Have you noticed how many cocktail bars there are in Edinburgh right now? It probably hasn’t escaped your attention, but where should you go for a drink? Many people end up sticking with the one they know because the alternative is overwhelming – as always, Edinburgh Editor has thrown itself on the sacrificial alter and gone on the hunt for you.
Not so very long ago I was lucky enough to be at a cocktail festival, a one-night-only event in which some of Edinburgh’s hottest cocktail bars were under the one roof. An excellent opportunity to taste the talents of the bars without having to trek across town to get between them. On the night all the bars were only serving one or two cocktails, but I feel it’s enough to have a mini comparison between some of them. There were also a few notable absences from the event – like Bramble and The Devil’s Advocate – but we had an excellent evening. Based on who was there, what their temporary bar looked like and how it played out on the night, here are some of the places that we think are worth you checking out.
2-8 W Crosscauseway
We’re big fans of 56 North – and not just because they have the largest gin collection in town. The cocktail on display was a vibrant mix of Whitney Neill Gin, homemade bitters and citrus, served in a rustic tin mug (they’d taken the labels off, but I reckon you could get them from John Lewis). This bar has so much knowledge and just want to share it, in liquid form – it would be almost rude to refuse. There’s lots of gin, but they do much, much more if you’re not the gin type.
37-39 Leven Street
Last mentioned in the first part of our ‘Where to drink Beer‘ guide, The Blackbird is also a great place for an exciting and innovative cocktail. Pairing up with Belvedere Vodka, their cocktail was a bitter sweet grapefruit delight that was perfect for those who aren’t big fans of sweet cocktails. The contemporary of Hamilton’s (below), they make up a formidable combined force.
Heads and Tails
1a Rutland Place
One of Edinburgh’s newest bars, it’s also becoming a fast favourite of many. Not pairing up with its usual Edinburgh Gin, their match with El Darado rum was an excellent choice. If you’re looking for somewhere to go that you can see the still they actually distill their gin in, enjoy a great array of boozy treats and being somewhere that everyone currently wants to go to (but few have), then Heads and Tails is for you.
16-18 Hamilton Place
An old favourite of ours and one of the stand-out bars and drinks of the night. The staff had the chat, the drink packed a delicious punch. Quite the macho cocktail, it was a burbon from Tennessee served in a whisky tumbler with a hefty single block of ice, ours was a gingerbread concoction served with a bit of the cake on the side, although a peach version was also on offer. If you don’t like your bars to pretentious and with people that love making the drinks they serve, you could do a lot worse than Hamilton’s – it’s not one of Stockbridge’s best loved bars for no reason.
30-34 St Andrew Square
You might not automatically think of Harvey Nichols when it comes to cocktails, but their Fourth Floor bar is a delight for cocktails with stunning views out over the square and the city centre. Pairing up with the incredibly delicious Chase marmalade vodka in a citrus-packed delight in a jam jar (a Harvey Nics jam jar, naturally) it was one of our favourite drinks of the evening, and now somewhere to add to that list of ‘must try’ bars.
And there we have it – five cocktail bars that are worth going to see. It won’t scratch the surface of all Edinburgh has to offer the avid cocktail drinker, but it’s a great set to start on.