’, ‘Phoebe and Joey’, ‘General Knowledge’, ‘Celebrity Guests’ and a picture round. Cheish did an excellent job MC-ing keeping things moving nicely with no lulls in between questions or rounds and anything that needed clarifying got clarified. I’ll admit that I all I was expecting from the evening was a couple of glasses of fizz and some giggles throwing some Friends quotes around. I wasn’t prepared for Carrie and Emma’s super competitive Rain Man knowledge of everything that’s ever been said or done in any episode of Friends ever! But hey, these chicks are on my team so I’m not complaining.

Biggest drama of the night came with the question ‘how many episodes of friends have there been in total’. In some of my last minute research last week I knew I’d seen somewhere that it was around 236, so thats the answer we put down, then at the last minute I second guessed myself and changed it to 232 thinking that that would fall more within the ‘to the nearest 5’ rule they were imposing. The answer? 236 exactly. I honestly thought I’d lost it for the team as up until that point we had a clean sweep. To be honest, I’m still finding it hard to talk about so best move on…

Turns out that I needn’t have stressed too much because we only went and bloody won the whole bloody quiz didn’t we?! Other than the Christmas cake competition at work this is the only thing I’ve ever won in my life based on merit (well, Emma and Carrie’s merit to be perfectly honest but hey, a team’s a team!) So a £50 bar tab is nestled merrily on my mantle piece now, ready to raise a glass in honour of Santa Claus’ Pants after Christmas. Super competitiveness (which i don’t have of course) aside it was a really fun night and if you’re a clued up as we were then a quiz about a certain subject is a great change from the norm.

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Winning smiles all round…

Hopefully No28 put on some more in the future, they’re a great quirky little venue that had lots of drinks offers and Friends related food available (like the Moist Maker Sandwich – genius!) I know they have a Sex and the City one planned soon, however we’re not sure our knowledge is quite en pointe for that one, but the next Friends one? Well we need so defend out crown don’t we?!