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Five Edinburgh and Glasgow gin bars to try

Published: March 4, 2015
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With Scotland being one of the largest producers of gin in the world, it is no wonder our cities are opening gin bars left, right and centre.  Reports in 2014 indicated that gin’s on­trade popularity has surpassed that of vodka so is this gin trend which is sweeping the nation here to stay? Here is a list of some of our nation’s favourite gin bars in no particular order.

The Jolly Botanist, Edinburgh

Owned by Gordon Gilhooley and Iain Pert, Edinburgh’s latest gin bar to add to its collection is “The Jolly Botanist” on Morrison Street, Haymarket. This recent addition to the gin scene boasts an elegant Victorian interior with a contemporary and quirky steampunk touch and happens to have over 70 gins stocked from all over the world. The Jolly Botanist’s menu showcases an extensive drinks list which helpfully suggests which tonic and garnish would suit which brand best. It also tells you exactly the region where the brand is from. Perfect for all gin enthusiasts!

Gin 71, Glasgow 

Glasgow’s Gin 71, formerly a bank in its day, is also home to the Cup Tea Lounge venue on 71 Renfield Street. With offerings of their home­brewed tonics and gin flights, Gin 71 is a must for lovers of all things gin. Until 6pm every night the venue simply serves tea and cakes. Furthermore it then moonlights as Gin 71 with a quick change of décor and a variety of eclectic serves and cocktails on offer.

Equipped with 71 gins as the name insinuates, the venue also showcases beautifully decorated features including its impressive ceiling. It is the perfect hot spot to enjoy sipping on your choice of gin as it is guaranteed that they will have it.

According to Eileen Lynch, bar manager, the bestselling gins are Martin Miller’s Gin and Scotland’s home distilled Hendrick’s. Hendrick’s is used in most of their popular serves.

Heads & Tales, Edinburgh

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Distillery by day, bar by night... The Edinburgh Gin Distillery situated 1a Rutland Place turns into Heads & Tales Bar after hours. Heads & Tales offers a medley of different serves and cocktails.

Personal recommendation goes to their own ‘Savoury Collins’; a concoction of Hendrick’s gin, ginger and cucumber.

The venue is somewhat a difficult find as it lurks between The Huxley and Ghillie Dhu and is hidden away down the steps with minimal and understated signage. The bar oozes a perfect balance of style and comfort and has glass panels which view on to ‘Flora’ and ‘Caledonia’, the two copper stills which are the essence of the distilling room. The venue during the day allows visitors the chance to learn more about all things gin related and is certainly held in high regard amongst the Edinburgh locals.

The Finnieston, Glasgow

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A seafood restaurant and gin cocktail bar that opened its doors in 2011. The Finnieston can be found on Glasgow city’s ever­-thriving Argyle Street strip and is just one of the many great venues in this vibrant colourful neighbourhood. This popular hotspot, owned by Graham Suttle, certainly has a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ about it. Its sophisticated charm and impressive décor gives a warm welcome to its clientele and to top it off, it offers a selection of over 60 gins to indulge in. The Finnieston is definitely the gem on the Argyle Street strip.

Appearances can be deceiving. To passers­by Panda & Son’s exterior would give theimpression of an old barbershop. However, if you were to proceed through the inconspicuous entrance, follow the carpeted stairs down and enter through the bookcase and what you would find is a prohibition style cocktail bar. The critically lauded venue opened its doors in November 2013 and has remained popular on the Edinburgh scene.

Located at 79 Queen Street, this top quality gin joint boasts a variety of different creations including the ever intoxicating ‘The Red Panda’ which consists of Tanqueray Gin, tomato juice, kaffir lime leaves, cucumber, lemon juice, Worcester sauce, Tabasco and lastly... a Guinness Float. Despite being a bit off the radar in the west ­end and definitely off the beaten track, Panda & Sons is well worth visit for its all­round creative genius.

Alston Bar & Beef, Glasgow 

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A steakhouse and gin bar, what’s not to love? Situated under the catacombs of Glasgow’s Central Station, Alston Bar & Beef definitely has a real atmosphere and buzz about it. Prior to its opening last year, there was much hype and mystique about the highly anticipated venue. The décor consists of original foundations of the station accompanied by modern features and finishes.The drinks list is perfect for gin lovers as it features an eclectic range of different gins and serves. An original serving from Professor Jerry Thomas features on the drinks menu named ‘Silver Fiz’. ‘Silver Fiz’, a delightful gin­fuelled potion entailing Hayman’s Old Tom, lemon juice, lime juice, cane syrup, egg white and orange bitters and served with ice.

Warren Campbell is a food and drink enthusiast who has his finger on the pulse when it comes to the Scottish licence trade. Having written for various publications and worked behind several bars, Warren’s passion for all things trade related is what drives him. He can be seen enjoying a Balvenie 12 Year Old Doublewood in his favourite haunts around Glasgow or frequenting between Glasgow and Edinburgh’s thriving restaurant scenes.

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