Top 50 Cocktail Bars

5 bars that are worth visiting Edinburgh for

If you needed an excuse to visit Edinburgh, we’ve got five of them for you. Let us show you the city’s bar excellence.

Charli Tomney | 24/06/2024

Imagine walking through cobblestone streets, the faint sound of bagpipes in the distance, and the scent of malt whisky in the air. Welcome to Edinburgh, where history and modern day collide in the most charming way possible.

Beyond the castles, Irn Bru and deep-fried mars bars, there lies a whole world of magnificent mixology waiting to be discovered. Here are five bars that are not just worth a visit but are the very reason you should pack your bags and head to Scotland’s capital.

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Starting things off on Bread Street, Hey Palu, currently the best bar in Scotland as voted for by our academy. Nestled in the heart of Edinburgh's Old Town, Hey Palu is more than just a bar—it's an intimate, stylish haven for cocktail enthusiasts.

With a killer playlist setting the perfect backdrop, this gem combines the Italian Aperitivo culture with a love for modern classic cocktails. Boasting an extensive Amari collection with nearly 60 varieties from across Italy, Hey Palu has become a go-to destination for those seeking the bittersweet allure of this specialty liqueur.

The menu boasts an array of cocktails including Palu’s Favourites, which features drinks such as rhubarb Americano and a dirty vodka martini. The main list includes their own takes on classics such as coconut white Russian or Jamaican old fashioned. Why not pay £11 for dealer’s choice and allow the team to choose your drink.

The highly accoladed bar, including winning Bar Team of the Year at Top 50 Cocktail Bars in 2023, showcases why this cocktail bar is a standout in Edinburgh's vibrant nightlife scene.

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A little further out of town in Tollcross you’ll find The Wildcat. Known for its intimate atmosphere and eclectic decor, this bar has quickly become a favourite among locals and visitors alike. The bar specialises in craft cocktails that are as imaginative as they are delicious, beer, wine, whisky and everything in between.

3 years ago, two friends with a passion for good drinks and no bullsh*t took the bar on, despite opening during a lockdown the bar has seen nothing but success. The go-to spot for people in the neighbourhood and being recognised as the 46th best bar in the UK, its one not to miss when visiting Edinburgh.

The menu is packed with flavour but served simply, like the Pesca Picante, which has become a favourite with the bar’s regulars, a blend of chipotle butter washed mezcal, Aperol, Rinquinquin, maraschino and lemon which creates a refreshing, smoky and fruity drink. Their house Gimlet has an interesting twist with Sichuan, fennel and lime cordial.

Taking a trip down Queen Street there are two bars you absolutely cannot walk past without having a dram, although some might not be what they seem.

Disguised as a vintage barbershop and celebrated for its innovative cocktails and whimsical atmosphere, Panda & Sons is a speakeasy-style bar that is known globally. The bar has garnered a plethora of accolades including a spot on the World's 50 Best Bars list and multiple nominations for Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards as well as being named 9th best bar in the UK.

Offering a creative menu called Transcend, which highlights unique techniques, flavours and ingredients, you’re sure to find something you’ll love. Drinks are packed full of flavour like Solasta, a clean and lush tasting cocktail with a touch of smoke, using Johnnie Walker Gold whisky Talisker 10 whisky, Marsala wine, Pastis and lemon verbena.

Renowned for its exceptional service and imaginative presentation, Panda & Sons is a must-visit for cocktail aficionados seeking an unforgettable experience in the heart of the city.

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A wee walk away also on Queen Street you’ll find a bar which is extremely popular among bartenders worldwide, Bramble Bar & Lounge. Once you find it, you won’t want to leave. This cocktail bar offers private nooks for intimate drinks, perfect for a romantic evening or a night out with friends.

Despite its accolades, including being listed in The World’s 50 Best Bars, it remains unpretentious with friendly, expert bartenders who love sharing their craft. Their carefully created menu has something for everyone. Whether you're looking for something rooted in classical bartending or wanting to try something more adventurous, you're sure to find it.

Drinks on the current menu include classics, and their namesake, Bramble, and more adventurous serves like Get Steppin’ which is made with Quiquirqui mezcal, Sipello and Merlet apricot.

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Over on Duke Street you can drop your anchor and get comfortable at ocean-themed Nauticus. While the bar embraces a theme, it's not over-the-top; instead, it subtly hints at the sea's magic with decor that resembles mermaid scales.

Nauticus was founded by Kyle and Iain to champion Scottish produce. After extensive research, they created a bar where 90% of the products are Scottish or have Scottish links. Named after Leith's historical ties with shipping and global trade.

But let's talk drinks—Nauticus boasts a superb selection highlighting Scotland's rich drink-making heritage. Golden Hour is a bitter sweet martini just gives layers of juicy fruit and uses Ancnoc 12, Chardonnay Vermouth, bitter liqueur and grapefruit.

The enchanting bar staff are dedicated to providing top-notch service, expertly guiding you to a drink you'll love.