Five of the best bars in Edinburgh

A weekend in Edinburgh is ample time to hit the capital’s top cocktail bars, and if you look beyond bright lights and dance floors of George Street you’ll discover that Auld Reekie has a wealth of hidden gems to give any other city in the UK a run for its money.

Here Alex, master dipsologist at gives us five of his favourites:

Five of the best bars in Edinburgh

best bars in edinburgh

1. The Last Word Saloon

A second bar from the team behind the fabulously successful Bramble (see also their newest addition to the scene, Lucky Liquor Co at 39A Queen Street), the Last Word is situated in the basement of a Stockbridge townhouse. A neighbourhood bar with a laid-back attitude and some nice fireside armchairs, you’re more likely to find jazz than hip-hop on the stereo, but the drinks bear all the trademarks of one of the best bars in Edinburgh.

Website| 44 Saint Stephen Street, Stockbridge

2. The Devil’s Advocate

This bar and restaurant from the team behind the Bon Vivant serves up a menu of fine modern Scottish food and selection of carefully crafted cocktails to suit all tastes. The whisky list is impressive and the converted Victorian pumphouse with high windows and exposed beams has a fine industrial feel. The juxtaposition of old and new continues on the cocktail menu which features modern twists on ‘forgotten’ classics such as the BV Sazerac and the Devil’s Blacklist with stout and spiced banana caramel. The ‘borrowed’ section also features loaned recipes from the world’s best bartenders.

Website | 9 Advocate’s Close

3. Bramble Bar

One of Edinburgh’s longest-running cocktail bars, a regular in world top bars lists and the breeding ground for a number of the UK’s top bartenders, Bramble is responsible for putting the Edinburgh cocktail scene on the map. The grungy cellar bar is well-hidden (underneath a tailor’s shop) but well worth seeking out. The drinks range from classics like the light citrsusy namesake and their cask-aged Glenfiddich Affinity to complex modern creations like the Labyrinth which features their homemade smoked rye ale syrup. DJs play every Friday and Saturday night – expect classic hip-hop – and the vibe is relaxed, respectful and chic.

Website | 16a Queen Street

4. Panda & Sons

A young upstart on the Edinburgh scene, Panda and Sons is another cellar bar on Queen Street, hidden behind a bookshelf and only a stone’s throw from the First Minister’s house. Don’t expect to find Nicola Sturgeon in here, but do expect exotic modern drinks, panda family photos and barbershop memorabilia. The cocktails are adventurous; try the Red Panda (a snapper with a Guinness float) or the Milky Bar Hero (served in mini milk bottles). The décor is quirky and fun, the clientèle varied.

Website | 79 Queen Street

5. Heads & Tales Gin Bar

Housed in the Edinburgh Gin distillery, so don’t expect a wide range of complex mescal and Chartreuse concoctions. However, for delightful Victorian speakeasy style and well-balanced gin-based drinks Heads & Tales is a great choice. Besides, where else can you see your drink being made (from scratch) before you enjoy it?

Website | Rutland Street, West End