Twelve keg lines and around 350 cans and bottles make this a must-visit for beer fans. If you know your helles from your doppelbock and can convincingly explain the difference between gose, saison and sour beers then saddle up at the Salt Horse. While the attached shop has one of the city’s widest beer selections, the Salt Horse is also a strong contender for Edinburgh’s smallest beer garden. Wines, spirits and ciders are also available. Chicken poppers, po’ boys, cauliflower bombs, burgers and loaded chips should keep the beer munchies at bay.
57-61 Blackfriars Street. Tel: 0131 558 8304
Victoria Street may be a magnet for tourists and Harry Potter fans but The Bow Bar looks as though it has not changed since the early twentieth century – even if it does only date back to 1987. Lots of real ale, a splendid selection of whisky plus staff who can knowledgably guide guests through the bottles are just some of the reasons why this place won Best Bar at the 2022 Scottish Hospitality Awards. Proper howff.
80 West Bow. Tel: 0131 226 7667
Should you require some time out from the festival carnage, jump a bus to the seaside ‘burb of Portobello. It may be known as Nappy Valley on account of the number of Edinburgh couples that move here to sprog but those new parents need good bars to calm their frazzled nerves. Step forward Porty Vault, a new sour beer bar and smokehouse. At 9% ABV, the Blackberry Raspberry Heather Honey sour should wash away any memories of even the worst student production of Hamlet. If Portobello seems a step too far, try their Vault in the City on West Maitland Street.
243 Portobello High Street. Tel: 0131 609 0810
The Register Club
For top bragging rights, the ultimate night on the tiles would involve a visit to the Lamplighters rooftop bar in the recently launched Gleneagles Townhouse hotel on St Andrew Square. However, since it is only accessible to hotel guests and those prepared to pay the not inconsiderable private members’ club fees, then tipplers can enjoy a similar sense of exclusivity at The Register Club, the cocktail bar in Cheval The Edinburgh Grand, also on St Andrew Square. Once the National Bank of Scotland, the imposing pile has been converted to luxurious serviced apartments and, on the fourth floor, The Register Bar and Lounge. This is where mixologists in spotless white jackets mix up classic Aviations and El Presidentes alongside their own signature cocktails such as The Grand: white rum, Chinotto, citric acid mix, IPA cordial with grapefruit, juniper, green tea, all topped with soda water. Booking is advised.
42 St Andrew Square. Tel: 0131 230 0570
L’escargot bleu Wine Bar
Fred Berkmiller’s L’escargot bleu restaurant on Broughton Street has long been a popular fixture on the capital’s dining scene. At the tail end of last year, the street level restaurant was joined by a new basement wine bar. The open fire will – hopefully – be redundant in August but the wine nooks, converted cellars running under the street, offer a cosy hang-out for small groups. Along with a thoughtful selection of wines, visitors can keep body and soul together with nibbles and small plates such as salty anchovies on thickly buttered bread, hare and black pudding terrine or raclette cheese with rosette salami from the Pyrénées.
56 Broughton Street. Tel: 0131 557 1600