Drinks in the well-heeled Scottish capital often come at a hefty price, but there are cheap hidden gems to be discovered. Whether you prefer your libations quirky or classic, themed bars, student haunts and low-key restaurants are some of the locations serving great-value cocktails.
Edinburgh has a reputation for innovation, especially when it comes to food and drink, and there’s an abundance of fashionable bars at which to discover mouth-watering new concoctions. So, if you’re seeking a budget-friendly place to stop and sip, read on for Culture Trip’s guide to the best places to enjoy affordable cocktails in the city.
Drink beneath the stars at Bar 50
Bar, Cafe, Cocktail Bar, Cocktails, $$$
One of Edinburgh’s best-kept secrets, Bar 50 is hidden from view just off the lively Cowgate. It’s part of a rental apartment block and has one of the best outdoor covered terraces in the area. The small but excellent value cocktail menu includes locally inspired libations such as the Porty Pink Lady and Blackfriars iced tea (both are £7.45 per glass or £13.45 for a pitcher). A classic white russian will set you back £6.45. The music is mainstream and loud, giving it a party vibe. There’s also a pool table and big-screen TVs that show various sports. Take your beverage outside if you prefer a calmer ambience.
It may be better known as a friendly neighbourhood pizza bar, but this Italian street-food eatery also offers an appealing range of wallet-friendly summery cocktails to drink in or take away. Enjoy frozen margaritas and daiquiris all year round in funky bright surroundings. Civerinos is kooky, drawing hip young diners with its loud retro tunes, casual atmosphere and fun decor. For something a little different, try the frozen Aperosa made with Aperol, Skyy Vodka and blood orange San Pelligrino, or an amaretto sour slushy for £6.
Enjoy riverside drinks at the Paper Mill, a stylish neighbourhood bar with a large restaurant area, extensive cocktail menu and beautiful views. With a large urban-styled outdoor terrace overlooking the river, it’s always busy and buzzing when then the sun’s out. While the Paper Mill has some pricier options, a bloody mary is just £6.35, with classics such as daiquiris, mojitos and martinis starting at £6.95. Alternatively, try a twist on the margarita – the Mexican Mill or Voodoo I Do also go for £6.95.
Restaurant, Mexican, Contemporary, Street Food, Gluten-free, $$$
Take a wander along Leith Walk, and you’ll reach this compact Mexican taqueria with funky furnishings, steampunk lighting and bright retro posters. The street-food menu is small, but everything is fresh and funky, including the hip-hop soundtrack. There’s a BYOB policy for wine, but the authentically tangy house margaritas are made in-house with gomme syrup and come with a £6 price tag. Upgrade to a fancier version (with coconut, elderflower, grapefruit, passionfruit or a branded tequila) for £7.
Unconventional, eccentric and totally unique, the Dog House is a vibrant canine-themed indie bar brimming with an eclectic mix of bric-a-brac. It’s located in the Newington area south of the city centre and attracts an alternative and student crowd. A revolving menu of brightly coloured unique and sugary cocktails are mixed by the friendly team at £6 a pop, including the sweet and youthful Drumstick Lolly. A small selection of bar food is available to order, and patrons can play on the Sega Mega Drive, join in with a quiz or listen to some live music.
Lebowskis is found in the commercial district of the city, and The Big Lebowski (1998) plays on a loop in this quirky themed bar. It specialises in white russians – the drink takes over two pages of its cocktail menu – and a basic version costs just £5, with more elaborate versions up to £6.50. Other types of cocktails are available too, all of which have been uniquely named by the bar. The vibe is urban, upbeat and lively, with a small suntrap exterior seating area at the front of the building.