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Five of the best bars in Glasgow to order a cocktail

Fancy getting fancy? Here are our top five bars for when only a cocktail will do in Glasgow.

Published: November 5, 2015

Behind its artfully stripped-back exterior at the revived Finnieston end of Argyle Street, The Kelvingrove Café is all wood paneling and parquet, Chesterfield-style banquettes and cosy booths, brass-clad and marble-topped bar, gilt-edged mirrors, tiled floor and extravagant greenery – a welcomingly dim den with a down-at-heel classic bar vibe in which to while away the hours over startlingly inventive and simply presented cocktails, or “mixed drinks” as they prefer, based on fortified wines rather than spirits for a sophisticated take and concocted with ice blocks made on-site using 1930s techniques and hand-sliced into manageable chunks behind the bar.

If you're after glamour unadulterated by irony, the cocktail bar at the Blythswood Hotel with its soft lighting and creative cocktail making is relaxing in that way only a terribly expensive five-star hotel can be. The emphasis is on the classics, drinks with a proper provenance, and the knowledgeable bar staff will recommend cocktails based on your tastes, whether that be an Aviation (gin, Crème de Violette, maraschino liqueur, lemon and sugar), a Bumbo (rum, spiced tea, lime and demerara sugar) or one of six Martinis, including The Scot – Hendrick's and Martini served with a slice of cucumber and a spray of Ardbeg.

At the other end of the spectrum, for those who wish to embrace the inherent campness of cocktail drinking, you can do no better than The Tiki Bar & Kitsch Inn, which does exactly what it says on the tin. An exacting homage to the faux-tropical and fabulously tacky tiki bars of 1930s Los Angeles, the décor is pure pop culture Polynesia, complete with hula girls, plastic palms, wicker for days and ceramic pineapple mugs. The cocktail menu covers all the kitsch classics, but alongside the Mai Tai and Piña Colada are local creations the Auch Aye the Bru (whisky, rum, pink grapefruit, passion fruit and Irn Bru), Glasvegas Kiss (vodka, triple sec, orange, guava, lime and mango and, yes, Irn Bru) and Scarlett's Sunset, an homage to Scarlett Johansson created after she filmed scenes for alien flick Under The Skin in the bar – Sailor Jerry and Mount Gay rum with apricot brandy and orange, pineapple and lime juices sweetened with grenadine foam.

When a cocktail is called for to soothe the soul, there's no better place than Rogano; the decadence of its Art Deco interior almost as calming as the drinks on offer and the elegance of the setting marrying perfectly with that of an old-fashioned mixed drink. Install yourself in the Oyster Bar and restore your equilibrium with one of the classics – a Brandy Alexander, an Old Fashioned or a French Martini, or one of the Champagne cocktails this time capsule of chic is famed for – before you head back out into 2015.

A drink at Blue Dog is about as close as you'll get in Glasgow to Tom Cruise's ill-fated joint Cocktails and Dreams. There's something of the 80s classic to Blue Dog too, with its exposed brick, purple lighting and resident piano man playing jazz on a baby grand – which is an immensely satisfying backdrop against which to revel in the inherent excess of the cocktail. And there's a reason it's the city's most established cocktail bar, several in fact: the menu of more than 60 concoctions is absolutely comprehensive; the staff are experts in their craft and friendly to boot, more than happy to dream you up a drink if the choice overwhelms you and the bar is positively loaded with top notch ingredients, which are whizzed (and yes, sometimes even flared) into creations such as the Arrogant Frog (gin, peach wine, poppy seed liqueur and pink grapefruit), a Jekyll & Hyde (rum, Café Patron coffee tequila, Aztec chocolate bitters, Nutella, honey and fresh cream) or a Lemon Meringue Martini, comprising gin, Advocaat, limoncello, lemon curd and cream.

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