Suggestions from Lindsey Johnstone on where to go for after-work drinks in Stockbridge

More than just an extended crèche with added cake for Edinburgh’s yummy mummies, quaint but chic Stockbridge is also ideal after-work drinking territory: less hectic than George Street or the West End, less likely to make you feel old than the Old Town with its student haunts or the People’s Republic of Leith with its beard mafia, and its packed with pubs.

Here are a few places at which to get your post-office odyssey started.

There’s been a pub on the site of local institution The Bailie since the 1870s, and one under the current moniker since 1971.

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Comfortable and traditional – complete with carpets, dark wood, low ceilings, an island bar, real fire, nooks and crannies aplenty and the resulting cosy charm – this is a proper pub, with Scottish cask ales and high-end pub grub on offer, but no fruit machines or juke box. The loyalty of the regulars – some of whom are immortalised in a group photo that’s been on display since 1973 – speaks for itself.

In a similar mould and round the corner on St Stephen Street is The Antiquary , another basement boozer with stone walls, an open fire, wood panelling and a pub quiz, poker night and folk sessions.

The Antiquary in Stockbridge

The bar is named after a Walter Scott novel, so naturally there are resident ghosts (the wife and son of the baker who worked on the site’s previous incarnation), although the prices are marginally less frightening than in other local establishments.

Just down the road and with more of a boutique vibe is Hector’s , which might have style but is no fashionable flash in the pan. Having acquired character via longevity, Hector’s has held its own among more traditional watering holes with its excellent menu and impressive drinks selection, which includes real ales and cocktails. Warm and friendly, it’s laidback enough for Friday night drinks but nice (and dimly-lit) enough for date night.

Next door is The Stockbridge Tap, where friendly service, guest ales, 70-odd whiskies, hearty food, and strikingly clean, simple and light-flooded décor elevate the surroundings far beyond “old man pub”.

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There’s no children’s licence either – perhaps a downside at the weekend but a welcome respite after work.

The Raeburn Bar  feels like a pub that’s been around forever, despite only opening in 2012. With quiz night, soup, coffee and cakes on offer, live music on a Thursday, Friday and Saturday, newspapers, local photography on the walls, even a lending library, it’s the definition of cosy and completely unpretentious, with a community vibe.

And definitely not to be confused with The Raeburn , on the Comely Bank boundary and back from the dead after sitting empty for seven years. The long-awaited revamp is all tartan tweed, dove grey paintwork and exposed stone, and while it’s all a little gastropub, the B-listed building has been put to good use.

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The heated terrace is a highlight, as is the cocktail menu, which includes a tribute to the locale – the Stockbridge 112, comprised of Pickerings gin with strawberries, elderflower syrup and Prosecco.
And the last word goes to… The Last WordSt Stephen Street’s very own speakeasy.

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Brought to you by the proprietors of Bramble, voted among the world’s best 50 bars, the drinks list is unsurprisingly inventive. The signature cocktail is a mix of gin, chartreuse, maraschino liqueur and fresh-squeezed lime juice and the short drinks include deliciously well thought-out combinations like Havana rum with grapefruit soda, whisky and cream soda or gin with cloudy lemonade. Soak them up with the Elvis toastie – what else but peanut butter, bacon and banana – and hipster heaven is complete.

About The Author

Lindsey Johnstone

Lindsey Johnstone is a freelance journalist based between Edinburgh and Paris. She has written for Scotsman.com, Wow 247, The List, The Skinny, The Scottish Sun, heraldscotland.com, Fest and The Local France on arts, travel, news, food, fashion and pop culture.

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