Dundee has always had a decent drinking scene that’s managed to meet the demands of everyone from the traditionalists to the art-school crowd.
Recently though, the city has seen a flurry of new cocktail joints and café bars opening up in response to the £1 billion pound waterfront transformation, which will become home to the V&A Dundee in 2017, furthering interest around Dundee as a city on the up.
Jennie Patterson introduces ten of the best bars in Dundee right now.
Malbar at Malmaison
The first physical sign of Dundee’s transformation is the new Malmaison hotel featuring the glamorous Malbar. The refurbishment of the giant old Tay hotel has brought something entirely new to Dundee’s social scene. Generously spread out over two floors of the hotel, featuring a mezzanine level with velvet clad booths and banquettes, low lighting and quirky décor, this is the place to see and be seen in Dundee right now. A generous cocktail list features twists on the classics with post-dinner cocktails and Bubbletime champagne evenings celebrating the start of the weekend.
44 Whitehall Crescent, Dundee DD1 4AY, (0844 693 0661, www.malmaison.com/locations/dundee)
Jute Bar at DCA
It may be celebrating its fifteenth year, but this light-filled, converted brick warehouse remains at the heart of Dundee’s cultural social scene. DCA (Dundee Contemporary Arts) hosts the Jute Bar, and it has an uncanny knack of feeling like the right place to be, day or night with a group of friends or just hanging solo. A slow-paced daytime or week night evening atmosphere evolves into a much buzzier vibe come the weekend, with DJ sets. The eclectic bar list offers everything from cocktails to craft lagers, with the adjacent restaurant and cinema making it the best kind of meeting place for when you’re just not sure where the day might take you.
Clarks has a strong connection with the local music scene and is home from home for many a local band. The Sunday Song Club run by local band Anderson, McGinty Webster Ward and Fisher is known as a great way to round off the weekend. Indeed most nights you’ll find some sort of live music or event taking place. The edited bar list focuses on the tried and tested but you’ll get a decent bottle of wine for £12.50. It’s a good sized space that has something of a stylish cowboy saloon feel to it with its wood panelled walls and zinc top surfaces.
80 North Lindsay St, Dundee, DD1 1PS, (01382 224925, www.clarksonlindsaystreet.com)
[Picture: Dauvit Alexander / Flickr / CC]
Regularly voted by locals as the best pub in Dundee, The Phoenix has a traditional heart that always feels in step with the city. Attracting a mixed crowd that budge up comfortably against one another in the busy, bustling atmosphere, it offers a great range of beers, friendly service and an impressive art collection jostling for wall space. A typical tea-time spot that knocks the edges of a hard day at work, you’ll find a good cross-section of Dundee folk in The Phoenix.
103 Nethergate, Dundee, DD1 4DH, (01382 200014)
Duke’s has built up a faultless reputation as it manages to do many things very well, making it a great spot when you’re out with a mixed crowd or introducing people to the city for the first time. The bar offers more than 30 types of beer, and a decent selection of classic drinks, cocktails and food. The cavernous space accommodates everything from live gigs to film nights and DJ sets, with plenty of space to dance and an outdoor courtyard with fire pit and barbecue for extended summer evenings.
13 Brown Street, Dundee, DD1 5EG, (01382 205052, www.dukescorner.co.uk)
The West House
Situated on the popular West Port in Dundee’s cultural quarter, The West House is a small but well designed space that transforms itself from laid back coffee house and early evening dining spot to a lively pre-club DJ bar. Energetic, good-looking staff add to the ‘where it’s at’ atmosphere, mixing up cocktails and pitchers, whilst the open kitchen serves up excellent wood fired pizzas and pasta dishes that are excellent value for money.
2 West Port, Dundee, DD1 5EP, (01382 525205, www.bar.thewesthouse.co.uk)
BrewDog (coming soon)
Coming soon to Dundee with a planned opening in late May is the inimitable BrewDog, taking up residence in the former Caffe Borsa site on Panmure Street. This will be the fourth Scottish location for a BrewDog Bar joining, Dundee up with brethren across the globe from Japan to Brazil. Dedicated to fuelling the craft beer revolution, BrewDog describe their bars as “an introduction to a world of beer you never knew existed”. Keen to make their mark on the city, BrewDog are planning to collaborate with local artists when it comes to designing the look and feel of the venue. This is going to be a bar worth watching.
Panmure Street, Dundee, DD1 1ED, (www.brewdog.com)
The Speedwell Bar (aka Mennies)
Full of character and entwined into Dundee’s history, The Speedwell Bar was built in 1903 and was referred to by generations of locals as ‘Mennies’ after a much-loved landlady who ran the place for over half a century. The original and well worn Edwardian interior with real fire, and glass partitioned lounge, is a sight worth seeing, as is the collection of cask-conditioned ales and 150 malt whiskies. ‘Mennies’ is everything you would ever want in a well-loved local.
165-167 Perth Road, Dundee, DD2 1AS, (01382 667783, www.speedwell-bar.co.uk)
This is the kind of place you could visit every night of the week, such is its laid back, living-room like atmosphere. As its name suggests, it’s a favourite hangout for the students from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design over the road, and this basement bar has an underground vibe that’s never trying too hard to impress. Charmingly scruffy, the candle-lit Artbar offers reasonably priced drinks, midweek open mic nights and resident DJs at the weekend.
140 Perth Rd, Dundee, DD1 4JW, (01382 227888, facebook.com/artbar.dundee)
Meat House Bar & Grill
The bar offering doesn’t come second best to the scran at the Meat House, with a fantastic drinks selection built around the ranch meat themed menu, and bar stools and casual seating areas offering ideal drinking spots. The American themed drinks list including the attention grabbing ‘Picklebacks – a shot of Jim Beam bourbon with a chaser of ‘pickled brine’ – will iron out any early evening kinks. The lager and beer selection is pretty impressive too, with all the usuals on offer along with international craft beers. But it’s the Bloody Mary that steals the show at the Meat House.
2-8 Perth Road, Dundee, DD1 4LN, (01382 690040, www.meathouse.co.uk)
• Jennie Patterson blogs at www.beautifuldundee.co.uk
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