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Behind-the-Scenes at Hard Times & Misery

“Simply put, Hard Times & Misery is the very best of British craft. From a great selection of local cask ales, all gravity poured (beer festival style) to our ‘boss bottles’, craft beers that change weekly, to our hand selected range of small batch spirits. All independent. All British.”

Blink and you’ll miss Hard Times & Misery, which you will find at the bottom end of Maryland Street if you look really hard, but this is one bar you won’t want to walk past. Owners Jen and Greig like to say the bar’s hidden away in plain sight, as you could easily stroll past them in three paces.

It’s fair to say Hard Times & Misery is a little bit different to anything else you’ll find in Liverpool. As you first walk into the bar, you’ll be surprised to find such an intimate space, which makes you feel as if you’re having a drink in a friend’s house – those friends being the warm and friendly Jen and Greig, who have such an obvious passion for their drink selection.

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You would have to be passionate to invest your entire lifesavings into creating a bar that’s dedicated to their love of real ale and the craft scene. Before there was Hard Times & Misery, the couple were focused on their day-to-day Jobs. Greig was involved in Sales & Marketing, whilst Jen is a microbiologist by trade and has recently been involved in project management – so they most definitely have a good mix of skills that are transferable to hospitality.

“With such a big decision comes a fair bit of anxiety. This was undoubtedly a gamble for us, but we have the confidence in our concept and we think the people of Liverpool will be really excited to experience what we’ve done.”

So, why risk it all? Jen and Greig simply wanted to create somewhere they would like to spend their time – and they’ve certainly done that and then some.

“We both love real ale and the craft scene, as well as really good spirits. The problem is, all too often you have to make a choice as to which to go for. Nowhere seems to offer it all, so we thought we’d give it a go.”

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In just a few short weeks since they first opened, Hard Times & Misery has, in Jen & Greig’s words, had an overwhelming response. In their first two weekends, the bar was drank dry, proving people not only understand what they are trying to do, but that they love this unique bar. However, Jen and Greig are far from complacent, stating they always listen to their customers and have already started tweaking little things to improve the experience.

There’s an exciting drink for every customer at Hard Times & Misery – so you can choose whether to play it safe or try something new. Jen and Greig have you well-and-truly covered. They’re happy to tell you a little bit more about the drinks and flavours on offer, and their passion for their selection is a little bit infectious. It really is all about the flavour at this unique bar, which is located in a 19th century coach house, which just makes you love it that little bit more. Hard Times & Misery really just wants to showcase the very best of British craft, so they’re not afraid to shout about their real ales and spirits – or a mix of the two, because you will want to try their chocolate and mint bitters paired with heavy juniper gin.

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Jen and Greig aren’t backed by big money. They are just huge fans of the British drinks industry and have a real passion for every drink they serve to their customers. This small, independently-run Liverpool bar has worked hard to forge relationships with their suppliers, knowing them by name. In fact, it was from one of the distillers that came up with the name Hard Times & Misery. The distiller told Jen and Greig he’d endured a 3am bottle session, labelling so many bottles by hand that he ended up with blisters, leading the couple to say “blood, sweat and tears” to him, before he replied, “No, hard times and misery” – and so the name was born!

However, the only hard time you’ll have at the bar is picking what drink to pick, because there are just so many fantastic choices on offer. And the misery? Well, that’s when you have to leave, but you can guarantee Jen & Greig will be back behind the bar waiting to serve up another superb drink upon your return.

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There’s more to Hard Times & Misery than just great British craft, because it’s also thought to be home to a different type of spirit in the form of Molly the Ghost. The couple first realised they had a ghost when they were doing some early work on the bar, and would often hear noises upstairs if they were alone, which sounded like furniture being dragged across the floor. At first the couple thought their minds were just playing tricks on them, even when they heard small footsteps walking behind them, but no-one was ever there when they turned around. However, things certainly became a little weirder.

“Our two year old daughter, Agnes, was playing upstairs one day whilst we were doing a little painting, then she started having a one-sided conversation with an empty corner of the room.

‘Aggie, who are you talking to?’ we asked. She pointed to the far corner of the room and said ‘Molly’.”

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As we stated earlier, Hard Times & Misery is located within a 19th century coach house – which is located just next to one of Liverpool’s most haunted streets, Rodney Street, all adding to the character and personality of this distinctive bar, which offers a warm and welcoming bar area, as well as a choice of seating just up the stairs.

After only opening on weekends, Hard Times & Misery will soon be open throughout the week, as they plan on operating: Tues-Thurs 4-11pm, Fri 4-12pm, Sat 1-12pm and Sun 4-11.

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If you are tired of the same old drinks and want to add a little flavour and character to your life, Hard Times & Misery is a must. With no clear signage outside, it really is easy to miss it. We’re not going to tell you exactly where it is, because that would ruin all the fun, but if you’re by Free State Kitchen, Hope & Anchor and LJMU library, well, you’re not too far away. Just make sure you tell Jen & Greig that Signature’s Liverpool sent you.

For more information on Hard Times & Misery, you can follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

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About Elisabeth Sedgwick

Elisabeth loves writing about Liverpool, showcasing the best attractions, events and experiences in our beautiful city.

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