As an eight-week health kick pushes us to at least consider self-harming, here are the ten alcohol-fuelled experiences we miss the most:
1. The Voodoo Rooms
After popping into Voodoo, how many times has one glass of champagne turned into twenty-eight? Let’s see now … on just about every visit. In short: we love the staff, love the cocktails, and love the décor! Not only have they won awards for their drink-making abilities, so has the bar’s fabulous scheme. Nineteenth century architecture made over in black, gold, and even more gold: just stunning.
19a West Register Street, EH2 2AA
2. The Bon Vivant
For seven years now the Bon V has been a favourite spot to enjoy large quantities of champagne (yes, definite pattern emerging), and the best finger food ever. While you can opt for the traditional entrée then main, it’s much more satisfying to order eight or so different “bites.” The menu changes daily, but their original take on everything from seafood to haggis NEVER disappoints.
55 Thistle Street, EH2 1DY
This neighbourhood bar is a genuine delight. Sitting just below street level, it offers an incredibly friendly atmosphere, luscious duck pate, and generous cheese-boards with an assortment of pickles. It’s a simple menu that’s utterly satisfying, especially when topped off with an espresso and Tunnocks teacake. Though of course, that’s always followed by more wine …
56a Broughton Street, EH1 3SA
4. Hoot the Redeemer
If you’re a kid at heart, but a grown-up who likes a tipple, then this is the bar for you. From the street at least, all you can see is a door. But head beyond and you’ll discover a fortune teller straight out of the movie Big. Go further still, and you’ll be greeted by alcoholic ice creams, and a claw machine that allows you to mix your own cocktails. Fun, a more traditional bar, and a DJ are also on offer.
7 Hanover Street, EH2 2DL
5. Bar a Vin
No doubt inspired by Pickles, the rather lovely L’Escargot Blanc has turned its ground floor into a wine bar. The nicest of French barmen will soon persuade you champagne is a must, and that chorizo, cured sausage, and perhaps goat’s cheese drizzled in truffle honey will change your life. Needless to say they’re absolutely right. We first visited on a Monday night, and stayed until Tuesday.
17a Queensferry Street, EH2 4QW
Whether we’re there for lunch or dinner, we seem to have earned a reputation for being the last to leave Rollo. Trouble is, it’s the very definition of successful dining out: lush atmosphere, great service, and exceptional food. They’re also rather accomplished when it comes to cocktails. So, from the first sip of a cheeky mojito, through to the last bite of seared beef, it’s really, REALLY difficult to leave.
14 Broughton Street, EH1 3RH / 108 Raeburn Place, EH4 1HH
7. Colonades at the Signet Library
The Royal Mile’s Signet Library definitely delivers on atmosphere. Completed in 1822 for the arrival of King George VI, he described it as the finest drawing room in Europe. A slight exaggeration perhaps, but there’s no denying the afternoon teas are superb. Expect duck, salmon, banoffee shots, salted caramel frangipane, and of course scones – made all the better by the addition of champagne.
Parliament Square, The Royal Mile, EH1 1RF
8. Ecco Vino
Walk thorough the doors of this incredibly intimate space, and instantly your mouth is watering. On one side there’s an open plan kitchen, and on the other, diners sit surrounded by endless bottles of wine. The menu’s simple, but utterly delicious, with the Italian sausage stew and homemade tiramisu being particular favourites. No prizes for guessing, this is another venue we have trouble leaving.
19 Cockburn Street, EH1 1BP
9. Gertrude & Smith
This recently discovered wine bar is a real delight, and not only because our table of four managed to polish off five-ish (maybe six-ish) bottles. We were also pretty excited about the extensive cheese collection, gourmet sausage rolls, and handmade chocolate. Even better, the vinyl collection (we’re sort of sure) they encouraged us to play. Soundtrack of our drunken evening: Bad, by Michael Jackson.
26 Hamilton Place, EH3 5AU
10. Port O’Leith
By day it’s pretty much a dusty old man’s pub, but come Friday night (around 11) this unlikely venue is completely transformed. Hardcore Leithers and New-Towners come together for 80s music, and dancing on the bar-top (literally). But the real highlight is the last song – Sunshine on Leith – where every patron links arms (maybe not literally) and sings along. A must-have Edinburgh experience.
58 Constitution Street, EH6 6RS
The Last Word Saloon, 44 St Stephen Street, EH3 5AL
During Edinburgh’s winter months, few things are as nice as sitting next to an open fire, and drinking a little too much wine at the Last Word Saloon. A bearded barman will also whip you up fabulous cocktails.