row of three colourful cocktails in a bar graphic

The Best Drinks to Order at Places for Cocktails in Edinburgh

Discovering the perfect cocktail can elevate your evening out in Scotland’s capital. Edinburgh, known for its vibrant nightlife and exquisite taste in beverages, offers a plethora of places for cocktails, each with its own unique flair and specialty drinks. This blog is your guide to navigating the best drinks to order at various places for cocktails in Edinburgh, ensuring a memorable experience in this historic city.

Whether you’re a local or a visitor to Scotland, exploring the cocktail scene in Edinburgh is an adventure in itself. From classic concoctions to innovative mixology, the city’s bars and lounges present a wide array of choices. In this blog, we’ll take you through some of the top picks and hidden gems, highlighting the must-try cocktails that define Edinburgh’s drinking culture.

Edinburgh’s cocktail landscape is as diverse as its history, blending traditional Scottish elements with contemporary trends. As we delve into the best drinks to order, we’ll also shed light on the stories behind these creations, adding an extra layer of enjoyment to your cocktail experience. Join us as we explore the rich tapestry of flavours and ambiances that make up the best places for cocktails in Edinburgh.

1. Old-fashioned

Few cocktails are as timeless as the Old Fashioned. While its origins remain unclear (with several people claiming they invented it), it likely originated sometime around the late 1800s with the proliferation of whisky and commercial bitters; these bitters would then often be prepared by steeping herbs, barks, and botanicals into spirits like bourbon to create aromatic extracts for use as flavour enhancers in beverages.

The Old Fashioned was initially simple until well into Prohibition, when bartenders started adding fruits such as orange slices and maraschino cherries to their drinks in order to hide the taste of bootleg whisky or simply because fruit was an easy and inexpensive addition.

Nowadays, there are numerous variations on this classic cocktail recipe; however, you cannot go wrong with one made with bourbon, sugar, and Angostura bitters. Not only is this drink great for first-timers looking to avoid offending bartenders but it is equally delectable when compared with more complex options such as Zombie cocktails (requiring four types of rum and more obscure ingredients that your average bar may not offer).

The best ways to customise an Old Fashioned include switching out its base spirit for something darker like rum or another spirit, introducing a different garnish, or altering the mixology techniques used in its preparation. Lu Brow’s Brown Butter Old Fashioned features brown butter-infused bourbon with demerara syrup, allspice dram, and two kinds of bitters; its flavours combine salty savoury notes from bourbon with earthy and sweet aromas from rum for an exquisite drink that truly deserves its name.

2. LIT

A lit cocktail is any high-proof drink containing lots of liquor that will leave you “lit.” Gin and tonic are popular choices, while rum and coke are another classic with an edge. For something sweeter and more tropical, try dark and stormy, made with ginger beer instead of cola. Corpse Reviver No. 2 falls slightly lower due to requiring ingredients most casual bars won’t carry, such as four types of rum, Cointreau Lillet Blanc absinthe and grenadine; yet this drink must not be underestimated, as being lit is also synonymous with being high on drugs or alcohol!

3. Negroni

Negroni cocktails are among the finest cocktails to choose if you know your way around cocktail bars, as their simplicity (three ingredients only) makes them accessible, while their bitter taste can surprise people who are unfamiliar with their complexity.

Negroni is a classic cocktail composed of equal parts gin, Campari, and vermouth rosso that’s often considered an aperitif drink. Perfect for sipping or drinking over rocks. While its origins remain unclear, many believe that it was created and named for Count Camillo Negroni in 1919 when he ordered an Americano at a Florentine caffe where the bartender added some gin, quickly becoming popular amongst friends and colleagues alike.

Negroni has long been the subject of bartending experiments. While variations on its original recipe have come and gone, it remains one of the best cocktails you can order. While its components can be combined in various ways, quality gin and vermouth make all the difference when making one; aim to use high-grade gin combined with softer vermouth for optimal results.

Some other Negroni variations include substituting prosecco for the gin, adding bittersweet suze, or even trying a salty caramel Negroni—perfect for summer parties and holidays when trying to limit alcohol intake! Plus, it makes an ideal drink choice when serving friends who don’t tolerate as much booze, as its lighter profile allows them to drink with no concerns!

4. Mai Tai

The Mai Tai is an eye-catching rum-based cocktail with fresh lime juice and almond-sugar syrup (orgeat), perfect for those who like their drinks strong. While easy enough to order in bars, its strength comes through.

Legend surrounds the Mai Tai’s origin, with both Donn Beach and Victor Bergeron claiming they created it first. Both men had significant impactful roles in Tiki culture so it’s impossible to determine who created it first.

Both versions of the drink are equally delicious; Trader Vic’s recipe differs only slightly from Beach’s in that he opts for Falernum, an aromatic Caribbean liqueur made of cloves, nuts, and lime flavouring instead of the more commonly known orgeat in his drink—his version dates back over 10 years before Bergeron’s!

One key difference between them lies in their respective approaches to garnishing cocktails: while Trader Vic’s Mai Tai features lime and mint leaves as garnish, Beach uses pineapple wedges and cherry picks—likely more representative of Tiki-style drinks—yet still deliciously enjoyable!

To create the ideal Mai Tai, select an aged rum that stands up against age—no spiced varieties! Instead, look for something with body and complexity like Appleton Estate’s Doorly’s El Dorado Plantation Pusser’s Denizen Merchant Reserve, which adds a depth of flavour that lesser-aged ones cannot match.

5. Sidecar

Some cocktails can be daunting to create at home, so ordering them in a bar is often best. One such classic drink is the gin and tonic, an easygoing mix of tartness and sweetness that provides refreshing refreshment without leaving you feeling overindulged or full afterwards.

Rum is another versatile spirit that can be enjoyed in various ways, such as with the classic rum and Coke combination found at most bars, which can be enhanced with lime or lemon wedges for a sour bite. Or try dark and stormy instead, which incorporates ginger beer to add a punch of flavour!

Brandy doesn’t appear frequently in cocktails, but it can add depth and variety to drinks such as the B&B (brandy and Benedictine) and the Brandy Alexander (chocolate liqueur, cream). Both drinks can easily be made at home and enjoyed when ordered from a bar.

Bourbon and whiskey are widely enjoyed spirits that can be added to many cocktails, such as the Manhattan or Old Fashioned. If you enjoy these cocktails, why not add a splash of absinthe for an Ab Roy or a drop of maple blackberry mojito syrup for something unique?

As there is such an array of cocktail choices, it is worthwhile to spend some time exploring your local bar or restaurant’s cocktail list. While this might initially appear overwhelming, after sampling several drinks, it will become easier for you to select an ideal drink for any special event or gathering.