There’s nothing like stumbling across a classic pub or hidden away drinking den, where locals are sipping their favorite craft brews or a wee dram or two of whisky and there may even be a roaring fire keeping everyone toasty. But if you’re visiting Edinburgh and want to stay off the tourist trail, how can you know where to head to escape the cold and warm up with a drink? You can certainly start with our guide to 5 of the best local pubs, bars, and speakeasies, so you can drink like a local in Edinburgh.
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Situated in the Old Town not too far from the National Museum of Scotland and Surgeons Hall, the Brass Monkey is a classic Edinburgh watering hole. Perhaps the best thing about this bar is not the drinks (which of course are top notch) but the bar’s quirks. In a separate room at the back you can find a room full of giant sofas, almost like beds. There’s something so fun about lying back with a drink in hand, and the room is also decorated with super hip posters of old school bands. Not only is the novelty of what feels like having a beer in bed enough to wow you, but this little back room is also equipped with a cinema screen. The room can be hired out, and often is by university societies etc. Rumour has it if you appear at a certain time in the afternoon you can even pick from their list of films and watch away, drink in hand.
The Holyrood 9A has a fantastic selection of beers on tap and bottled alike. The bartenders are super friendly and very happy to recommend a beer, or several, to you. There’s always an excellent vibe, regulars can be there almost every night for a few pints. As an added bonus they also have a burger restaurant with a separate seating area to the back so you can find the perfect beer to match your burger or vice versa! The bar itself it must be said is in a slightly odd location, which is probably why it’s mostly brimming with locals. Yet it’s actually very close to the famous Royal Mile and Waverley station, and sits on the way down to the parliament and Arthur’s seat. Inside it’s quite dark and there are charming candles dotted all around dripping wax wherever they stand.
Under The Stairs
If high-class cocktails are your thing, this is definitely the bar for you. Along with most of the food and drink industry in Edinburgh, you can really tell the staff not only are experts at what they do but take great pride in doing it. They also have a kitchen which does excellent food. This bar is located just of the Grassmarket and by Cowgate and is quite literally under some stairs in the lower ground floor of a classic Edinburgh tenement. The decor is equally classy as the food and drink, making it the perfect spot for a very sophisticated date night or catch up venue.
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Panda and Sons
This bar would probably not be classed as a typical local bar with regulars, but the locals certainly love it too. And rightly so, as who doesn’t love a speakeasy! The entrance to the bar is a well hidden secret; head through an old fashioned Chicago style barber shop, and find the handle hidden amongst other books in a book case! It’s so well hidden, you’d be forgiven for completely missing it, even though it’s in a part of town that’s full of other bars and restaurants. Like Under The Stairs, the cocktails are here are the stars of the show. Think all things gin! And the fact that you also get little cartons of movie style popcorn doesn't go amiss, especially with flavours as tempting as sriracha!
The Canny Man’s
A traditional Edinburgh haunt, once labelled by Rick Stein as ‘The best Pub in the World’, this is a real gem if you want to get a taste for authentic local Edinburgh drinking. The slightly weathered rustic décor – comprised mainly of personal trinkets, dark wood furniture and original fixtures – illustrates the theme of ‘proper Edinburgh pub’. Boasting an impressive level of attention to detail, this pub also has no connection to specific brewers, choosing instead to only produce the finest of individual brewer’s beer. The pub’s malt list includes whiskeys ranging from five to forty two years old and these reside in the unchanged ‘main bar’ of the pub. It’s in the back bar that locals mainly relax and sip away at some of Edinburgh’s finest liquors.
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