We love the selection of cocktail bars in Edinburgh for its sheer scope, no two bars are the same and there’s really something for every occasion (all with that added hit of Scottish charm to boot).
Whether you’re a local or just intent on becoming a local for one weekend only, one of the drinking spots below will make you feel right at home in Scotland’s capital city. From high-end hotel boltholes to casual basement bars, we’ve tried to include a real variation, because no two drinking occasions are the same, or so we like to tell ourselves. Bramble, with its dimly lit, cosy interiors is perfect for a first date where you can snuggle right in and enjoy an evening for two, whereas The Printing Press is a slick space filled with serious bartenders ready to shake or stir you up the perfect serve, ideal for a group of friends who take their drinking seriously.
Whatever you decide to go for, one of these cocktail bars in Edinburgh will certainly make the perfect spot to start or end your night in.
The lucky Liquor Co
At The lucky Liquor Co the drinks menu changes regularly, and includes a whole host of unusual options. In place of your usual G&Ts or Manhattans you can expect cheekily named drinks like ‘Liquid Lunch’ or ‘Three Day Blender’, which combines tequila, mango and paprika shrub, and lime. It’s a small space, so get down early on weekends to get yourself a table in the cool black and white archway space. On Sundays they operate a ‘bring your own vinyl’ evening, nice but nice.
Where: 39A Queen Street, EH2 3NH
Finding Bramble can be a little tricky, as it’s tucked down a flight of stairs that lead to its nondescript basement door. Persevere on uncovering the entranceway and you’ll be well rewarded with a table tucked away in a cosy, dimly-lit room, where specialist drinks come in all shapes and sizes. We’d recommended skipping through the menu to the Bartenders’ Choice section where inventive cocktails like their Hendricks’s gin serve reside – which combines Yuzushu, cardamom syrup, salt and tonic water. There’s also a robust non-alcoholic section (mainly showcasing Seedlip) so that the whole group can enjoy an evening out on the tiles, whatever the preferences.
Where: 16A Queen Street, EH2 1JE
Despite its location within a central-Edinburgh hotel this cocktail bar really manages to hold its own as an independent destination. Inside things are dimly lit, as most cool bars are these days it seems, and interiors are made up of marble tables and red leather upholstered booths. The drinks menu changes regularly and features local produce, so local in fact that some of it has been grown at the hotel itself. The venue produces both herbs and honey, which are used to garnish and sweeten some of the cocktails on the menu. If you need any further persuasion to visit The Epicurean then just know that there’s a whole section of the menu that is dedicated to drinks which come with paired snacks.
Where: 1 George IV Bridge, EH1 1AD
Heads & Tales Gin bar
If you’re looking for somewhere to relax and kick back for the evening then this mirror-walled shabby chic bar space could be the one, with its comfy armchairs and friendly service. As the name might suggest, Heads & Tales specialise in gin and run a huge selection of brands, all listed with tasting notes, and suggested tonic and garnish pairings, as well as a selection of ten gin cocktails. If you’re with pals whose thing isn’t gin (strange, but fine) then you’ll be pleased to know that there’s a ‘Traitor’s Cocktails’ section which features vodka, rum and whisky serves among others.
Where: 1a Rutland Place, EH1 2AD
This unassuming spot is tucked away on York Street, just round the corner from Edinburgh’s centre. With two floors hidden in its underground location, Nightcap serves quirky drinks alongside late-night snacks (their kitchens are open until 1am, no less) in a cosy and relaxed atmosphere. The mixologists really know what they’re doing when it comes to the cocktails, and we’d recommend their signature Nightcap serve which combines bourbon, sherry, balsamic vinegar and orange bitters.
Where: 3 York Place, EH1 3EB
Panda & Sons
Panda & Sons is quirky, in the very best sense of the word (not in the way you’d describe someone you just think is a bit odd, you understand). Serving up cocktails in a loosely barber-themed retro-styled bar that is filled with eclectic and mismatched furniture, it fuses old and new with expert precision. Drinks are created with modern flair, often being given a hit of theatre from intricate garnishes or serving methods – dry ice, anyone? Our favourite has to be the Russian spring punch, a ‘tall, fruity number’ that combines vodka with raspberry liqueur, crème de cassis, fresh raspberries, lemon juice and Champagne. Cheers to that.
Where: 79 Queen Street, EH2 4NF
Hoot the Redeemer
For playfulness you can’t beat Hoot the Redeemer, which serves up alcoholic ice cream and slushies alongside slightly more conventional drinks in its retro-themed bar. On the ice cream side of things try an ‘Edinburgh Rocks’, which combines whisky, honeycomb and salted caramel. If a slushie sounds more your thing then try the slushie of the month, an ever-changing slot that sees interesting combinations served up all gloriously frozen and fruity.
