Top 50 Cocktail Bars


Panda and Sons

Edinburgh, Midlothian

Don’t be fooled by the street-level barber shop exterior, Edinburgh cocktail bar Panda and Sons is waiting just on the other side of a hidden door.

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Although themed, it is certainly not a venue of style over substance and the cocktails on offer are first-class, refined and intelligent.

The false exterior is all part of the prohibition-style disguise. Once you get downstairs, the prohibition theme remains strong with witty curiosities adorning the walls and dim lighting. It is a wonderful experience.

The current menu 'Transcend' is dedicated to freezing techniques. The menu is a culmination of five years of exploratory research and development by Iain McPherson, Nicky Craig and the Panda & Sons team.

There are four chapters of the menu to peruse and presented in numerical order, each showcasing various skills in the drinks’ creation. Although there is a wide choice of menus, the selection of drinks on each is relatively concise.

Chapter one is called 'Switching' in which they use ultra-low freezers, to freeze large quantities of water from the spirits. They then ‘switch’ the frozen part for another flavour. 

Chapter two titled 'Sous Spression' is an alternative to the chamber vacuum and/or sous vide process to help extract flavours. 

Next, the menu moves to 'Frezze Drying' and then to 'Cryo Concemtration' with drinks reflecting and highlighting these techniques. 

A little history about the venue tells us Panda and his kin launched the family-run Edinburgh prohibition-style bar in November 2013 and it has since gone from strength to strength.

Panda is still very much involved in the business, while his two sons – Rupert and wee Benson – will be much more involved soon.

On the bar’s website, Panda says: “We are a hidden bar fusing the classic Prohibition style Speakeasy and a nod to the vintage-style barbershop.

“All we can say is that if you find a barbershop with some foreign currency, you have made it to the libation destination.”

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