It's Friday and I have cocktails on my mind, which reminded me of a tour of some of Edinburgh's hidden cocktail bars with a few photo stops along the way which I put together with Yelp last year, and felt it was definitely time to revisit. Any excuse for a few fancy drinks. Cheers!
So first up (because its a hop and a skip from home, and it would be rude to go past without stopping in for a snifter) is Panda and Sons. It's a slight mission to find, enter the barbers' shop, go down the stairs then step through the secret door hidden inside a bookcase. Their menu is themed around the speakeasy-cum-hairdresser but thankfully manages to avoid naffness by virtue of the drinks being playful, imaginative and expertly mixed.
Before heading on to your next stop, why not take a wander along Hill Street? I love the cobbled street and backs of these houses with their quirky curves reflecting the shape of the rooms within. Also that fire escape, makes me want to climb up and pretend I'm either in New York or a music video, but I'll try not to embarrass myself.
Next up it's time to drop into Lucky Liquor, from the same people behind Bramble (which is just a few steps away) and try some of their seasonal and constantly evolving cocktails. Their unusually flavoured house liqueurs are also a must try.
Our third stop, Hoot the Redeemer, is one that was new to me. You have to be in the know to find it as I've been walking past its recessed doorway for years without any idea of what's hidden inside. I love the playful, kitsch, vintage fairground attractions which dispense randomly flavoured alcoholic slushies and ice cream, or you can choose your own flavour. Mop up any excess booze with their spicy popcorn so that your night doesn't end too early.
Depending on your stamina, by this point, you may want to have a pause for some food or a couple of soft drinks. Please drink responsibly... I might be tempted to stop by The Mussel Inn on nearby Rose Street for one of their kilo pots of mussels. Or if your need for carbohydrate is great, Amarone on the corner of George St does surprisingly good pizzas, plus there is Dishoom where you can fill up on their grilled meat and small plates. In fact they also have an excellent cocktail bar, The Permit Room, hidden away below the restaurant and open until late. My favourite is their Chandra Bose Sour. They also have a range of alcohol free cocktails which still somehow pack a serious punch.
If you are in the mood for more cocktails, its time to cross over Princes Street from the New Town to the Old. If it's still daylight, take in one of my favourite views from the roof of Waverley train station where you can really appreciate Edinburgh's spectacular skyline.
Let's have a final nightcap in The Secret Arcade, this place is tucked away in the Old Town down Jackson's Close, a narrow alleyway running between Cockburn St and the Royal Mile. They specialise in flavoured vodkas, and must have at least several hundred to choose from. Even in August, with the festivals in full swing and most bars on the Royal Mile standing room only, this place is sufficiently well hidden to be almost a locals only spot. Finally, fans of Ian Rankin's Rebus detective novels may appreciate a quick wander down Fleshmarket Close, in search for clues.
So, where have I missed out? Do you have a favourite hidden cocktail bar that should be on this list? I'd love to hear from you.
Panda and Sons, 79 Queen Street, Edinburgh, EH2 4NF http://pandaandsons.com/
Lucky Liquor, 39A Queen Street, Edinburgh, EH2 3NH http://www.luckyliquorco.com/
Hoot the Redeemer, 7 Hanover Street, Edinburgh, EH2 2DL http://hoottheredeemer.com/
The Permit Room, Dishoom, 3A St Andrew Square, Edinburgh, EH2 2BD http://www.dishoom.com/permitroom/
The Secret Arcade, 48 Cockburn Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1PB http://www.secretarcade.co.uk/