Becoming the legal drinking age is probably the best stage of anyone’s life, you can now drink publicly without hiding out in someone’s flat with friends drinking cheap booze. If you’re even more lucky in live in the great city of Edinburgh then you will come to discover amazing places to try. Asking anyone the norm of ‘Where’s a good place to go’ can sometimes turn into a hearty debate with some places feeling too overrated and looking for that sweet spot to turn your jaunt to any old pub or bar into a feel-good experience. Here are 10 bars in Edinburgh that are overrated AF, and where to go instead.
1. Tiger Lilly – Candy Bar
The beauty of Edinburgh George street franchise is the good Tiger Lilly with their fancy outlook and pricey cocktails – good for anyone wishing to succumb to the norms, Tiger of a posh bar and its image rather than experience. Sticking to the George Street location but something more exquisite, try Candy Bar – still sticking to the posh ‘Made in Chelsey’ vibe but with a bit more zing for their cocktail selection (if you are looking for that sort of familiarity). In addition, they have a bright theme and a lovely display of walls with jars of candy for that extra sweet sensation.
2. Frankenstein’s Pub – Banshee Labyrinth
If you seek a more Gothic or horror culture in Edinburgh, you have probably come across Frankenstein’s Pub. Located on the popular George IV Bridge in the heart of touristy Edinburgh with its 3 levels and monster show, it can sometimes be a bit overbearing. If you want a more true and mysterious goth vibe that will have lasting memories, then try Banshee Labyrinth. Staying true to its nature, it has more secrets than the passages of Edinburgh, with various rooms leading throughout like a maze and includes a cinema for those who want to drink and be entertained at the same time with cult classics like ‘Kill Bill’ played. The bar itself is very much like a maze and every turn there is a new wonder to be discovered so you aren’t being sold short.
3. Bar Salsa – El Barrio
Looking more at international culture, Edinburgh does offer these perks. If you are more of a dancer for a Spanish culture then you would have heard of the ever famous Bar Salsa, located in Cowgate. Overrated due to the high drinking aspect, particularly which attracts students, but any means of interaction or culture is bypassed and has instead lost its touch. However, if you do seek something of a more dance vibe and the expectations of a good time then try the ever famous and overlooked El Barrio. More of a club but with weekend salsa classes in the Hanover street area of Edinburgh, it will not disappoint. The feel-good Cuban themed bar has more to offer with their vibrant colours and fine selection of cocktails for a short term international hang out, just don’t forget your dancing shoes!
4. Brew Dog – The Hanging Bat
Everyone loves a fresh chilled beer and a good place to drink it, but finding the right spot can be tricky. For those who are more passionate about beer may want to be involved in the ‘craft beer’ culture. This offers more than your average beer and has a fine selection to choose from. Brew Dog in Edinburgh does offer this but has become too overrated joining the chain corporation. For those seeking a more unique experience and going somewhere only Edinburgh should offer, then why not try The Hanging Bat. Offering their exquisite micro-brews for those devotees of beer in their unique bat shaped taps to fit in with the bars theme means there’s room to enjoy something different to tell your friends, creating that ever so jealous vibe wishing they too had tried this for themselves.
5. Opal – Lulus
For a more club/bar mix for your more nightlife student gander, there is the ever so popular night club and dance scene of Opal. Located also on George Street, it is filled with high class people who look for a classy night out on the town seeking R&B tracks on the dance floor. Overrated for the prices of drinks and clientele with little character. Each themed night becomes a bit consistent and there no room for new flavour. Still sticking with the high-class vibe and less urbanised environment, try the everlasting and promising Lulus also located on George Street. Offering additional cocktail-making classes for the day time crew inside its interior stylish decor, and for those night owls: jam jar servings of alcohol and a vibrant dance floor. Overall, completing the sophisticated outlook, just make sure you dress to impress though.
6. Jolly Botanist – Heads & Tales Gin Bar
For those who are gin enthusiasts who seek only this delicacy of spirit may try the Jolly Botanist located in the Haymarket area. Although highly popular, it is overrated due to the high volumes of those people who ‘nip for a drink straight after work’ so less of a student vibe and more working class. Although it may be vibrant and feel of energy, there is little room to enjoy the gin itself and some may seek a quieter and less time constraint environment. For those pursuing a real gin bar experience, you may wish to try the Heads & Tales Gin Bar. It may be pricier than the usual bar scene but offers alternatives to build your own cocktail using their gin selection with added specialty taste from their own mixologists. It is more suited to those looking for a cosy but casual atmosphere to enjoy their drink.
7. Vodka Revolutions – Au Bar
Continuing with the subject of spirit tasting, Edinburgh offers the chain franchise of Vodka Revolutions. Although best known for their ludicrous cocktail selection and variety of homemade spirits, it can be a bit too overwhelming and as standard can become overrated. If looking for a bar with more history and character then try out the Au Bar located on Shandwick place. This bar offers exposure to an energetic environment with over 60 types of rum on offer and the odd pub quiz for those fanatics who want to show off their general knowledge with friends.
8. Panda & Sons – Hoot The Redeemer
For those places that offer a complete different experience where you always hear friends talk about but you have yet to actually try, there is the popular Panda & Sons. Located on Queen Street, it has a great atmosphere and live music but falls short on the ‘wow’ factor. To suggest something which is unique onto its own value and provides an all rounded unusual but memorable experience, search for Hoot The Redeemer. Mistakenly somewhere that doesn’t seem appealing until entering through the door of the tarot reader, can offer new opportunities to explore an alternative strange reality. One of the various perks is the arcade machine called the ‘Pinch n’ Sip’ claw. This picks your cocktail and you decide if you want the mysterious concoction to be cooked up. It is guaranteed to make all your wishes come true.
9. Dragonfly – Bramble Bar & Lounge
When seeking elegance and rare cocktails in a bar, you may go to Dragonfly for their fine collection and beautifully topped off seating arrangements for an older fashioned theme, which includes some tribal art and comfy seating areas to enjoy your drink. However, all of this doesn’t cover the fact that everything has aged a lot in the bar and is need of an updated haul, so in general can be listed as overrated for the vibe it provides. For something with a newer touch but keeping in rustic lines, have a bash at Bramble Bar & Lounge. It is a little more upscale but offers all the classics of any bar to refresh your thirst with an added friendly atmosphere.
10. Scotch Whisky Experience – The Bow Bar
Finally, for that all rounded Edinburgh and overall Scottish experience, everyone wants to make their stay – whether short term or if already living in the city-count. Particularly, if you are an international student and want to try what delicacies we have to offer. So, in line with Scottish culture, there’s nothing better than traditional whisky. For those who want to play safe and learn more about whisky in an educational sense there is the overrated but still handy to have Scotch Whisky Experience – an attraction which is all year round and gives the depth of whisky itself from manufacture to bottle. However, many just wish to relax and enjoy the drink itself, learn through good old fashioned taste to deliver their needs. For a more well-rounded and local whisky experience The Bow Bar offers over 310 single malts so will not be short of a good variety, making you the true Scotsman you may wish to be.
Edinburgh is full of culture and the bars on offer and never scarce. If anything, there’s always something new to try. However, if you are new to the city, such as being a student and don’t want to just jump right in, then why not try the above, make your own decisions on what you find suits you best and if anything, have a good time while doing it.