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This Sunday Wine Down we’re going to talk about 3 great bars that you should visit when you are in Edinburgh, Scotland. The craft cocktail and beer scene has taken off over the last few years or so and guess what? In my opinion, this is one of the greatest things that could have happened. I love that we are going back and learning how to make not only classic cocktail correctly but coming up with new well crafted innovations, same for beer with the focus on small batch high quality beer as these craft brewers take a lesson from the Belgians. In the United States we now have beer that matches with some of the top in the world. We no longer just drink Bud and Coors. We use that for water now in California since we are all dried up. In all seriousness though the boom of craft cocktail bars and craft brew houses is really good for the world with a focus on quality local and sustainable ingredients. It is great to see that our generation cares just as much about what we are eating as much as what we are drinking. Without further ado here are our 3 favorite craft cocktails and beer bars in Edinburgh.
The Hanging Bat
The first bar that we are going to talk about is a craft beer place that also has amazing BBQ. (Oh by the way we found out the Scotland is going through a huge BBQ revolution and they know what they are doing!) The Hanging Bat was a great find. Ash had read a couple articles on it and we both decide that it would be something worth checking out.
This place has a really great young vibe to it. They have a huge selection of beers and we could have spent days (or one very drunken day) going through them all. Besides brewing their own beer they also showcase great breweries from all around the UK as well as a few international beers. I have to admit that I do not remember what beers we got. I forgot to write it down. I know, I know bad bloggers. I know one was a red ale that was out of this world and the other was a hoppy IPA which were both on tap. I promise you we loved our beers we had a couple more and then came back later that night to continue enjoying beers. It is also good to note that they do rotate through their beers depending on season or just what they have at the time. They have 6 cask and 14 keg lines on draught. So they will have something delicious for you to choose from. Oh they also have a huge bottle list so there is plenty of beer to go around. Just look at their fancy UK beer map!
Lets talk about their food menu too. I was not able to try everything on their menu but my God it looked really good. We had their nachos that were covered with their pulled pork. I can honestly say that I have never had better nachos in my life. I was licking the bottom of the tray that they came in. The rest of the food is made perfectly for beer. They have a great selection of grilled hot dogs and I really do enjoy a good hot dog but I over ate them in Iceland so I had to pass. They also had pulled pork sandwiches, mac and cheese, pork ribs, potato salads, baked beans and all the comfort food you can think of. Truly though, those pulled pork nachos were a gift from the heavens. You can check out their menu here.
I highly recommend the Hanging Bat for anybody who enjoys beer and BBQ. You can tell that they take a lot of pride when it comes to what they do. They have a passion for beer and for educating people on craft beer. This is a must stop when visiting Edinburgh and I know Ash and I can not wait to come back.
The Potting Shed
After Ashley and I hiked Arthur’s Seat we were really in need of a beer. We searched through google maps to see if a pub would pop up and what we found was a place called The Potting Shed. We decided to go purely on the name alone. I will have to admit when we walked in it was not what we expected. Ashley and I both assumed that it was going to be a dive bar. We both really love dive bars and were looking forward to a cheap ale to cool us off from our hike.
We were pleasantly surprised though when we walked in and it was not a dive bar at all; it was instead a modern bar with rustic accents. Lets be honest, it was something you would find in San Francisco filled to the brim with people sporting mustaches and ironic and unnecessary eyewear. The best part though, was that it had none of those people. It had a very welcoming vibe and a really cool look. We took seats at the bar because I really don’t like sitting at tables when I am at a bar. Just like The Hanging Bat it had a huge chalk board with their craft beers that they had on tap there. You could tell that they rotate their menu often as well since we saw them updating the menu while we were there.
They had a cool system were it look like the beers were being poured out of an old wine barrel. It went really well with the potting shed theme. Ashley started out with the Aspall Cider which was dry, light and crisp with just a hint of sweetness; perfect for quenching a thirst after that hike and I started out with the Dead Pony Club IPA Which I got for the name alone. It was slightly hoppy with some nice citrus notes. Not too heavy for a warm day. After that Ashley moved onto the Hopricot Ale which had a slight apricot flavor but wasn’t overly cloying and I had another IPA, this time the Session IPA. Again I stuck to something hoppy with some fruit to it, I am from California we love our IPA’a.
