It may be controversial but my favourite time of year for cocktail events and pop ups is not August (aka manic Fringe month) but the run up to Christmas. In these magical few months whilst the city gets darker and quieter, there is still a real buzz around the Edinburgh hospitality industry with several mammoth events to spoil the bar folk of auld reekie.
Kicking it off this year is Edinburgh Cocktail Week (Monday 15th-Sunday 21st October 2018) – a week dedicated to signature cocktails from some of Edinburgh’s most popular bars. Growing and improving off the back of last years’ event ‘Edinburgh Cocktail Weekend’, the founders have not only added 5 days but also 30 new venues for folk to sip n socialise round the city. On top of this, this year features a cocktail village to work as a hub for the event with an additional 15 pop-up bars ran by industry giants such as Edinburgh Gin, Johnnie Walker and Poco Prosecco. You’ll need to purchase your wristband here which means you can get the signature cocktails for £4 and have access to all of the above and more!
As a self professed creature of habit, I find Edinburgh Cocktail Week a excuse to try something new. So to force you to step outside your drinking comfort zone whether it be leaving George Street or trying something not gin based, today’s post is a little bit of love towards the some of the new venues that are participating this year for the first time.
Gin Basil Smash - Grand Café at The Scotsman 20 North Bridge, Edinburgh EH1 1TR
I’ve been looking for any excuse to nose round the beautiful Grand Cafe in the Scotsman Hotel. Previously the heart of the bustling Scotsman Magazine, this former advertising hall has had a glow up inspired by the ‘Grand Cafés of Europe’. Be sure to venture down the Scotsman steps afterwards to Brewhemia or ‘Pickering’s at the palace’ afterwards.
Vanilla Pod - Eastside 51a George St, Edinburgh EH2 2H
Rising in the ashes of the Opal Lounge, they’re promising boozy cocktails, craft beers and ready to eat street food. It’s ‘George Street but not as you know it’.
Soo I’ve only ever been out to a club on George Street once so I can’t say that I know George Street to begin with but essentially what I think they’re trying to do is create a low key space where if you fancy a drink, dance or scran you can do all three.
Tinsle’s return - The Fat Pony 47 Bread St, Edinburgh EH3 9AH
Hidden away between the Grassmarket and Lothian Road is one of my favourite wine bars that is worth leaving the beaten track for. It’s got cool contemporary vibes with modern wine and cocktail offerings. If you’re feeling peckish make sure you try one of their charcuterie boards or IJ Mellis cheese platters!
G & G - Barrelhouse Bar & Grill 35 Smokey Brae, Edinburgh EH8 7AA
It might be a shock to some of you but good bars exist past the end of London Road. Fact. This New Orleans themed bar was featured here as one of my ‘at the time faves’ and whatever I said then still applies tbh. If the weather is smiling on us, make sure you drink your G & G in their Hendricks themed garden post Arthur’s seat walk. You’ll have earned it. Their cocktail for this year is featured on Vegan Edinburgh’s list of drinks (all of the bars in this post are on it except from the Fat Pony’s drink although I can’t work out which bit isn’t vegan)
Although my list happens to be very Tanqueray based (not deliberate) the overall selection of cocktails (found here) is really extensive and will cover most drink preferences so I do recommend having a look beforehand. I thoroughly enjoyed my ECW experience last year and the team has definitely taken on the experience from last year to make it bigger and better than before.
Let me know if you end up going and you can follow what I get up to on instagram @edinburghbars. You can also read last years’ ‘fictional night out’ here for some more suggestions! Don’t forget you can purchase your wristband here.
Disclosure: Photography credit goes to Edinburgh Cocktail week. I have been invited to ECW but views and opinions are my own and completely independent.