The bars in Edinburgh where you can do more than just drink

Sometimes heading out to the pub can mean more than just enjoying a pint or a G & T or two. 

Published 15th Mar 2018
Updated 9 th Aug 2023

Here are some of the bars in Edinburgh where you can do more than just drink.

Learn all about gin distillation at Heads & Tales

(1a Rutland Place, Edinburgh EH1 2AD)

Picture: Trip advisor

Relax with a cocktail or two as you watch Flora & Caley do all the hard work (that's Edinburgh Gin's stills and not the bar maids) in this excellent little bar hidden away beneath the Rutland's Hotel, which allows guests to get up close and personal with one of Scotland's top gin production sites.

Play some Victorian ten pin bowling at the Sheep Heid Inn

(43-45 The Causeway, Edinburgh EH15 3QA)

The unique nature of this traditional pub doesn’t end with the name or the fact that it counts royals – both current and historical – among its patrons but in the fact that it is has its own bowling alley which dates back to Victorian times.

Loving restored, it's reputed to be the oldest working skittle alley in the world and the perfect accompaniment to a pint or two.

Enjoy an escape game at the Royal Dick

(1 Summerhall Pl, Edinburgh EH9 1PL)

Picture: Trip Advisor Travller


Ok, so technically, this isn't in the Royal Dick pub but it is in the same building - gather a team of your cleverest friends, family or colleagues (between two and five players) and prepare for the ultimate mental challenge.

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60 minutes of frantic teamwork as you try to solve the puzzle of who is plotting the downfall of Pickering’s Gin. Solve clues, have fun and most importantly save the gin. If you loved game shows like The Crystal Maze and Fort Boyard, then this is for you.

Play retro video games (and enjoy chicken wings) at Wings

(5 - 7 Old Fishmarket Close, High Street EH1 1RW)

Ok, so Wings isn't just a drinking den, it's also our favourite place to get some fried chicken in the capital, but most importantly it's one of the best places to go to play retro games in the city with SNESs, Game Cubes and XBoxes galore to enjoy with you and your friends in some fun multiplayer action.

Play ping-pong at Akva

(129 Fountainbridge, Fountainbridge, EH3 9QG)

A fun canalside bar, with a great beer garden, Avka is a hugely popular venue in the west end of the city and, every Sunday night, you can join in the ping-pong tournament if you think you are good enough, with prizes and a £3 entry fee (£2 for students).

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Lounge around and watch classic cult films at Brass Monkey

(14 Drummond Street, EH8 9TU)

Nothing says relaxation like some drinks and lounging around watching a film, which is not something you'd expect from a city bar.

But this is exactly what you get at The Brass Monkey.

Their cinema room is full of giant beds and cushions, and there's a big projector screen on which you can sit back, relax and enjoy their range of cult classics.

As well as the film screenings, there's also a selection of board games, dartboards and an arcade machine.

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Make your own Harry Potter themed cocktails at Pop Up Geeks

(Arch 14, East Market Street, EH8 8FS)

Running from February 1st - April 30th, this pop-up bar is a magical treat for fans of the Harry Potter series, and offers an experience based on the franchise as well as the chance to enjoy some amazing drinks.

Join a potions class and whip up your very own potion (read cocktail) and become a wizard at Edinburgh's very own boozy version of Hogwarts.

Enjoy pinball machines, and Butter Beer, at the Mousetrap

(180 Leith Walk EH6 5EA)

Picture: The Mouse Trap Facebook

If you are feeling nostalgic then why not pop into The Mouse Trap?

While it may look like a normal bar from the outside, inside the entire place is themed around both board and computer games.

There's an 80s video game arcade in which you spend spent hours reliving retro games and when you fancy a drink, the bar is well stocked with a range of beers, including their version of Harry Potter favourite - Butter Beer.


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Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.
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