Wherever you go, you’ll never be far away from somewhere serving alcohol, because, Scotland. With so many places to choose from, it’s hard to distinguish the hidden gems from the tourist traps. So whether you’re visiting for the first time, hosting a friend from abroad, or just celebrating the fact that it’s 10 am (oops), finding a winner can be WORK.
Don’t worry, ’cause we’ve got you covered. We’re here to break it down for you because we’re helpful like that, and we won’t tell anyone it wasn’t all you (we got you, friend).
If you look up any ol’ Edinburgh cocktail bar guide on Google, they’ll almost always recommend Bramble, and not just because it’s a total crowd pleaser. With its quirky cave-like setting, live DJs spinning insane sets, a super creative menu and a fantastic city-central locale, Bramble is not hard to like.
Plus, the cocktails are super unique and often served in cute lil’ teacups. It goes without saying you’ll find loads of photos on Instagram, you know, so it’s super photogenic.
This is the cocktail bar within the rooftop Thai restaurant Chaophraya on Castle Street, so a great choice for an aperitif or a group meal, since the food here is equally as amazing as the drinks.
The bartenders are all seriously skilled and ready to recommend the best Thai-inspired cocktails they know, and the incredible view of the castle is an added bonus—but maybe one to save for when your parents are in town because #studentbudget.
If a cocktail bar isn’t really your thing, The Blackbird has a much more laid-back vibe, whilst also having a drinks menu extensive enough to please anyone. The Blackbird serves everything from draught beer to gin and tonic to a “Mai Tai on Steroids,” and its food menu is also impressive with breakfast right through dinner and dessert.
The Blackbird gains extra points for the pool table in the back, making it the perfect choice for a date à la Dan and Serena—because everyone loves a cliché.
4. Panda & Sons
This used to be Edinburgh’s best-kept secret as an official speakeasy, but it’s easy to see why word has spread so quickly. It’s disguised as a barber shop, so you enter the bar through a random bookshelf—initially weird, however, I swear you won’t be disappointed (and no, I don’t work for them).
If you want to try something new, go straight for one of the concoctions; but even if a glass of wine is all you’re after, the location is an experience in itself.
The sister of Panda & Sons, Hoot The Redeemer recreates a 1950s funfair, and you don’t even need to get drunk to have fun there. They have popcorn, ice cream and slush puppies, so there’s far more reason to come than just for the incredible cocktails.
The best part? You can pick a mystery drink using a claw crane, just like the kind you’d find at the funfair—but this claw will never steal your money, and every cocktail it gives you is better than any stuffed toy.
6. 52 Canoes
Granted, it doesn’t have an official website, so you’re already sceptical—anyone who says they don’t think this is weird is lying. But if you’re #chill and you like rum and good, inexpensive food, then this is the definite go-to. 52 Canoes is an authentic-looking tiki bar in the heart of the New Town with punch bowls, burgers, burritos and an open mic; available all together, or separately as you wish.
A good choice if you’re hosting and want to give someone the proper Edinburgh experience, as it has just about every kind of whiskey on the planet. Hidden in the traditional Old Town of the city, The Devil’s Advocate offers a huge range of local beers and wines, and just as many original cocktails to make sure everyone leaves drunk enough to say, “It’s not actually that cold outside.”
We all know the full Scottish experience is only achieved when you convince yourself to walk all the way home despite your numb feet and blue fingers, enjoying that *beautiful* scenery as you go.