I was genuinely amazed by the cocktail bars in Edinburgh. I had no idea there were so many cool, some underground, inventive, interesting places to drink in the city. With notoriously bad weather I guess the Scots have had to become masters at creating the ideal indoor spaces.
Just add some dim lighting, a few armchairs and a bevy of tasty cocktails and Edinburgh’s cocktail bars have become the perfect place to hide out for hours.
Back in April I took a road trip from Edinburgh to Dumfries, and we really made the most of our time in the capital by sampling the cocktail menus at as many bars as possible.
A little self-guided cocktail bar tour round Edinburgh doesn’t come cheap, about a tenner a drink, but I like to see it as a tour of modern museums with refreshments at every exhibit.
9 Best Cocktail Bars in Edinburgh
Click for the map of the best cocktail bars in Edinburgh
1. Perilous Potions
With a name like Perilous Potions, this Edinburgh pop up conjures up images of Snape’s potions classes. This Harry Potter themed bar is for wizards everywhere waiting to be schooled on how to master some of the most magical cocktails. Think Confuddling Concoctions and Glacio Ardetiums served in cauldrons and test tubes with flames and smoke. Although currently taking a break from the Edinburgh scene, it’s rumoured to return sometime soon.
Perilous Potions was the brainchild of Pop Up Geek, the team behind a themed cocktail bar that changes its focus every three months. I LOVE this idea.
2. Voodoo Rooms
For this swanky bar located just off Princes Street, you’ll need your fanciest attire. With cabaret rooms, antique decor and gold furnishings your Converse just won’t cut it. Live music acts play most nights and while this place is known for its rums and tequilas you’ll also find an original cocktail menu as long as your tartan scarf. Loving the cocktail names here: Release the Voodoo, The Sips Don’t Lie and Miracle Batch et al.
3. Hoot the Redeemer
As if one time travel bar wasn’t enough, the makers of Panda and Sons are also shaking up the Edinburgh bar scene with Hoot the Redeemer. Just off Hanover Street, it’s a 1950s New Orleans funfair hidden beneath the cobbles. With vintage games, cinema seats and an ice-cream parlour, it’s a pretty cool interactive experience topped off with great drinks like the Professor Funk, Bounty Castle and Long Tack Sam.
4. Bon Vivant
Keeping it fresh by changing their cocktail menu regularly, no matter how many times you visit the city, you can always come back to Bon Vivant and be surprised. Dark and edgy, and not too far from Waverley Station, you can easily sample the likes of a Scotch Colada or a Peachy Blinder before being whisked off back down south. A little more on the casual side, you can pop by this cosy place any time.
5. 99 Hanover Street
Who knew a visit to the bank could be so fun? Taking your money but giving you a treat in return, 99 Hanover Street is easy to find and has a huge range of cocktails ideal for sharing or going solo. Fancy ceilings, heavy curtains and low lighting; it’s a great chill out spot that even old David Beckham and friends have been known to enjoy.
After a long day down Mary King’s Close, in the National Museum of Scotland or at the Holyrood Palace, all you’ll want to do is collapse in a comfy chair and knock back a tasty drink. Bramble is your place showing equal affection for whisky and gin-based drinks. You’ll have to work to find it though. Tucked away beneath a dry cleaners on Queen Street, this homely yet hip joint gives off a ‘Grandma’s house’ vibe allowing you to completely relax in what’s been hailed as one of the world’s top 50 bars.
7. Panda and Sons
Panda and Sons is all about the clandestine cocktails. Just bring your best spy game and make like you’re in need of a haircut by stopping by this Queen Street barber shop. Then, shimmy down the staircase, figure out the bookcase and you’ll be granted access to this slick speakeasy. Here, they throw it back to the prohibition era and serve their quirky cocktails inside hats, milk bottles and medicine viles — Instagram alert!
They also serve food here, so make sure you book in early to guarantee a table. Pretty much no chance if you just turn up on the night… I feel like they laughed at us when we tried.
8. Heads and Tales
The Scots’ love affair with whisky is well-known but, contrary to popular belief, they’re not a one drink kind of nation. In fact, a gin and tonic is almost up there with a ‘wee dram’ when it comes to popularity. In Edinburgh, they even distill a few of their own gin brands and you can see how it’s done in Heads and Tales bar.
Sit back in a plush leather chairs and slurp away on one of the 20 plus gin cocktails while watching the Flora and Caledonia stills fizzle down to make a bottle of Edinburgh Gin.
My favourite cocktail bar in Edinburgh
9. Lucky Liquor
I really liked it at Lucky Liquor. It was cosy without being stuffy, on a rainy April day, and the staff were chatty and friendly inside. It wasn’t as busy as the other places, and they made us feel welcome. Cool music, fun vibe and a great selection of cocktails. I definitely could’ve sat in here for a few hours, if it wasn’t for the fact I wanted to check out a few more of Edinburgh’s cocktail bars.
Make sure you include this one, just nestled in between Bramble and Panda and Sons, on your tour.