Are you bored of going to the same pub, ordering your usual and staring at your phone for the rest of the evening? Well, join the club - but kiss those worries good night as I might have a solution for you. Four Quarters, an arcade bar with outposts across the UK (including Newcastle and London), has found a new home in one of Bristol’s liveliest areas, Park Street. I made a visit to discover more about this gaming experience that's equal parts nostalgic and new.
It housed more than 20 original arcade machines from the 1970s and 1990s, all of which had been reverently restored. Your travel through time begins the second you enter the bar, which fronts classic, retro-American interior design. And with a slightly stuffy atmosphere, the basement initially gave a man-cave vibe, but it proved to be much more than that. We started with single-player games like Ms Pacman, Tetris, Street Fighter 2 and all the Pinball machines. After we got a taste, we moved on to the multiplayer-friendly and timeless classics that also happened to be our favourites; The Simpsons, Operation Thunderbolt and Time Crisis II (in no particular order).
Now onto the drinks: If you’re more of a gamer than I am, you might not care as much about the tipples, as you’re there to waste your savings in the form of quarters, but I’m here to tell you that you should. Our first round was a chilli rim margarita (£9.50), with chilli-infused tequila that balanced the sweetness of the triple sec and sour limes, plus a coco sunrise (£8.50). Though there was a strong coconut flavour from the Malibu, you could barely taste the spiced rum (this could either be a positive or a negative review depending on how you like your cocktails).
The margarita left such a great impression on me that I went for another tequila-based sip, aptly named the Mexican butterfly (£8.50). With quite a complex flavour profile, it was made up of white wine, elderflower cordial and agave syrup, topped up with lime and apple juice, plus a mint garnish. My pal knocked back a classic old fashioned (£9.50) with notes of sweet maple syrup mellowing the heady Bourbon.
Exhausted after a long gaming session, we decided to end the night with a blood orange negroni (9.50) and a Donkey Kong tropical punch (8.50). While the orange bitters of the negroni were slightly too sharp for me, it proved to be a classy way to finish the evening. The punch, on the other hand, was yet another spiced rum-based quaff where the fruity flavours overtook the strong spirit, accompanied by Red Bull Tropical, lime juice and Angostura bitters. If it hasn’t been obvious, our cocktail preferences couldn’t have been more polar opposite - but needless to say, the drinks menu at Four Quarters passed the test with flying colours.
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Now, I have to admit, I’m not much of a gamer myself and half of the time I was pressing random buttons and mindlessly shooting the first few creatures that appeared on the minute screens. But, I seriously can’t remember the last time I was having so much fun that I completely forgot about the existence of my phone - who knew feeling so present could feel so much like time-travelling to the past? Regardless of whether you’re in the mood to scream bloody murder with Mortal Kombat 2 or to get (rationally) over-competitive with Mario Kart, you’ll find yourself spoiled for choice at Four Quarters in Bristol city centre.
💰 The damage: £23.50 for three cocktails and £7 for 15 quarters.
📍 The location: 32 Park Street, BS1 5JA.
👌 Perfect for: Affordable date nights and hanging out with friends.
⭐ Need to know: The basement gets quite busy so you may need to book in advance.
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