Of all the gin joints in all the towns, in all the world, we love Edinburgh‘s batch of one-track-minded bars the most…
The city may be better known for its honey-hued whisky, but the new dram about town has swapped its ‘mother’s ruin’ rep for delicate botanicals and inventive mixers to become Auld Reekie’s most intriguing tipple. Here’s our pick of dens to get your G&T fixed in…
Best for Tutored tastings and clandestine corners
Don’t miss The Rutland Hotel-affiliated bar shares underground quarters with the excellent Edinburgh Gin distillery. Take a tour of their brick-walled warren – stopping by the two working, vintage stills, dubbed Flora and Caledonia – before tasting a flight of classic and fruit-and-spice-infused gins.
Signature drink Ask one of the friendly barkeeps to assemble a bespoke cocktail from a list of top-drawer small-batch gins and out-of-the-ordinary fixings (we’re rather fond of the Sipsmith Sloe Gin with ginseng).
Stay The Rutland Hotel‘s decadently dressed apartments and rooms are just a few steps from the entrance’s stone steps.
Best for Cosmopolitan quaffing
Don’t miss A gin-tasting with matched tonics in the bar’s colourful modern surrounds. Settle into a lime-green wingback chair and let the bar’s expert staff select three or four slugs from the 60-strong selection, matched with high-quality fixings. The bar’s terrace overlooks Festival Hall and Edinburgh castle, and heaters fight off any chills.
Signature drink When in a Scottish gin bar… A Fentimans or Fever Tree-tonic-swirled drop of the bar’s own-brand batch, One Square Gin – a heady concoction of liquorice, anise, juniper and heather – is de rigeur.
Stay The Chester Residence, whose sleek modern apartments match the bar’s burnished look.
Best for Spirit animals
Don’t miss Housed in the former Royal School of Veterinary Studies (now an arts complex), this off-the-wall pub has assorted animal bones hanging over the cosy sofas. Enjoying your drink? The Summerhall Distillery, which makes the Pickering’s gin it contains, is just next door; stop into their shop for a slugworthy souvenir.
Signature drink The cinnamon and lavender notes in Pickering’s gin play nicely with the maraschino liqueur, crème de violette and lemon in the bar’s moreish Aviation cocktail.
Stay 21212 Restaurant with Rooms, a Michelin-star-bearing boutique stay, does for food what the Royal Dick does for gin.
Best for Palate-enhancing masterclasses
Don’t miss We love the boozy afternoon teas in this laid-back, neon-lit drinkery, which are served with a brief backstory of Edinburgh’s gin affair. Gin-and-cheese tastings turn tradition on its head, and the Tanqueray Secret Gin Garden offers respite for played-out festival goers.
Signature drink The refreshing Curious Cucumber Tea (locally produced Hendrick’s Gin, rose syrup, cucumber, lemon juice and champagne), served in a dainty bone-china cup.
Stay G&V Royal Mile Hotel, where the brightly hued bar has a fine line in small-batch-gin-spiked cocktails. The Pickled Snapper with Botanist Islay gin (made on a west-coast Scottish isle), tomato juice, chilli syrup and Lillet Blanc is the thinking person’s ‘hair of the dog’.
Best for Dandyish drinkers
Don’t miss The Gin of the Week Club, which unearths unique tipples such as complex-bouquet-bearing Monkey 47 gin or Lebanese-mint-infused Daffy’s gin.
Signature drink A classic G&T muddled with Rock Rose gin, which hails from the most northern mainland distillery in Scotland.
Stay Ardmor House‘s chaise longues are ideal for post-partying repose, and the B&B’s hearty home-made breakfast buffet is a cure-all tonic for over-indulgers.