The Scottish capital has a cosmopolitan mix of people that make the city come alive, especially at night, and astag do in Edinburghwill be easy to pull off with so many places to choose from. With traditional taverns side-by-side with contemporary bars, the sheer number of diverse places to grab a drink can seem overwhelming, but if you choose the right place, you’re guaranteed a great night.
The Bow Bar
Nestled in Old Town, detached enough to enjoy a relaxed atmosphere, The Bow Bar is a top destination for malt whisky lovers. Head inside, and it’s unpretentious and simply furnished in traditional pub style. There are over 230 malt whiskies, eight cask ales and a great selection of bottled beers, plus suggestions from the helpful bar staff mean you’ll always find something you’ll enjoy.
Sitting next to the King’s Theatre, Bennets Bar is a beautifully restored, listed pub with ornate stained glass and Victorian furnishings merged with modern touches. Theatre-goers, students and loyal old-timers all love it with its reputation for having a great selection of craft beer, cask ales and single malt whiskies. If you’re feeling peckish, it has a decent food menu too.
The Cafe Royal Circle Bar
Tucked away in the city centre behind Princes Street is this beautiful Parisian-style building with stained glass, a magnificent oval bar and Doulton tile portraits of celebrated Victorian inventors. While it has a few cask ales and a good selection of whisky, it’s the food menu is unmissable. Try the oysters or seafood platter, or for traditional pub grub, there’s also haggis and fish and chips.
The Sheep Heid Inn
Hidden away in the picturesque Duddingston Village, in the shadow of Arthur’s Seat, The Sheep Heid Inn was once a favourite amongst monarchs and poets; now it’s one of Edinburgh's oldest surviving places to enjoy good food and drink. With cosy open fires, comfy cushions and a beer garden, you’ll feel right at home. You can even hire a 19th-century skittle alley for the evening.
Celebrated as one of the greatest folk music venues in Edinburgh, Sandy Bell’s is a point of pilgrimage for fans of traditional music. It’s a place of unconventional spontaneity where musicians are free to join in with headliners, not for performance, but for the sheer enjoyment of it. The wooden interiors and extensive list of beers and whiskey make it a relaxing and welcoming place to be.
The Caley Sample Room
Named after the Caledonian brewery down the road, this gastropub in Edinburgh’s North Merchiston showcases local breweries with nine real ale lines and more than 40 speciality beers as well as wines and spirits. With thoughtful takes on classic pub grub and traditional Scottish dishes like haggis, neeps and tatties in a whisky sauce, it’s more than your average gastropub.
The Royal Oak
For folk music, The Royal Oak, hidden on a side street just off North Bridge, is a classic, intimate venue. Upstairs, local musicians visit during the day to play for tips, drinks or simply the love of music. Every night is different, but you’ll find it’s always down-to-earth with live music and a great selection of drinks from Scottish whiskey to barrels of gin.
The Holyrood 9A
In Edinburgh’s Old Town, just off the Royal Mile, The Holyrood 9A offers 20 beer taps, featuring premium European lagers, several craft beers from local breweries, guest ales and even a classic cocktail list too. While it may have a great drink selection, its the gourmet burgers that steal the show, including The Holyrood - a beef burger with Hereford Hop cheese, red onion chutney, beer mustard mayo and rocket.
With two locations, one in Cowgate and the other on Lothian Road, this craft beer chain offers its own home-brewed BrewDog beer as well as IPAs, a lager named ‘This. Is. Lager.’ and a selection of top quality guest draughts. The exposed brick, wood decor and high backed booths make it a simple yet tasteful venue for you to try out local beers and handmade, crispy-based pizzas.
The warm glow of an atmospheric, traditional pub is the heart of Scottish culture and will no doubt form part of yourstag do in Edinburgh. Plus with a proud beer brewing heritage this makes it perfect for lovers of real ales, craft beers and of course, scotch.