Where: 7 Hanover Street, EH2 1DJ
Under the Stairs
This bistro and bar specialises in ingredient-lead drinks, using small local producers where possible to help supply the different elements needed for their short but sweet cocktail list. With tasting notes like ‘bittersweet’ or ‘herbaceous’ across the top of each serve, the team here have made picking a drink to suit your tastes as easy as possible. We love their summer special ‘Strawberry Fields’ which combines rosehip, strawberry and ginger liqueurs with cava. That’s a lot of liqueur, but maybe that’s why we like it. Inside the interiors are cosy and inviting with bare stone walls and a medley of comfortable chairs and tables to choose from.
Where: 3A Merchant Street, EH1 2QD
For something a bit more relaxed than your standard cocktail bar, you can’t beat Kin. This cool, off-the-beaten-track bar offers up friendly service and well-made drinks in a cosy and convivial atmosphere. And it’s not just us who think it either, this unassuming spot was only open two years when it placed at 27th on the official list of the top 50 cocktail bars in the UK. Drinks are reasonably priced and include pretty strong serves that use premium ingredients. The Berber of Seville, for instance, combines Lustau Don Nuno Dry Oloroso, fresh orange juice, Orgeat almond syrup, dried lime syrup and sesame oil.
Where: 1 Barony Street, EH3 6PD
The Last Word Saloon
This trendy Edinburgh cocktail bar is part of the same group that owns other hot-spots Bramble and Mothership in the capital. They take their drinks seriously, blending unusual flavours expertly for interesting results. Try a Sunset Song which blends whisky, ‘chuckleberry’ liqueur and teapot bitters for a uniquely Scottish take on an Old Fashion, or a Penny Arcade which combines vodka, vanilla, pineapple, lemon and bitters.
Where: 44 St Stephen Street, EH3 5AL
The Register Club
The wooden panelled walls and rich green upholstered soft furnishings in The Register Club make it feel like you’re stepping back in time, to an elegant and arty spot in the 1920s. This comfortable cocktail bar is found in the west wing of one of the city’s most exclusive hotels, The Edinburgh Grand, and attracts a high-end crowd. Drinks are playfully named, like the Cat’s Paws or Savings & Loans, and are made with luxury spirits, liqueurs and fortified wines.
Where: 42 St Andrew Square, EH2 2AD
The Bon Vivant
According to their menu a bon vivant is a person who devotes themselves to a sociable and luxurious lifestyle, so if that sounds like you, you’ll fit right in. The menu changes regularly but at last check a Spellbound cocktail sounded pretty up our street. Mixing Suze, apricot, vermouth, Chardonnay and Gros Manseng it sounds fruity and fun with a good kick of alcohol, the perfect combination.
Where: 55 Thistle Street, EH2 1DY
Dragonfly cocktail Bar
With mirrored walls and glittering chandeliers, this is another cocktail bar in Edinburgh that has a distinct 1920s twist to it. Plant filled and glamorous, it serves up a whole host of differently-styled drinks. For all-out indulgence try the Raspberry Whipple, which the menu explains is the ‘raspberry ripple’s first cousin, twice improved’. It combines vodka with raspberries, lemon meringue foam and sweets. If that doesn’t ignite your childhood sense of excitement, we don’t know what will.
Where: 52 West Port, EH1 2LD
The Devil’s Advocate
Filled with an industrial-style metal-shelved back bar with bare stone wall all around, this cool and classy spot in Edinburgh is one for those in the know. The cocktail menu changes regularly but always includes a range of spirits and serves. We love the The Good, The Bad and the Toddy which takes bourbon, cider, orange, cloves and sumac, combines them and serves them warm – pure heaven on a cool Scottish evening.
Where: 9 Advocate's Close, EH1 1ND
99 Hanover Street
Decked out with opulent curtains throughout, 99 Hanover Street promises a luxurious evening. They claim that their bartenders can whip up any of your favourite cocktails, but they also have an accomplished list to choose from if you fancy something a bit different. For a taste of the exotic on Scotland’s shores why not plump for the Kaffir Daiquiri, which combines Koko Kanu with apple juice, lime and kaffir lime sugar.
Where: 99 Hanover Street, EH2 1DJ
This small, independent bar prides itself in its personal approach. Each year they theme their menu on something, TV and films for instance, and create fun and creative serves around that central idea. A recent favourite of ours is the ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire?’ which takes Gentleman Jack, Mr Black, Amarula, caramel syrup and egg white and combines them in a short drink.
