Cock of the Walk: Edinburgh Cocktail Week 2019

Shiny lights, big flavours, giant mushrooms and domes on the roof – a look at the magical and ridiculous world of the Edinburgh Cocktail Week

Feature by Peter Simpson | 04 Oct 2019
  • Edinburgh Cocktail Week

Edinburgh Cocktail Week is back, and it’s more OTT and WTF than ever before. Now taking place over a full week with more than 70 bars involved, it’s a celebration both of the city’s drinking scene, and the drinks world’s tendency towards ludicrously camp displays of power. If you like bright lights, tasty beverages and aggressive corporate branding, it's the place to be. Here are some of the places we recommend enjoying a tipple during this year’s festival.

In a cocktail bar

As we said earlier, more than 70 bars are involved in the Week’s simple premise – buy a wristband, then wave that wristband to get £4 cocktails devised exclusively for the week’s festivities. The venues are dotted all over the map, but three that have our seal of approval to get started with are Camera in the southside, The Basement on Broughton Street, and the Lioness of Leith in… Leith. Start there, and work your way around.

In a cocktail village

Bars come and go, but a Cocktail Village? That comes but once a year. The Village itself, in Festival Square on Lothian Road, features nearly 20 pop-up bars from #brands of all shapes and sizes, from big lads like Patron Tequila and Absolut Vodka to local greats like Pickering’s Gin and Pilot Beer. The Pop Up Geeks are also in tow, bringing an Indiana Jones-riffing ‘Temple of Rum’ to proceedings. There’s also a selection of masterclasses on offer, and the one thing that every Scottish food event needs – a sturdy roof.

In a cocktail forest

But what if the Village life is getting you down and you want to get back to nature – albeit a bit of nature that’s still carefully managed and overflowing with more alcohol than a 1930s speakeasy? Well, head to the Cocktail Forest, out the back of the Cocktail Village. There’s a wigwam, a forest floor and canopy, giant toadstools and even more pop-up bars.

At a cocktail class

If you like to mix your cut-price drinking with a little bit of learnin’, that is also an option. The new Holyrood Distillery is hosting interactive guided tours – you could go on one of those. Eden Mill are running a gin-blending masterclass – that could be interesting. Beefeater Gin will let you have a go at knocking together your own cocktail – those are skills that could prove useful when you’re trying to impress but haven’t topped up your drinks cabinet/ cupboard for a while.

In a cocktail dome

That’s right, a dome. New to Edinburgh Cocktail Week this year are these eight-seater tent-slash-nightclubs, sat on the roof of the Glasshouse Hotel next to the Omni Centre. They’re the centrepiece of the rooftop garden at the Glasshouse, where you’ll be able to get stuck into even more mixed drinks, this time under the genuine actual stars.

Edinburgh Cocktail Week, 14-20 Oct, wristbands £6-13.50