The Thinking Drinkers share their five favourite Edinburgh drinking dens
The Thinking Drinkers

The Thinking Drinkers cast their expert eye over their favourite drinking spots to check out during the Fringe. Bottoms up!

Edinburgh is one of the best imbibing cities in the world and Scotch is an obvious choice. It’s Scottish after all.

Glenkinchie is around 30 minutes from the city if you want a distillery tour, but most bars or pubs will offer some quality single malt, so when in Rome and all that, drink the local product. But we’ve got some alternative suggestions to keep it interesting, because the wider drinks offering needs to be explored.

It’s worth noting we give five free drinks out in our show. This is not a joke, if it was, it’d be a shit joke, and we really do give each audience member a sample of a beer and four spirits. So in a way, our show is the best bar to come to. After that though, you need to visit these places:


A photo posted by Jonathan Kite (@jonathankite) on

Regularly recognised by the drinks industry as one of the best bars in the world, Bramble is an essential on the list. We stop in at least once every year. A low-lit basement bar with a slight speakeasy feel, they serve outstanding cocktails and quality right across the drinks menu so that fans of beer and wine won’t be left hanging.

We recommend a martini, the king of cocktails mixed here by some of the best bartenders in the world. If you want a swerve on gin, since there are a confusing number of them these days, we offer our audiences Plymouth Gin in the show and it’s a classic. It also makes the best martini, Winston Churchill specifically requested the brand in his own.

16A Queen St, EH2 1JE /

Devils Advocate

A photo posted by Emma Cha (@whosechopperisthis) on

Our show is all about travel and airplanes are often used in travel, something we learned during our research. Meanwhile the closest either of us have got to the mile high club is the cocktail here called the Mile Rye Club, which uses Bulleit Rye at its base – another of the spirits we’re handing out (for free) in our show.

As well as a fine pun, the cocktail also blends in Cointreau Noir, nuts, Noix De La Saint Jean, egg & nut Crumb and is an exceptional after dinner drink. You should eat here, the mezzanine level restaurant whips up some wicked food, meanwhile the downstairs bar is a mix of standing bustle and cosy booths. The service is outstanding and it’s the best bar in old town.

9 Advocate’s Close, EH1 1ND /

The Oxford Bar

A photo posted by Mark (@markccroxford) on

A proper pub and our choice for a whisky and beer chaser. We suggest something local. There are no frills here, the place puts more energy into getting the basics right. If you like talking to people, and sometimes we do, then the Oxford remains resolutely local and so provides some top bants and that.

Obviously if you’re an out of towner then by visiting you will dilute the native punter percentages, but you won’t be the first since its long association with writers like Ian Rankin means it draws tourists. It’s also nicely positioned to El Cartel ( and incredible Mexican restaurant, so eat there before or after.

8 Young Street, EH2 4JB /

Bon Vivant

Exceptional cuisine and cocktails, this restaurant and bar is stalwart of the Edinburgh imbibing scene is another that has earned plenty of plaudits and prestigious awards. Have a rum drink to mix things up – we serve up a discerning Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva in our show and it can change your perception of the spirit.

The Edinburgh experience can see the wheels fall off many performer’s lives, whether they enjoy audience adulation or endure death on stage, the psychological impact results in less than moral behaviour. So the This Is Moral cocktail here is a nice way to convince everyone you’re better than that. It combines Diplomatico blanco, pink grapefruit juice, lime juice, elderflower cordial, vanilla salt and is a beautiful beverage.

55 Thistle St, EH2 1DY /

Whistle Stop Barber Shop

Get a haircut if you need one, or don’t, it’s up to you really, the fact that you can here is a novelty though and after you can tuck into some useful American style grub while you enjoy the drinks. Have an Irish whiskey here, we serve up Jameson’s in the show, which is an iconic Irish American spirit and pairs brilliantly with big meaty dishes, either as a neat drink or in a nice long serve.

The food is tasty, perhaps not ideal if you’re trying to keep trim, but the bar brushes up nicely, it’s a cut above really and great for the Fringe, so chop chop, step it up and bowl over there. Hair.

66-67 South Bridge, EH1 1LS /

Aug 3-28: The Thinking Drinkers: Around the World in 80 Drinks, Underbelly Med Quad, EH8 9AG, 8.30pm / more info

Main image: Rob Lawson