One of my favourite things to do - as I've written in my 'About the Girl' page on here - is scope out the best cocktail bars in Edinburgh. So, when an invitation landed in my inbox inviting me along on an exclusive Yelp Edinburgh Photo Walk around "the hidden cocktail bars around the city", I was intrigued to say the least! The walk was curated and guided by top Instagrammer @travelswithmyphone (Rachel), and she was a fountain of knowledge for taking great Instagram shots, including the best views of the city you can take in whilst dotting around the hidden cocktail bars.
Keep reading on to discover the best of Edinburgh's hidden cocktail bars...
1. Panda & Sons
Panda & Sons is arguably the most famed of hidden cocktail bars around the city, with its opening a couple of years ago creating a huge buzz for locals, and it's still going strong today. To start the Yelp Photo Walk by stopping in here was a great plan! I opted for the Gary Tank Commander cocktail - a mix of gin and orange blossom. Super refreshing and a good option for a Panda & Sons beginner (their cocktails list is a little off the wall, to say the least!). I previously wrote about Panda & Sons as a great date night option here.
2. Hoot the Redeemer
Hoot the Redeemer is the sister bar of Panda & Sons, so it felt natural that this would be our next stop on the walk. But, before getting there, Rachel showed us a surprising hidden Instagram spot - the fire escape building just off Thistle Street, Edinburgh. Who knew such a New York-esque fire escape was located in Auld Reekie, with its old tenement buildings and cobbled streets? Such a contrast! And a fantastic photography opportunity before we made it to Hoot the Redeemer.
Hoot the Redeemer is somewhere I'd yet to visit, and I'm glad I finally got the chance that night. Whilst snacking on spicy popcorn, me, Gillian and Louise all opted for the Jungle Bird slushie cocktail - a mix of dark rum, pineapple, sugar, lime and Campari. I loved the grown-up spin on a childhood classic slushie, and it was suitably boozy... *hic*. You can also grab your own flavour mixture in the old skool "pinch 'n' sip" arcade machine and take it to the bar to have them make up a cocktail with your choice of spirit - amaziiiiiing!
3. Secret Arcade Vodka Bar
Another classic bar in town that I'd always forgotten to visit is the Secret Arcade Vodka Bar. It was our third stop on the walk, and it was the place I ended up chatting so much that I clearly failed at taking adequate photos! As the menu was overspilling with vodka flavours, our guides eased our choice dilemma by bringing us all vodka and cranberry drinks (or so I think!?). Overall, however, I'm not sure I'd recommend this bar - it's a novelty to visit but I wasn't blown away by the service, bar area or drinks.
4. Under the Stairs
Again, another classic cocktail bar I'd always wanted to visit - Under the Stairs was probably my highlight of the night other than Hoot the Redeemer. I sadly can't manage to get my photos off from my phone to show my photos from the bar, but I opted for a glass of Malbec to finish off the night instead of a cocktail. Before we visited, Rachel showed us the famous hands just off the Royal Mile - with JK Rowling and Sir Chris Hoy's hand prints marking the spot. I'd never even known this was there! And, of course, the famed Victoria Street shot was another key landmark we had to take photos of (above). I think that may be my favourite view in Edinburgh, but don't quote me on that!
If you're from the Panda & Sons school of thought in terms of experimental cocktails, you'll love Under the Stairs' cocktail menu. With an array of drinks filled with quirky concoctions and a cosy warm atmosphere, it's the perfect place to take a date or a friend and while away the hours seated on the comfy sofas. The food menu looks quite interesting too - I'll certainly be back!
The whole evening was kindly provided to us by Yelp Edinburgh, to give us the chance to try out their new interactive map feature, which will be updated regularly based on new themes.
You can check out the cocktail bar and Instagram photo route we loosely followed from the night here - complete with all the photos from the #SecretCocktailsEdin hashtag!
Are you a fan of a hidden cocktail bar? What's your favourite?