Edinburgh has become such a recognisable and well-known city that it is getting increasingly more challenging to walk the cobbles and discover a bar or club you perhaps haven’t heard of. A city synonymous with mysteries however, Edinburgh has a wealth of hidden gems waiting to be unearthed. While finding a quirky and unusual bar is easily done, to find the truly secret bars, you have to be ready to delve into all the nooks and crannies the capital has to offer.
Nestled amidst the bustling Rose Street drinking scene, Bryant and Mack brings a new flavour to an area known for old-fashioned Gastropubs. Under the guise of a private detective agency, the bar is reminiscent of Speakeasy in New York and Chicago. They specialise in classical cocktails with a twist as well as house favourites like the Black Tea Fleming and Kettle and Lemongrass Gimlet. This one is truly as secret as it gets.
Located in the basement of 7 Hanover Street, Hoot The Redeemer is a cocktail bar like no other. From the owners of fellow secret bar ‘Panda and Sons’, to enter you are asked a question by a tarot door. Once inside, you are whisked away to a 1950s funfair complete with a boozy ice-cream vending machine. The attention to detail in the place is incredible, every visit brings a new discovery. If you’re one for whimsy, this is the place for you.
Known mostly to the nearby art student crowd, Dragonfly is the funkiest cocktail bar in the Grassmarket. Despite regular comedy nights and a stellar menu, it remains one of Edinburgh’s lesser-known bars and is often overlooked for more famous eateries in Grassmarket like The Last Drop. The Ripple Effect, a house classic is now in its fourth generation and blends the nostalgia of raspberry ripple ice cream with fruity and floral El Gobernador Pisco; a stellar combination.
This is not your average pub. Records of the cosy Duddingston pub span back to 1360, with legend of Mary Queen of Scots having visited between visiting Craigmillar and Holyrood Royal Palaces. As well as some exciting patrons, this unique pub just so happens to also have its own bowling alley on-site, which dates back to the Victorian era. History buffs and lovers of tradition will be right at home in this lesser-known hidden gem.
From the outside, the Mousetrap looks to be a very ordinary pub, and on Leith walk surrounded by many others it is often overlooked. Once you head in though, the boring regular pub facade quickly fades and the pub becomes a gamers paradise. The interior of the pub blends the new(ish) with the old; old school arcade games alongside traditional board games. Complete with American dive bar aesthetic and butterbeer on tap, this pub is like no other you’ll find in Edinburgh.
This bar in Edinburgh’s New Town is tiny but packs in a punch and is always busy. The cocktail menu is always exciting, every 13 weeks they create 13 new drinks from 13 bottles: 13, of course, to be in keeping with the lucky theme. Often the mixes incorporate more unusual and sometimes homemade ingredients, so you’re guaranteed always to find something new to enjoy.
In Edinburgh’s west end, this bar is exactly what you think it is; based on ‘The Big Lebowski’. Known predominantly by locals and being just out of the main city, this bar often gets forgotten about by students and tourists but always has a fun atmosphere. Known for brilliant burgers and of course White Russian cocktails, you needn’t have seen the film to enjoy this place.
Edinburgh’s lively George Street is known for its big cocktail bars and pubs, but most people have yet to visit Tonic. This place not only has excellent classic cocktails but also has in house DJs Stefan Peterson and Mark Benaicha 3 days a week. A perfect spot on a night out, this spot has it all: singing, dancing and of course, some boozing.
Edinburgh’s best curry house Dishoom on St Andrews Square is far from a secret-what you might not know about is the incredible bar that lies beneath the kitchen. The Permit Room has all you could ask for and more: fantastic service and stellar drinks, Instagram worthy décor, delicious nibbles and to top it off, authentic Parsi Theatre evenings which are a rare but incredible experience. A must-visit for those who want a great meal before an even better night out.
This bar is not only insanely instagrammable, but also has a super fun, vibrant but homely atmosphere to match. One of the many bars on Lothian road, the espresso martinis are what make this place great. Their aesthetic is one to boost any feed; rustic walls, marble tables, houseplants and foliage by the dozen, plus a neon sign worthy of featuring in the night out selfies. Fantastic drinks in a gorgeous venue-what more could you want?