Where: 34A N Castle Street, EH2 3BN
The Voodoo Rooms
With regular live music acts and an inclusive atmosphere, this is a venue made for groups. Despite the fun and lively vibe the cocktails are taken seriously, with clever mixes and interesting serves dished up daily. Try a ‘Can You Dig It’ which combines tequila, grapefruit, lime, vanilla, pineapple and mango, or a ‘Miracle Batch’ which takes vodka and mixes it with beetroot, tomato juice, lemon, basil and blue cheese for a slightly strange yet satisfyingly savoury serve.
Where: 19a W Register Street, EH2 2AA
Gin fans, this one’s for you. One Square are specialists in this juniper-infused spirit and have a menu that spans the globe – with options from Japan, Australia and Denmark to enjoy, among others. The bar at this Edinburgh restaurant also has their own gin brand, so you know they take their spirits very seriously. With a whole host of suggested tonic pairings and garnishes, there should be something for everyone, and if a G&T isn’t your thing then you could try a classic cocktail, like their iteration of the ‘Bramble’ which mixes gin, lemon juice, sugar syrup and a drizzle of blackberry liqueur.
Where: 1 Festival Square, EH3 9SR
The Printing Press
If you’re looking for a sophisticated setting in your cocktail bar then The Printing Press is the venue for you. Housed in a beautiful old Edinburgh building with period features – think ceiling roses, cornicing and panelled walls – the bar has gorgeous blue leather bar stools and a polished marble counter top. Drinks are a mix of signature and classic cocktails, which see the likes of Mojito and Margaritas served up using the very best ingredients. From the signature list our favourite has to be the ‘Scottish Garden’ which combines Lindores Abbey Aqua Vitae, Lillet Blanc, elderflower, celery bitters and prosecco.
Where: 21-25 George Street, EH2 2PB
For cocktails served with a side of steak you can’t beat 56 North in Edinburgh, because frankly who doesn’t want to eat while they drink? Here cocktails are very much gin-focused (56 North have their own distillery on-site), with the longest list of brands we’ve ever seen in one place. The sections run from Scottish and seaside-infused gins to Japanese and alcohol-free brands, so there really is something for everyone. Add to this an extensive tonic and garnish list and you’ve got the recipe for a pretty good night.
Where: 2 W Crosscauseway, EH8 9JP
Slap bang in the middle of the centre of town, this small but sophisticated cocktail bar is in a handy spot for a drink after some sight-seeing. The interiors here are cosy and charming, and the menu will immediately let you know you’re in Scotland, kicking off with a section on whisky cocktails. Here you’ll find an especially good Penicillin (whisky, be pollen syrup, ginger and honeycomb), while further down the menu you’ll find bubbly, strong and long serves as well as a hot drinks section for colder day. The ‘Hot Buttered Brew’ takes rum, bourbon, stout, butter, bitters and maple and mixes them together for a sweet and satisfying drink that will warm your very bones.
Where: 61 High Street, EH1 1SR
Treacle Bar & Kitchen
Pies, seafood and cocktails might not seem like the most natural of pairings, but Treacle somehow pull it off. Their cocktail list changes regularly and themes drinks on a particular moment in time, or a different muse. The latest line up is inspired by a ‘second summer of love’. A sweet and fruity cocktail called ‘Show Me Love’ combines vodka, strawberries, lemon, orgeat, peach bitters, egg white, and peach dust, for a grown up take on sherbety strawberry lemonade.
Where: 39-41, Broughton Street, EH1 3JU
Claiming to be Edinburgh’s first Cicchetti bar (which refers to the snacks traditionally served with drinks in Venice) this small but perfectly formed spot serves up cocktails with a continental slant. Expect fruity summer-style cocktails alongside stronger classic serves like Espresso martinis, of course. If you’re here for a bite to eat too then you’ll be choosing from a menu that includes plenty of cheese and sliced meats as well as savoury treats like arancini and bruschetta.
Where: 3 Melville Place, EH3 7PR
The Voyage of Buck
The name of this Edinburgh cocktail bar pays homage to man called Buck, who was a fried of one of Queen Victoria’s grandsons who apparently settled in Edinburgh after quite the adventurous life. The cocktail list draws inspiration from these adventures, taking you through groupings that are listed under titles such as ‘Dheli’ and ‘Saint Tropez’. In the latter expect luxurious serves like the ‘La Ponche Mimosa’ which combines vodka, grilled peach and rosemary shrub, elderflower liqueur and prosecco.
Where: 29-31 William Street, EH3 7NF
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