Where to Drink + Dance in Edinburgh, Scotland

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Bramble

Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Bramble Bar has spawned three other equally delectable drinking dens beside it across the city, but this is the original, and arguably, the best of the trio. A subterranean refuge we’d happily never resurface from.

Address

16A Queen Street EH2 1JE

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The Last Word Saloon

Edinburgh, United Kingdom

This subterranean Stockbridge hangout is as intimate as it gets, with cosy leather arm chairs, dimmed lighting and roaring open fires. The perfect choice for a first date, their cocktails menu is extensive and the waiters incredibly attentive. Try ‘who dares wins’ for citrusy gin-based drink or the Arnaud’s No.6 with black bottle whisky and hibiscus syrup for something a little meatier.

Address

44 St Stephen Street EH3 5AL

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Lucky Liquor

Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Run by the team behind Bramble, Lucky Liquor is the aforementioned Bramble’s cool sibling. Impossible to miss for its “Lucky” neon sign outside, this newly opened New York-style bar features retro teal chairs and a monochrome tiled floor. Confining itself to 13 cocktails and 13 spirits on any given night and changing seasonally, is more than reason enough to sample half a dozen concoctions before they’re gone from the menu. Try the Megawatt – it is made with a pisco base and comes serves in a light bulb.

Address

33 Queen Street EH2 3NH

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The Sheep Heid

Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Established in 1603, this small Duddingston inn is the oldest pub in Scotland. With its dark wooden interior, leather armchairs arranged around a fireplace and more board games than you could ever have wished for as a child, this is one of the city’s cosiest corners.

Address

43-45 The Causeway EH15 3QA

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The Jazz Bar

Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Edinburgh nightlife is not as vibrant or dynamic as its cooler sibling, Glasgow. The string of nightclubs on George Street cater for cheesy classics but what Edinburgh does best is kept relatively quiet. Over in Old Town sits a jazz den of pure, unadulterated musical pleasure. A night spent listening to live music, drink in hand and surrounded by fellow music lovers is always going to be a night well spent.

Address

1A Chambers Street EH1 1HR

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Sneaky Pete's

Edinburgh, United Kingdom

More of a gig venue than a nightclub, Sneaky Pete and his 200-capacity room host some of the best live music in town. With a strong loyalty to local artists, expect to see some of Scotland’s hottest exports such as Rustie, Eclair Fifi and Frightened Rabbit inside of these four walls.

Address

73 Cowgate Midlothian EH1 1JW

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Panda & Sons

Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Speakeasies are now well and truly engrained in Edinburgh’s drinking scene. Panda & Sons is hidden not only behind a barbershop but also behind a bookcase – meaning astuteness is key to getting inside. Here, cocktail concoctions arrive in smoking bell jars, meaning couples can (and often do) “get acquainted” through the fog. If you’ve a predilection for whisky, go for The Boulevardier or Robinson Caruso.

Address

79 Queen Street EH2 4NF

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Scottish Malt Whisky Society

Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Scottish Malt Whisky Society’s original home down in Leith transports you back to the age of Scottish enlightenment, tucked away in the sordid streets of the former port-side district of disrepute. The Queen Street residence is a more central refuge and includes a restaurant for those who can’t bear to tear themselves away back to their own flats in the real world.

Address

Queen Street Midlothian EH2

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Heads and Tails

Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Located in the basement of the Rutland hotel, Heads and Tails is one of the best bars in Edinburgh’s West End. Serving up tapas-style sliders at pretty competitive prices, there’s no need to call heads or tails when it comes to deciding where to go post-work – everyone’s already en route here.

Address

1a Rutland Place EH1 2AD

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The Devil’s Advocate

Edinburgh, United Kingdom

With exposed brick walls, rough wooden beams and a backlit bar, The Devil’s Advocate is a renovated Victorian pump house nestled down an alleyway just off the Royal Mile. Its 400-strong whisky shelf beckons in those in search of a wee dram. If you get a bit peckish, the extravagant food menu is enough to tempt you into buying hand-cut chips, garlic and maple chicken wings or even a chimichurri steak.

Address

9 Advocate's Close EH1 1ND

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The Pear Tree

Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Right next to George Square, this pub is a firm favourite among locals and an ideal spot for a pint between shows. Huddle up next to the fire inside if the weather’s blustery or, on a sunny afternoon, nab a table in the beer garden, where The Garden Grill serves up heaped plates of burgers and chips.

Address

38 West Nicolson Street EH8 9DD

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Paradise Palms

Edinburgh, United Kingdom

This stalwart of a bar can be found right in the centre of the Fringe action. Come for innovative Scottish twists on classic cocktails (try the Aye-Tai or the Buckfast Daiquiri), or stop by on Fridays and Saturdays for fun-filled events including cabaret nights, cocktail-making classes and drag brunches.

Address

41 Lothian Street EH1 1HB

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Hoot the Redeemer

Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Noticeable only by a red lantern hanging outside, this place transports visitors to 50s New Orleans. Fortune tellers, arcade games and ice cream machines are dotted around the venue, while cocktails are themed around different tarot cards. From the brains behind Panda & Sons, this speakeasy is just as fun (if slightly more wacky).

Address

7 Hanover Street EH2 1DJ

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Sandy Bell’s

Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Whether it’s the kilt-clad man playing the bagpipes to the delight of tourists or the towering castles that house their fair share of ghosts, tradition runs deep in the streets of Edinburgh – and Sandy Bell’s is a manifestation of that. Pouring pints since the 20s and championing Scottish folk music (it’s fun, we swear) since the 60s, Sandy Bell’s is an Edinburgh institution as embedded into the landscape as Arthur’s Seat. The live music is best experienced sitting at the carved wooden bar with a steak-and-ale pie in front of you, a Scotsman chatting your ear off, merry locals dancing a jig and a pint of beer followed by a whisky… just don’t ask for a mixer.

Address

25 Forrest Rd Edinburgh EH1 2QH

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Summerhall

Edinburgh, United Kingdom

At Edinburgh’s Summerhall it’s Fringe all year long; a home to art exhibitions, live music, swing classes and some of the capital’s best ceilidhs. The culture hub’s motto is “opening minds and opening doors” and one such door belongs to The Royal Dick. While its proximity to life-drawing classes and world-renowned art is definitely an allure, this pub is a destination in its own right too. Housed in the former small animal hospital of the Dick Vet School, it’s decked out with a bric-a-brac assortment of old fittings and contemporary furniture, with a sprinkling of art plastered on maroon walls. The alcohol offering, however, is much more considered, featuring a brewery and gin distillery on-site. Good times, guaranteed.

Address

1 Summerhall Edinburgh EH9 1PL