The best of the bar world returns to Scotland’s Capital with Tales of the Cocktail

The best of the bar world descends on the capital next week as Tales of the Cocktail returns to Edinburgh. Cocktail blogger Mixolosopher takes a look at what we can expect.

Published 4th Apr 2018
Updated 9 th Aug 2023

Next week sees the return of Tales of the Cocktail to Edinburgh; the hugely popular drinks convention has (or rather had) been going strong in the US since the early 2000s.

Not long after its European debut in Auld Reekie last year, however, the New Orleans-based event was put in jeopardy by some questionable behaviour from the organisers but, with new backers and a new leaf turned over, Tales On Tour is back – albeit in a somewhat streamlined state.

Cocktails in the City

The three-day symposium begins on Sunday the 8th of April and is chiefly aimed at the bar industry, with talks and demonstrations geared towards fostering ties between bar-folk the world over.

The emphasis, though, is very much on what Edinburgh has to offer as a cocktail city. And where would Edinburgh’s cocktail culture be without its discerningly thirsty customers?

With that in mind there will be quite a few special events taking place over the Sunday, Monday and Tuesday (aka “the bartender’s weekend”) which will be open to anyone.

At least anyone quick enough to reserve a coveted place at them, that is!

The Voodoo Rooms (19a West Register Street)

(Hendricks Gin presents Healthy Hospo & Three Sheets take-over, Sunday 8th)

Anyone who has ever dipped their toe into the hospitality trade will know how choppy the waters can often be.

Long shifts, late finishes and hour-upon- hour on your feet may seem like a necessary evil to the part-timer but can have serious effects for those who make it their career.

When Tim Etherington-Judge felt the full force of those effects he shared his experiences – and soon discovered he was not alone.

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The upshot was Healthy Hospo, its aim being to educate and support people in the hospitality industry with advice on working and living well.

Voodoo Rooms will be holding a full day of events on Sunday 8th beginning at 10:30 with a selection of seminars on mental and physical health given by Tim and a few special guest speakers, accompanied by cocktails and healthy snacks.

This will be followed by an hour-long yoga session. In the evening the American Bar will be taken over by Three Sheets of London, with founder Max Venning joining Tim behind the bar to make some bespoke cocktails.

Tickets for the events are an absolute snip at £5 and are available here, with all proceeds from tickets and drinks going towards Healthy Hospo and their fantastic work.

The Voyage of Buck (29-31 William Street)

This azure-fronted bar-restaurant in the West End has been quietly making a name for itself since the doors opened barely a couple of years ago. They will be holding various showcases and tastings over the course of Tales, including an Aperitivo masterclass on Monday 9th (2:30pm) and a liqueur tasting with French company Gabrielle Boudier on Tuesday the 10 th (2:30pm).

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Also on the Monday will be a look at Scotland’s influence on the global bar scene, with a Porter’s Gin pop-up and a list of drinks from some of Scotland’s best bartender exports starting from 8pm.

The jewel in their Tales On Tour crown, though, will surely be on Sunday 8th, starting at 6:30, when Edinburgh Gin will welcome guests on A Culinary Voyage; a three-course feast of Edinburgh’s edibles and Edinburgh Gin-based beverages.

Tickets are a paltry £30 and are disappearing fast.

KIN (1 Barony Street)

Just off Broughton Street, this is another recent addition to the Edinburgh bar map. On Sunday 8 th it’ll be the scene of a Big Easy take-over, when quintessential New Orleans liqueur Southern Comfort will be hosting a night of gumbo, live music and a brand new cocktail every hour. The hospitalities begin at 8pm.

Fast forward to Tuesday the 10 th when Marquis Armagnac will take up the reigns, firstly for a (strictly limited) blending session and then with four of Scotland’s finest coming together behind the bar serving their signature drinks from 8pm onwards.

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Bryant & Mack (89 Rose Street North Lane)

They may fashion themselves as a detective agency but on Monday 9th Bryant & Mack will be playing archaeologists as they brush the dust off some vintage vermouths and amaros, pairing them with some of the finest bourbon and rye
whiskies from the Buffalo Trace cellars.

Accompanied by some local live music, the doors will open from 7pm but be sure to book your place now, as anyone who’s been to Bryant & Mack will tell you – it’s about as spacious as a Bryant and May matchbox!

Panda & Sons (79 Queen Street)

This award-winning barbers-shop speakeasy will be hosting Joe Schofield, head bartender at another award-winning establishment the Tippling Club in Singapore.

Joe will be stepping behind the stick at around 4:30 on Monday 9th (which, to be fair, will be about 11:30pm for him) before UK Bacardi Legacy winner and Panda & Sons’ own Leon Back will be inviting six of his European contemporaries along for some friendly drink-making rivalry before the seriousness of the global final in May.

Unless you can afford to be in Mexico in a month’s time then this is your best chance to see these top class bartenders in action under one roof.

Please note these events have a strictly limited capacity. For more information and to book your place, contact the bars directly. For full details of all the events going on during Tales Of The Cocktail On Tour, visit the website.

Iain Meldrum (aka Mixolosopher) has over a decade of experience at the top of the drinks industry as both a bartender and trainer. He is passionate about all things alcoholic - though in a responsible and philosophical way, of course.
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