The Georgian New Town section of Edinburgh city is an eclectic collection of department stores, cocktail bars and alas, the main tram line routes. It’s also the beating nightlife heart of the capital and there are very few evenings out in Edinburgh that don’t ultimately wind up in a George Street bar or club. Use our guide to the Best New Town nightlife to ensure you end up in all the right places.
Something of a local secret for many years, Bramble has become one of the capital’s brightest nightlife spots. Patrons will need a map or GPS to locate it, however, given its location down a steep set of stairs in a stylish subterranean Queen Street cellar with only a small brass plaque to signify its presence. Once inside, the interior proves equally unassuming yet inviting. Bare stone walls, antique furniture and little cubby holes are dimly illuminated by subdued lighting and flickering candles.The impression of a speakeasy is ably complemented by the management’s ethos of artistry in the making of their drinks, striking a balance of serving up retro classic and fabulous new concoctions. House specialties include the Campbeltown (single malt whisky, Cherry Heering and green chartreuse) and the Mint Choc Flip, but drop in a well-placed word with one of the barmen and they’ll assemble a cocktail to your own preferences. Bramble is sound tracked by chilled-out soul and R’n’B slow jams and on Fridays and Saturdays, one can groove into the wee small hours with the establishment’s house DJs.
For an even more hush-hush speakeasy bar in Edinburgh’s New Town, Panda and Sons is well worth a drop-in visit while exploring the city. Opened in 2013, Panda and Sons, in a charming throwback to a sense of old-school mystery and discovering hidden treasures, is deceptively disguised by a vintage barber shop facade, replete with old fashioned blow-dry chair in the entrance foyer and a false bookcase doorway.. Once you’ve crossed the threshold, an ever-bustling cocktail joint awaits, overseen by award-winning bartender Iain McPherson. The drinks list is divided into chapters and thus feels expansive enough to seem like the liquor is always flowing. The level of invention varies from house twists on old standards such as the Red Panda take on a Bloody Mary (Tanqueray gin, tomato juice, Kaffir lime leaves, cucumber, lemon juice, Worcester sauce, Tabasco and a Guinness float) to the Liquid Brunch of Ketel One vodka, chamomile tea, fennel syrup, ginger wine and gentian de lure aperitif wine. Mop up the copious drinks with some light bites from the sharing snack menu on offer which features cheese and meat boards, pork scratchings and complimentary popcorn.
Made famous by local author and Edinburgh celebrity Alexander McCall Smith’s 44 Scotland Street series of books, the Cumberland Bar is a popular pub located down on quiet Cumberland Street and is an authentic yet refined Scottish boozer. The Sunday roast is a big draw but it is surely the prospect of a pint of Joker IPA or Caesar Augustus sipped outside in the shady beer garden that ensures return visits a-plenty. Book ahead for one of those sought-after outside tables.