THE RACONTEUR 50 Dean Street, 343 3221. www.theraconteuredinburgh.com Mon–Sun 5pm–1am. Basic pint: £3.50 Attending The Raconteur’s first birthday celebrations in November were their most loyal, self-selecting clientele: those in the business, those in the know, and those who simply appreciate a real cocktail. The Raconteur’s style is simple but fine, with rich mahogany furnishings and glass cabinets stocked with the rarest whiskeys in the capital. If an eccentric 17th century scientist were to move into an old Irish pub, it might look like this. Their menu has a range of vintage wines, international beers, and forgotten cocktail classics. These, when served in a quaint array of crystal decanters and silver punch bowls (all handpicked from charity shops and Irish auctions) hint at a glittery Gatsby era. It has a cool, underground (dare one say New York) feel, and still manages not to appear pretentious. High point: the ‘Death Flip’ or ‘The Last Word’ cocktails, followed by complimentary pretzels


Sun–Wed 11am–midnight; Thu–Sat 11–1am. Basic pint: £3.00

BLUE BLAZER 2 Spittal Street, 229 5030. Mon–Sat 11–1am; Sun 12.30pm–1am. Basic pint: £3.10

Attached to Edinburgh’s most cutting-edge theatre space, the Trav Bar offers good bar food, occasional music and play-reading nights, and a popular mix of stylish surroundings and artistic clientele. High point: Star-spotter’s heaven

It’s not much to look at, but there are few bars in Edinburgh which come close to overturning the Blazer’s lovable blend of character, service and melting pot atmosphere. Expect to drink with students from the nearby College of Art, gig-goers fresh from shows at the Picture House and Usher Hall, rugby fans on international days and more besides, all here to enjoy live open mic music on Sunday evening and a drinks list, which includes eight real ales, 50 whiskies and around 70 rums (the third Sunday of every month is the Blazer’s Rum Club). High point: Effortlessly traditional and vital

TRAVERSE BAR CAFÉ 10 Cambridge Street, 228 5383. www.traverse.co.uk

THE WEST ROOM 3 Melville Place, 629 9868. www.thewestroom.co.uk Mon–Wed 8am–midnight; Thu & Fri 8–1am; Sat 10–1am; Sun 10am–midnight. Basic pint: £3.35

A long, slim, stylish bar from the people behind Sygn and Monteith’s, the West Room offers high quality food and drink (including enticing wine and cocktail lists) in informal surroundings. High point: Marries style and substance well ALSO RECOMMENDED: The Cameo (38 Home Street) and the Filmhouse (88 Lothian Road) for cinematic drinking.


THE SAINT 44 Saint Stephen Street, 225 9009. www.thesaintedinburgh.co.uk Sun–Thu noon–midnight; Fri & Sat noon–1am. Basic pint: £3.10

Yes it’s another cocktail bar the Waitrose set really are well served in Stockbridge but it’s another little gem. Enjoy bar food verging on the gourmet or plonk for one of an eclectic range of fire-warmed chairs. Cocktails are excellent, though the small bar’s fridges are also stocked with a suitably trendy range of imported beers, and they have delicious, caramel- tasting Anchor Steam on tap. High point: Delightfully snug

ALSO RECOMMENDED: Hector’s (47-49 Deanhaugh Street) for the buzz and the brunch.


CHRISTMAS PARTY HOTSPOTS The Magnum Bar and Restaurant (1 Albany Street) is a friendly New Town option for group dining that combines good food and service with a cheery, convivial atmosphere. Nobles Bar (44a Constitution Street, www.noblesbar leith.co.uk, pictured) in Leith favours a hearty Christmas menu for £19.95 (festive pie, anyone?), as well as an excellent programme of live music. The Stand (5 York Place, www.thestand.co.uk) has an extra-special comedy line-up for 13–18 Dec, as well as main meals for just £8.95. Whistlebinkies (4 South Bridge, www.whistlebinkies.com) dispenses with the food to fit in more live music every night, with plentiful drink deals pre-8pm.

2–16 Dec 2010 THE LIST 19