Words by Simon Difford
Edinburgh’s cocktail bartenders seem to strive to outdo one another in creating imaginative new drinks and in both terms of its bars and cocktails, this city punches well above its relatively small size.
Follows our pick of Edinburgh's best cocktail bars, listed according to whether they are in Old Town or New Town:
The Old Town
9 Advocate's Close (off Royal Mile), Edinburgh, EH1 1ND
From the same stable as Bon Vivant (see below) comes the Devil's Advocate, a superb bar and restaurant situated in the historical Old Town, just off the Royal Mile in a modernised Victorian pump house. Although in the heart of the tourist district it is tucked safely away from the main drag - down the steep steps of Advocate's Close.
Difford's Guide rating: 5/5 [Devil's Advocate info & review]
57-61 High Street (Royal Mile), Edinburgh, EH1 1S
A fairy-lit passageway off the Royal Mile leads to this semi- subterranean bar and restaurant which offers a good beer and wine menu, great cocktails and some very tasty "Grazing" snacks such as Haggis Bon Bons.
Difford's Guide rating: 4.5/5 [Monteiths info & review]
The New Town
Auld Reekie Tiki Bar
43B Frederick Street, New Town, Edinburgh, EH2 1EP
Despite being semi-subterranean, Auld Reekie's location on Frederick Street is easy to spot due to its roadside wicker tables and chairs. The cocktail menu (initially borrowed from the Kitch Inn) features mainstay Tiki classics, along with signature concoctions. Unusually for Edinburgh, Auld Reekie has a 3am licence.
Difford's Guide rating: 4/5 [Auld Reekie info & review]
The Bon Vivant
55 Thistle Street, Edinburgh, EH2 1DY
Bon Vivant is a charming little place with the feel of an old-fashioned tea-shop but a modern European food menu, a good wine list and some of the very best cocktails in Edinburgh. Defined as 'a person who enjoys the good things in life, especially good food and drink' this is truly a bar for Bon Vivants.
Difford's Guide rating: 5/5 [Bon Vivant info & review]
Bramble Bar & Lounge
16A Queen Street, Edinburgh, EH2 1JE
To quote owner Jason Scott, "Named for Dick Bradsell's modern classic cocktail, Bramble is by name as Bramble is by nature: uncomplicated, inventive and downright tasty." This unpretentious little semi-subterranean bar has been at the forefront of the Edinburgh cocktail scene since its inception in 2008.
Difford's Guide rating: 4.5/5 [Bramble info & review]
Bryant & Mack Private Detectives Cocktail Bar
87-89 Rose Street North Lane, Edinburgh, EH2 3DT
Named after co-owners Ross Bryant and Jason Cormack, their tiny speakeasy-styled bar has seating is for a mere 20 or so. This, along with a no standing policy, may mean you have to persevere to secure a table. However, you'll be rewarded with tasty classically styled cocktails.
Difford's Guide rating: 4.5/5 [Bryant & Mack info & review]
Hoot The Redeemer
No. 7 Hanover Street (Princes St), Edinburgh, EH2 2DL
This subterranean bar is themed around a 1950s New Orleans' funfair and serves alcoholic ice-cream and frozen cocktails dispensed from slush machines.
Difford's Guide rating: 4/5 [Hoot The Redeemer info & review]
Lucky Liquor Co
39A Queen Street, Edinburgh, EH2 3NH
A quirky bar that is styled somewhere between soda parlour, ice-cream shop and cocktail bar, Lucky Liquor is aptly named after the fact the bar carries just 13 types of alcohol and offers 13 cocktails on a menu that changes every 13 weeks. Lucky for some...
Difford's Guide rating: 4.5/5 [Lucky Liquor info & review]
Nightcap Restaurant & Bar
3 York Place, Edinburgh, EH1 3EB
Spread across two floors, Nightcap offers a great mix of cocktails and food - both served until 1am. Head downstairs and be sure to have the chicken wings washed down with a signature Nightcap Cocktail.
Difford's Guide rating: 4/5 [Nightcap info & review]
Panda & Sons
79 Queen Street, Edinburgh, EH2 4NF
The entrance to this speakeasy-style basement lounge is signed Panda & Sons Barbershop. Walls of bookshelves and vintage-style knickknacks such as old lamps and gramophones add to the loungy feel. And yes, there are stuffed pandas - not real ones obviously.
Difford's Guide rating: 4/5 [Panda & Sons info & review]
The Voyage of Buck
29-31 William Street North East Lane, Edinburgh, EH3 7NF
This dimly lit, pub-like space has a broad offering from cask ales to cocktails, and breakfast through to dinner. Both food and cocktails are well regarded.
Difford's Guide rating: 4/5 [Voyage of Buck info & review ]