Fancy pubs and bars are popping up all over the place these days, so to stand out from the crowd they need to either do things simply and well, or do something a bit different. The latter will always generate a bit of attention initially, but unless it’s good as well, they’ll normally fizzle out within six months. We found a winner last week: The Bottle of Sauce is situated in the centre of Cheltenham, on the corner of Clarence Street and Ambrose Street. Walking past you don’t get many clues what’s inside as the large windows are quite high up the building and aren’t any good for peering in.
Walking in it looks nice initially, with its plain brick walls wood and flashes of copper, but it doesn’t seem anything out of the ordinary. It’s only when you explore a bit that you realise this place has hidden depths.
Beyond the ‘L’ shaped bar to one side there’s a discreet nook- great for a group of up to about eight people, and then hidden away down what looks like a walk way to a toilet there’s a modest sized room with a long table and seating for around 14 people, which can be used for private functions, and even work events; there are even plans to offer drinks and food table service, which would make for a great party! Beyond the dining room there’s a snug games room with table football and table tennis.
To the other side of the bar there are doors to an outside courtyard- home to smokers on our winter visit, but with potential as a great outdoor area in the warmer months.
And just past the courtyard is the canteen; a area with a dozen or so tables and the kitchen at the back- home to an impressive genuine Neapolitan pizza oven! The canteen is fully glazed on one side, with a small space for a DJ at the back; the idea being that in the summer the windows can open up (onto the courtyard), the tables be stacked away, the music play and hey presto- a party!
And of course, one of the main ingredients of a good party- the drinks! A Bottle of Sauce has a good range of options; there’s your usual wines and spirits, and an interesting looking range of beers and ciders including a good selection from the Dodo micro brewery. But we were most interested in their cocktail offering, and they didn’t disappoint. There was a good selection of familiar names with intriguing twists. We tried a selection of refreshing long drinks including a Cotswold Cow, Gin Fix, a Shakey Pete (gin, citrus and IPA which works very well), a Big Easy, a Rickity Mojito (the rum used on this changes on a regular basis as the team at the Bottle of Sauce change their rum infusion; this time was an orange and vanilla rum which struck a fine balance between being subtle, yet having clearly defined flavours- it was delicious!), a Bramble and a Hard Lemonade. There wasn’t one of these cocktails we didn’t enjoy completely- very well thought out and balanced!
The food menu offers something for everyone; the main components are pizzas (from the aforementioned pizza oven) and burgers, with a selection of salads (main or side sizes), chicken wings, fries and macaroni cheese, all in a variety of options. We had a Big D burger, which included bacon, cheese, salad and a succulent, pink-in-the-middle, burger, cheesy truffled fries, peppery macaroni cheese and a salami pizza. After all those great cocktails, a good selection of carb’s was just what we needed, and these delicious flavour-packed dishes were ideal.
This exciting new venue is a breath of fresh air for Cheltenham: It hadn’t officially launched when we visited, but it was already a vibrant and fun place to be. And if the team can maintain the great quality of the food and drink we enjoyed, The Bottle of Sauce will enjoy a long and happy relationship with its new home.