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Old Town Edinburgh, Scotland | © Justin Black/Shutterstock
Old Town Edinburgh, Scotland | © Justin Black/Shutterstock
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The 10 Coolest Cocktail Bars in Edinburgh

Picture of Deborah Chu
Updated: 31 January 2018
From secretive speakeasies to more literary libations, Edinburgh‘s growing cocktail scene has something for everyone. A stellar ensemble of traditional fixtures and trendy up-and-comers, the mixology artisans here in Scotland‘s capital aren’t afraid to bend the rules in pursuit of the perfect drink. So if you’re looking for somewhere truly extraordinary to wet your whistle tonight, read on.

Juniper

Bar, British, $$$
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Let’s begin our journey in the heart of Edinburgh’s high street, where the famous Juniper resides. Located in the former drawing room of the old Royal British Hotel, Juniper’s concoctions draw upon this historic pedigree, but each with a fun, open-hearted twist. As its name suggests, these artisans love their gin, sampling liberally from Opihr Spiced, Arbikie Kirsty’s and hometown hero Edinburgh Gin. Their Juniper2 – a fruity burst of Edinburgh Elderflower Gin, kiwi puree, apple foam and fresh lemon – is an absolute delight. But don’t pigeonhole these maestros just yet, because their non-gin drinks are just as good. The luxurious Ordinary Madness in particular, concocted from a heady mixture of vanilla Stolichnaya, espresso and salted caramel syrup, is sure to get you buzzing.

© Courtesy of Juniper

© Courtesy of Juniper

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Mon - Thu:
12:00 pm - 11:30 pm
Fri - Sat:
12:00 pm - 12:30 am
Sun - None:
12:00 pm - 11:30 pm

Bryant and Mack Private Detectives

Bar, British, $$$
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This next cocktail joint is a bit tricky to find, but that’s half the fun of it. Bryant and Mack Private Detectives is a private eye-themed speakeasy, complete with a classic jazz soundtrack, furnishings straight out of Dashiell Hammett’s imagination, and an incredible cocktail menu brought to the table in a brown paper envelope labelled ‘confidential.’ Recently voted one of Scotland’s best bars by The Skinny, their cocktails have more twists than a Agatha Christie novel, and will also leave you wanting more. Be sure to try their surprisingly savoury Smokey and the Bandito, a mixture of apricot liqueur and black olive with a bite of chilli bitters.

© Courtesy of Bryant and Mack Private Detectives

© Courtesy of Bryant and Mack Private Detectives

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Mon - Thu:
5:00 pm - 1:00 am
Fri - Sun:
3:00 pm - 1:00 am

The Devil's Advocate

Bar, British, $$$
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Though The Devil’s Advocate (rightfully) gets a lot of attention for their 200-strong whisky selection, this Victorian pump house-turned-bar also has one of the most playful and artfully crafted cocktail menus in Edinburgh. A particular stand out is their sharp-and-fresh Camarena Uprise, a beautiful blend of Tapatio Blanco Tequila, honey and chili argon oil. Likewise, the Currach – whisky, port and pear – is served piping hot as an antidote to these cold Scottish winters.

© Courtesy of The Devil's Advocate

© Courtesy of The Devil’s Advocate

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Copper Blossom

Bar, British, $$$
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If it’s classic with a kick you’re looking for, then you’ve come to the right place. This light-filled basement bar, decorated in gentle florals and blonde wicker, oozes a genteel, American Deep South charm. But don’t let Copper Blossom’s snug interior fool you – their cocktail selection is both elegantly timeless and innovative. Served in nostalgically retro goblets, their take on your favourite cocktails is reliably delightful, such as their Plum’d Old Fashioned and the ‘Upbeet’ Margarita. Their original concoctions can be similarly sweet ‘n’ amiable, such as their wholesome-sounding Bramley Apple Crumble, blending Caorunn gin, apple, butterscotch and lemon. But they don’t pull their punches either: the hit of star anise in their rum-based Spice’d Girl will leave you gasping, and immediately coming back for more.

© Courtesy of Copper Blossom

© Courtesy of Copper Blossom

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The Printing Press Bar and Kitchen

Bar, British, $$$
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Situated in the former home of acclaimed Scottish novelist Susan Ferrier, a contemporary of Jane Austen, The Printing Press’ mixology menu is inspired by the pioneering work of their muse. Their ‘Literary Libations’ is sure to delight readers far and wide, especially the highly-apt Old Man and the Sea, a Havana rum and maraschino blend that would have made Hemingway proud. Their delicate mixture of gin, basil and grapefruit jam in their Writing Home cocktail is also definitely worth writing home about, as is the heady applewood scent off their Smoked Old Fashioned.