We ordered a couple of beers and took a look at the menu. I would describe their menu as modern tapas with a few main dishes. A lot of it was small plates that were meant to be shared with other people. We really enjoy this concept because it allows us to try multiple things. They took typical Scottish ingredients and then put their own creative twist on them. All their ingredients seemed to be farm to table, meaning very fresh and good quality ingredients. I would assume that the menu changes depending on the season. We started with the sweet potato and giant couscous fritters with tzatiki sauce and then Ashley had a baby carrot and lentil salad and I had fried mussels. Both dishes being superb and perfect for after our hike. It was a great little snack with our beers. For all you vegetarians and vegans out there this is a great place for you. They offer many vegan and vegetarian dishes that look really good.
If your are not up for beer they also have a really cool craft cocktail selection. Unfortunately we did not try any of them because we were trying to to be good and not spend too much. (I blame Iceland completely for our low bank accounts.) The place was awesome though and was a great surprise. The staff are very friendly and we had a great conversation with the bartender. I will definitely be back in the future. If you like good food, great beer, and what look to be good cocktails this is the place for you.
Bramble Bar really does not need any introduction. It the most famous craft cocktail bar in Edinburgh. It felt like everybody we knew told us to check this place out. This place really does not need us to promote it, it doing just fine on its own. It made Bartenders Magazine’s top 20 bars in the world. Suffice to say they know what they are doing.
I will admit it was a little hard at first for Ashley and I to locate this place. We had the directions and we must have passed by it at least three times. So if you are looking for it just remember to look down because it is a cellar bar. They don’t have a big sign to say “Hey! Look we are here”. They have a small gold plaque on the wall halfway down the stairs. Also we went at midday and it was not crowded like it usually is on the weekends so it was easy to miss.
As I said it is a cellar bar. It is very small bar which I believe we were told can only hold about a hundred people. Now when you are this popular that is not much. On the weekends they have a doorman to control the crowds. So my suggestion is to be like us and go mid day on a Wednesday when nobody is there. Ash and I don’t like being part of the “in crowd”. We tend to no longer go out on Fridays and Saturdays. I mean it is Friday night as I write this piece and I am sitting in my apartment. We are really cool though, I promise. Let me digress though, if you want to go when the place is going off than Friday and Saturday nights are your nights. Just practice the all important skill of patience. These guys make amazing craft cocktails and it is worth the wait.
Because we were there mid-day on a Wednesday we were able to talk to the bartenders, Sam and Simone, since the bar was fairly empty. The place is very modern with a cave like aspect to it. You feel like you found an underground spot that only the kids in the know are invited to except that everybody knows about it. Ashley and I sat and talked Sam, as he was the one behind the bar, and had a couple of their specialty cocktails. In my opinion, order their craft cocktails, it is what they are known for. You can have a gin martini (yum) any other time. The cocktails were fantastic and you can tell that the bartenders are really knowledgable. They take their craft very seriously and that is exactly what you want. I had the Walt Whitman which had bourbon, vermouth bianco, yellow chartreuse, and a single malt whiskey. Ashley had the Bramble which had gin, simple syrup, fresh lemon juice, and creme de mures. Both of these drinks were well balanced and were easy to sip on, too easy. We had planned to only have one but they were so good that we had to have two more cocktails, the Red Rum and the Beverley Jane. You can check out the rest of their menu you online.
Ashley and I left very happy and it was great to talk to the people who work behind the bar. They were extremely friendly and helpful. Know though, that when it gets busy it becomes harder to have this one on one time with the bartenders. So if you want to be a part of the crowd go on Friday and Saturday and if you want a more relaxing time go on an off night or during the day. Ash and I will be coming back to this bar the next time we are in town.
Well that is it for this weeks Sunday Wine Down. I hope you enjoyed learning about three of our favorite craft cocktail and beer places in Edinburgh. Edinburgh is a great city with a great food and bar scene. We will definitely be going back. I hope you enjoyed our latest post. If you did please share and comment in the section below. If you have other places you think we should visit please let us know in the comment section. Thank you guys for all your support! Remember, go out, travel, and change the world.
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