7 of the Best Cocktail Bars in Edinburgh

by Rachel Naismith  |  Published March 22, 2024

Edinburgh’s lively cocktail culture explores cosmopolitan influences while proudly embracing Scots roots, from intimate hole-in-the-wall bars to elegant lounges. Here are five addresses for the best of Scottish mixology. 

Photo by Adam Jaime (via Unsplash)

The Scots are masters in the art of savoring a good drink, as underscored by Edinburgh’s colorful cocktail scene. The capital is home to a number of spots serving creatively crafted concoctions — whether it’s a fruity number, a stalwart classic, or a robust whiskey-based elixir (never in short supply here). From chic lounges with a discerning dress code, to trendy hole-in-the-wall haunts and clandestine speakeasies, Edinburgh’s cocktail bars extend a warm welcome, much like the city’s amiable locals, providing the ideal refuge from the year-round chilly East Coast winds.


Ski Chalet outside Tonic (photo via @tonicedin)

Tucked away on a quiet side street branching off elegant George Street, Tonic has consistently drawn crowds since opening its doors over a decade ago. Its enduring popularity lies in its adaptability and creativity. From its cheery outdoor ski-chalet during the winter, to DJs spinning old-school classics in summer, Tonic is a favorite with locals and travelers alike all year round, with staff among the city’s friendliest. While the drinks menu is not the most innovative, those with a sweet tooth will revel in kitsch cocktails like the ‘Pineapple Upside Down Cake’ and ‘Turkish Delight’, alongside negronis, martinis and other staples. If your go-to drink isn’t on the menu, just ask.

34A North Castle St, Edinburgh EH2 3BN

Panda & Sons

This prohibition-styled speakeasy isn’t much of a secret, thanks to its coveted spot on the World’s 50 Best Bars list. Still, the act of knocking on the ruby-red door still brings a frisson. A snug, vintage barbershop-style room awaits, complete with plush booths, ambient lighting, and a cocktail menu so extensive that it’s organised into thick chapters. The clientele spans all ages, with the majority seemingly on dates (the small space isn’t ideal for large groups). The drinks take on a theatrical flair, crafted in front of you with grandeur and precision. Don’t miss ‘Ya Dancer’ (‘Well done!’ in local parlance), a heady blend of Hendrick’s Orbium gin, fino, queen olive, and pineapple.

79 Queen St, Edinburgh EH2 4NF

Bar Prince

Bar Prince (photo via Instagram courtesy of @brasserieprince)

Cocktail bars don’t get much swisher than Bar Prince, located in the heart of Edinburgh’s most luxurious five-star hotel. At the end of the capital’s busy shopping hub on Princes Street, the Balmoral radiates Scottish pride — from the kilted gentlemen greeting guests to the Balmoral tartan carpet lining the hotel floors. Bar Prince is sleek and sultry, with an impressive marble bar, opulent golden accents, and oversized blue leather chairs. The signature cocktail is ‘La Vie En Rose,’ a floral blend of Bombay Sapphire gin, Chambord, lemon juice, and hibiscus syrup, crowned with champagne. A diverse selection of classic and bespoke cocktails beckons, alongside champagnes, scotch, old and new world wines, and more. For those feeling peckish, a dainty bar menu offers refined versions of pub classics such as pulled pork croquettes, pad thai fries, and tarragon-topped puffed pork scratchings.

1 Princes St, Edinburgh EH2 2EQ

Night Cap

Night Cap is a small, no-frills cocktail bar situated in the heart of Edinburgh’s New Town. It’s cosy and dimly lit, with simple wooden tables, a handful of bar stools, and a few outdoor tables for warmer evenings. Given its intimate proportions, and living up to its name, Night Cap is the perfect choice for a brief drink at the end of the evening. The atmosphere is relaxed, with late opening hours, and the cocktail menu is adventurous, featuring olive margaritas and a surprising rooibos and Greek yogurt concoction. Alongside these inventive options, you’ll find more conventional offerings and an extensive wine list, all at very reasonable prices. Quirky and cute, it’s an ideal place to try something new.

3 York Pl, Edinburgh EH1 3EB


‘Mahogany’ cocktail from Bramble (photo via Instagram courtesy of @bramble_bar)

A veritable Edinburgh institution, and another anointed establishment on the World’s 50 Best Bars list, Bramble has reaped such success since opening that it has expanded to two other venues in the city. The success story is no mystery — Bramble’s excellence lies in its meticulous attention to detail, from cracking playlists to exquisite glassware, and subtle embellishments such as the ice cubes speckled with chilli flakes. Attracting an urbane crowd, the vibe is electric and cool, with the tantalizing cocktail selection featuring standouts like the zingy mezcal blend, paired with apricot, amaro, mint, and lime. The staff are down to earth and are happy to prepare bespoke drinks tailored to taste.

16A Queen St, Edinburgh EH2 1JE

Hey Palu

In the heart of Edinburgh’s old town, Hey Palu is a must for cocktails with a Mediterranean touch. The menu is a lively celebration of the Italian aperitivo scene, promising ‘negronis and shenanigans’ and delivering them with aplomb. From classic spritzes to playful twists, such as the blushing wild strawberry negroni and an impressive Amari collection sourced from all over Italy, Hey Palu feels fun and fresh. The interior is bright and cheery — nothing fancy, just ample natural light and a killer soundtrack. Expect a lively clientele, sipping drinks and enjoying generous plates of Italian cheeses and charcuterie.

49 Bread St, Edinburgh EH3 9AH

The Bon Vivant

The Bon Vivant (photo via Instagram courtesy of @bonvedinburgh)

Arguably Edinburgh’s most romantic drinks den, The Bon Vivant is a French-inspired cocktail bar serving small plates and chic sophistication. With candlelit tables, smartly dressed waiters and moody mahogany furniture, it offers an elegant touch of old-school allure without stuffiness. The cocktail menu is classic, but still piques the interest with lovely details like pear liqueur and smoked plum syrup. Unsurprisingly for a French establishment, the wine selection is painstakingly curated. Turn up for a drink and it will be hard to turn down the menu’s ‘bites’—particularly the salty, melt-in-your-mouth Cashel Blue gougère.

50 Thistle St, Edinburgh EH2 1DY