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The best places to grab a cocktail during the Edinburgh Festival

Here is our pick of the best places to grab a cocktail during the Edinburgh Festival.

Published: August 17, 2015
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There is a distinct possibility that most of Edinburgh's pubs will be overflowing with punters for the majority of August, so you'll need something to make heading to one the capital's many bars worthwhile and few things are more satisfying than indulging in a well made cocktail.

Thankfully, if there is one thing Edinburgh does well, it's cocktail bars.

From the multi award-winning Bramble to the relative new kid on the block, Hoot the Redeemer, here are the five bars we suggest you visit.

Panda & Sons

(79 Queen St, Edinburgh EH2 4NF, 0131 220 0443)

Panda & Sons. Picture: P & S

Panda & Sons. Picture: P & S

The false barber shop frontage might confuse a few people, but don't be fooled – hidden behind it is one of the brightest stars in Edinburgh's galaxy of cocktail bars.

This prohibition era-style speakeasy elevates mixology to the next level but strips it back from its pretentious roots and instead puts a little bit of fun back into drinking cocktails.

Picture: Trip Advisor Traveler

Like being invited into the city's best-kept secret, the short walk through the faux barbershop reveals a vintage looking bar that cleverly riffs on its name with plenty of tongue and cheek panda references.

The menu reads like a storybook and reveals a plot thick with classic characters, modern protagonists and other drinks that sit somewhere in between, while the bar staff don't just look the part, they also know their stuff.

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So pull up a pew and watch the magic happen right in front of you.

Bramble

(16A Queen St, Edinburgh, Midlothian EH2 1JE, 0131 226 6343)

Picture: Bramble

Picture: Bramble

Rightly considered to be one of the best cocktail bars in Scotland, if not the UK, Bramble has received many awards and was even recently voted one of the best bars in the world.

If that old cliché of mixology being an art form were true then this is where Leonardo, Raphael and Michaelangelo - the painters, not the turtles - would go to perfect their talents.

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The effortlessly cool stripped-back interior, with leather armchairs, painted brickwork and low light, provides a perfect setting to enjoy some of the consummately mixed drinks on offer.

With an extensive cocktail menu featuring classics, new and old - and of course the eponymous Bramble cocktail itself - you'll find yourself happily whiling away the evening enjoying some of the best mixed drinks you can get in Edinburgh.

Heads & Tales

(Rutland Street, Edinburgh EH1 2AE, 0131 656 2811)

Picture: Heads & Tails

Picture: Heads & Tales

Heads & Tales is not just a bar, it's also the home of Edinburgh Gin and features two working stills gleaming proudly behind glass windows within the bar.

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There can be no mistaking what Heads & Tales specialises in.

Thankfully, that passion for gin is mixed with a keen knowledge of mixology to become the perfect new home for any gin fan.

Showcasing the versatility of this juniper infused spirit you'll be more than a little impressed by the sheer extent of the range of gin cocktails on offer.

Don't worry – those who prefer spirits of a different kind are also extensively catered for.

Dragonfly

(52 West Port, Old Town, Edinburgh EH1 2LD, 0131 228 4543)

Picture: Dragonfly

Picture: Dragonfly

For those of you who will be loath to leave the festival for too long, then Dragonfly, in the Old Town, might have you covered.

As part of PBH's Free Fringe, Dragonfly provides a venue for back-to-back free comedy shows all afternoon and evening throughout the Fringe.

Aside from the stand-up, there is also an extensive cocktail menu - tried,  tested and perfected - for your perusal.

Hoot the Redeemer

(7 Hanover St, Edinburgh EH2, 0131 220 0310)

Picture: Trip Advisor Traveler

 

Sometimes you just want to have a little fun without all the fuss. With Hoot the Redeemer you'll have all the fun without sacrificing the quality.

The brainchild of Iain McPherson and the team behind Panda & Sons, Hoot the Redeemer transports you back to 1950s New Orleans by way of the Coney Island Funfair. The 'dive bar' has creative charm and quirky adornments aplenty.

Littered with the type of childhood wonders one would normally associate with a vintage-style funfair, the star of the show undoubtedly has to be their custom-made arcade claw machine.

Offering a selection of cocktail flavours in brightly coloured balls, revellers can grab them using the claw then ask the bar staff to create their own bespoke concoctions using whatever flavours have been selected.

And should we be lucky enough to have a little sunshine, Hoot offers the perfect way to cool down with a distinctive range of alcoholic slushies and ice creams.

56 North

(2-8 W Crosscauseway, Edinburgh EH8 9JP)

Picture: 56 North

The first bar on our list is just stone’s throw from Summerhall (venue 26). Formery the Royal School of Veterinary Studies, Summerhall is now a renowned hub for the creative arts.

It’s also home to Pickering’s – an award-winning local gin. So what could be better after getting your fill of Festival artistry than to stroll down Buccleuch Street to dedicated gin bar 56 North and sample some tasty tipples?

With an impressive list of literally hundreds of gins, and an ever-changing cocktail menu, 56 North is a perfect place for juniper-philes. That other Festival stalwart The Pleasance is hardly a Tolkien-esque trek away either.

Cocktails typically cost between £7 and £10.

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