© Courtesy of The Printing Press Bar and Kitchen

© Courtesy of The Printing Press Bar and Kitchen

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Element

Bar, British, $$$
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Tucked away in amongst the boutiques of Rose Street, Element is the cozy Scottish bar and bistro of your tartan-clad dreams. This isn’t anything like your grandad’s local: rustic and stylish, sophisticated yet unfussy, Element’s menu is a tongue-in-cheek salute to Scotland’s grand institutions. Their Edin-Bru is a wonderfully tasty blend of Edinburgh Rhubarb Gin, vanilla vodka and lemon, whilst their One O’Clock Gun elevates the smoky Laphroaig with generous splashes of Campari and bourbon. Follow it up with a fortifying Bloody Mary, which they’ll make as spicy as you like, and you’ll be ceilidh-ing with the best of them in no time.

© Courtesy of Element

© Courtesy of Element

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Foundry 39

Bar, British, $$$
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Committed to the good and simple things in life, Foundry 39 focuses up on its dirty burgers and sourdough pizzas, but their cocktail menu is also a thing o’ beauty. Their love of big taste is evident in their resplendent Spicy Maria, which combines Aqua Riva tequila with poppy liquor, agave syrup, egg white and chocolate bitters for a sumptuous glass of divine love. The maple-smoked Meade to Measure, which mixes whiskey, banana liqueur and Meade honey beer reduction, is a languid summer barbeque in a glass. Though Foundry 39’s herringbone flooring and wood-and-rebar barstools might signal a dedication to the basics in both gastronomy and living, their cocktails speak to a higher calling indeed.

© Courtesy of Foundry 39

© Courtesy of Foundry 39

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Mon - Thu:
8:00 am - 12:00 am
Fri - None:
8:00 am - 1:00 am
Sat - None:
9:00 am - 1:00 am
Sun - None:
9:00 am - 11:00 pm

Lioness of Leith

Bar, British, $$$
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With pop art adorning the walls and menus showcasing the best in local and seasonal produce, the Lioness of Leith captures perfectly the buzz of their proud portside neighbourhood. And so too does their cocktail selection – the sparkling Rhubee Sipper, blending muddled rhubarb, Aperol, and Kwai Feh lychee liqueur – must be drained to its last drops. Their Cool Runnings also gives any rum-based concoction a run for its money, with its piquant wave of pineapple, chilli and gomme syrup.

© Courtesy of Lioness of Leith

© Courtesy of Lioness of Leith

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Mon - Thu:
12:00 pm - 1:00 am
Fri - Sat:
11:00 am - 1:00 am
Sun - None:
11:00 am - 12:00 am

Roseleaf

Bar, British, $$$
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Another Leith gem, Roseleaf is a lively, eclectic family-run bar and gastropub committed to seasonal and sustainable eating, and decorated with pre-loved furniture and your Gran’s finest porcelain knick-knackery. Their beloved ‘pot’-tails – or cocktails served in adorably kitschy teapots – are both whimsical and delicious. Their Nae Groany is a cheeky Scottish take on the classic Negroni, featuring a mix of Edinburgh-based Pickering’s gin, Aperol and Cocchi Rosa. Or try their Bloody Bakewell, blending cherry brandy and amaretto into a boozy version of the cherished tart.

© Courtesy of Roseleaf

© Courtesy of Roseleaf

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Paradise Palms

Bar, British, $$$
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Last but certainly not least, Paradise Palms is a favourite of students and locals alike for their delicious vegetarian fare and tropical joie de vivre. Their Jurassic Julep is a classic tiki mixture of bourbon, cordial, pinapple and lemon, whilst their Ricky Martin pays tribute to the great Spanish chanteur with mescal, Aperol and passionfruit syrup. Or, since sharing is indeed caring, opt for one of their highly-potent sharing teapot concoctions like the Paradise Sangria, blending Zinfandel rose, Lillet Rouge, passionfruit, pineapple and lemonade. Sheer heaven on earth.

Paradise Palms

© Courtesy of Paradise Palms

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