A lot of thought, time and effort goes into a first date – outfit, hair, practiced witty repartees in the shower… And checking your teeth for any rogue leafy greens before leaving the house is a must.
But the most important part of the preparation process has to be choosing the perfect venue. This person could be The One, and you’re just going to take them for a paltry pint at your local Wetherspoons? We didn’t think so.
Here are some tried and tested Edinburgh pubs and bars that – though totally unique in their own way – are all safe bets for a fantastic first date location.
Quirky and cosy, Paradise Palms has quiet corners for chatting and some mean frozen margaritas – if required – to fuel the conversation. Sit outside if it’s a warm night, and use the distractions provided by the bar (pinball machine and in-house record shop) to break the ice.
41 Lothian Street, EH1 1HB – theparadisepalms.com
The Devil’s Advocate
Somewhere between modern and rustic inside, this bar is hidden up a close between Cockburn Street and the Royal Mile. Sadly it’s not a well kept secret, but it does mean there’s always a great atmosphere and buzz about the place – no awkward silences here.
9 Advocate’s Close, EH1 1ND – devilsadvocateedinburgh.co.uk
Under the Stairs
This basement bar basically looks like a trendy (yet comfy) living room, so make yourself at home. If it’s a chilly night, you and your date can sit by the fire and huddle for warmth.
3a Merchant Street, EH1 2QD – underthestairs.org
After dark, this cute Leith cafe becomes a bustling bar which whips up delicious pot-tails – cocktails served in a teapot and sipped out of teacups. Quite the talking point for you and your new boo.
23/24 Sandport Place, EH6 6EW – roseleaf.co.uk
The Hanging Bat
If you already know that you and your date are both beer buffs, heading to The Hanging Bat for your very first rendezvous is a must. They’ve got plenty of craft beers for you to chat about and sample together.
133 Lothian Road, EH3 9AB – thehangingbatbrewco.com
Elegant without being stuffy, The Westroom (in the West End, funnily enough) has a chic, modern feel and a wide drinks selection. Treat your date to a Dark Matter here – Scotland’s first and only rum.
3 Melville Street, EH3 7PR – thewestroom.co.uk
The Lucky Liquor Co
Small but perfectly formed, Lucky Liquor’s plush banquettes, chequered floor and carefully crafted cocktails will transport you straight into a film noir.
39a Queen Street, EH2 3NH – luckyliquorco.com
The Caley Sample Room
Roomy and usually pleasantly rowdy at the weekends, this pub is perfect for any prospective couples looking for a pint and a proper chat. Grab yourselves a comfy sofa or table in the corner, get the pints in and – we’re quite sure – the rest will be history.
42-58 Angle Park Terrace, EH11 2JR – thecaleysampleroom.co.uk
Nothing gives you courage for a first date quite like tequila, right? If you’re both in the mood for a bit of a fiesta, Mexican themed bar The Basement has a fun theme, a friendly feel and an impressive tequila cocktail menu.
10a-12a Broughton Street, EH1 3RH – basement-bar-edinburgh.co.uk
The Cambridge Bar
If you’re after an unpretentious pub that still has a little extra charm up its sleeve, The Cambridge is an ideal candidate. Hidden off the main drag but still central, it’s the prime location for a laidback drinks date.
20 Young Street, EH2 4JB – thecambridgebar.co.uk
With al fresco tables and hidden booths just for two at the back of the bar, Red Squirrel on Lothian Road has plenty of space for serendipitous first meetings.
21 Lothian Road, EH1 2DJ – redsquirreledinburgh.co.uk
Sygn serve some quirky cocktails, as well as boozy milkshakes if you or your date have a bit of a sweet tooth to indulge. The main event here, though, has to be the ping pong table that you can book in advance. What better way to find out if the two of you are truly in sync?
15 Charlotte Lane, EH2 4QZ – sygn.co.uk
This romantic bar has a cracking cocktail selection, and if you can’t find a sofa to snuggle up on, there’s always space in the roomy beer garden out back. The atmosphere created by their twinkling fairy lights will have you all a flutter.
37-39 Leven Street, EH3 9LH – theblackbirdedinburgh.co.uk
It’s been through a few changes over the years (Nirvana once played here, if you can believe it) but The Southern bar is currently a super cool and spacious pub. Welcoming and relaxed, this place will put you at ease and hopefully rid you of too many pre-date jitters.
22-26 South Clerk Street, EH8 9PR – thesouthern.co.uk
What if we told you you could enjoy a stunning view of Princes Street and beyond with a cocktail in hand without forking out for the Balmoral? Juniper is the answer, and your date will still be blown away by this beautiful bar. You’re welcome.
20 Princes Street, EH2 2AN – juniperedinburgh.co.uk
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Main image: Instagram / @cocosaimone