Where to drink during the Edinburgh Festival

Escape the main Fringe venues and head to the finest pubs and bars the Scottish capital has to offer

While alcohol is not medicinal, when it comes to the curative powers of comedy, it can help the medicine go down, and this symbiotic relationship is unavoidable at the Edinburgh Fringe. The world’s largest comedy festival, which runs throughout August, is drenched in drink.

As the Thinking Drinkers, we’ve taken this association a stage by offering audience members at our  show free drinks during the performance. And we’ll be encouraging them to dip into the Edinburgh bar scene once the show is over, where they’ll find some of the best paid-for drinks in the world.

We accept many festival-goers will find themselves waiting for a show in the Underbelly’s George Square garden or Pleasance Courtyard, faced with a selection of mainstream muck. But if you are at the Fringe, then do find the time to steal away from the main venues and seek out these top quality boozers…

Bramble, 16A Queen St, EH2 1JE
Consistently ranked by bartenders as one of the best bars in the world, Bramble is an unassuming basement cocktail bar serving up peerless mixed drinks. The owners also have their own Scottish white rum, Sea Wolf (delicious in a daiquiri), and a super tasty Braemble Liqueur. For us this is the best place in town for a gin martini and we stop in at least once every year. www.bramblebar.co.uk

Bow Bar, 80 West Bow, EH1 2HH 
Granted it’s a tourist favourite, but this isn’t always a terrible thing, look at London’s Madame Tussauds – that place rocks… right, guys? Regardless, there are 300 whiskies on offer in the bar here and the environment is free of twee tartan and bagpipe din, paring everything back to the essentials: seats and shelves packed with quality whisky. www.thebowbar.co.uk

Downstairs at The Devil’s Advocate

The Oxford, 8 Young Street, EH2 4JB
& The Cambridge, 20 Young St, EH2 4JB, 
Something old and new with two neighbouring New Town pubs that nod to the rather massive English contingent in Edinburgh this month. The Cambridge has always been our stop at the end of the run, our useful post-match burger to chew on as we gaze at sport on a big screen, weary and wondering why the laughter has suddenly stopped. On the surface a standard, upmarket boozer, but standards are high across the board. A fine range of Scottish beers, stuff you can actually drink without being too navel-gazing beer nerd about the whole thing, all delivered with considerate customer service. The Oxford meanwhile, strips things back. A perennial favourite with wordsmiths; Ian Rankin has been spotted among the bar flies drawn to the lack of fripperies, such as taxidermy or other wacky decor touches, and the high-quality service with a smile. One of the best nae nonsense boozers in the city.  www.oxfordbar.co.uk/, www.thecambridgebar.co.uk  

Devil’s Advocate, 9 Advocate’s Close, EH1 1ND,  
The leading liquor light in the Old Town. Upstairs the restaurant serves up dishes made up of seasonal Scottish produce, while downstairs you’ll discover a glorious cocktail offering and wide whisky collection. We can’t speak highly enough of it, and should also give a shout to the sister venue Bon Vivant in the New Town, another worthy contender.  devilsadvocateedinburgh.co.uk

Thinking Drinkers are the Edinburgh Fringe Festival from August 2-12 and 14-26. To book tickets, go here


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