Introducing six of Scotland's hottest cocktail bars up and down the country, from big cities to smaller ones and into the countryside, where the finest distillers of single Scotch malt whisky and brewers of Guinness are found.
Balmoral Bar1 Princes Street, Edinburgh
The classy Balmoral Bar is in the hotel of the same name. An Edinburgh landmark and firm favorite, this hotel has the best location in town, next to Waverley railway station and overlooking Edinburgh Castle. So, if you're looking for five star service in a five star setting, this is the place. Despite the posh sounding description, it's not stuffy. My twenty-something friend living in Edinburgh recommends it as a hot bar, perfect for those times when that little black dress needs somewhere to go. Expect classics with a surprising twist, like "Citrus Cosmopolitan with Blueberry Juice." Sample The Cocktail Tasting Menu at £25 ($40) if you're not driving. Perhaps your idea of a hot bar is champagne or a single malt whisky served up accompanied by harp music from the balcony? Then, try Bollinger's Bar in the hotel's pretty Palm Court.
Dragonfly Cocktail Bar
52 West Port, Edinburgh
The Dragonfly mixologists have a definite following. They're right in the heart of Old Town, of course. Or, could it be their unique creations? Here you can find a kumquat floating in your vodka, or maraschino and more in with your 12 Year Old Glenfiddich Single Malt Scotch Whisky, and you can just imagine what's in the "Guinness Daiquiri", which they claim takes exactly 119.5 seconds to make. If these concoctions sound a bit odd, just stick to their updated classics, such as "Watermelon Mmmartini," one of the staff picks. Cocktails from £3.70 ($5.85) to £7.95 ($12.50), the Dragonfly bartenders are mixing for the crowd every evening until 1:00 a.m.
The Corinthian Club
191 Ingram Street, Glasgow
The Corinthian Club is a "setting of the highest European standard," says The Herald Magazine. This is a 24-hour bar, brasserie and casino with 14 glamorous rooms rolled into one. Housed in a stately 170-year-old former bank building, the soaring ceilings, glittering chandeliers and ornate plasterwork are more palatial than practical. I know people who say they could charge admission just to come and look at this place after the £5.7 million renovation in 2010. It's all happening on all five floors and 'round the baby grand piano at the circular bar lit up in blue lights. Choose from the cocktail menu featuring a "Perfect 10 Martini" at £6.75 ($10.70) or "Breakfast at Tiffany's" at £6.25 ($9.90). Downstairs is the club if you're in the mood for dancing. Celebrity spotting, anyone?
11 Exchange Place, Glasgow
Imagine being aboard the Queen Mary but without the motion sickness. After all, the famous Cunard ocean liner was built in the Glasgow docks on the Clyde in 1935. At Rogano, handsome art deco interiors recall the fashionable, decadent 30s of the upper classes. Go for a Bellini to indulge in the feeling of that era and you'll feel a world apart. Enjoy the oyster bar upstairs, with fresh seafood from Scottish waters. This landmark is the oldest continually operating restaurant in Scotland; think Duke and Duchess of Windsor mixed with Madmen, all set in Glasgow.
The Bar at Gleneagles
Gleneagles is a world-famous five star hotel, spa and golf resort considered the best in Scotland. An hour from either Edinburgh or Glasgow, this country house resort is set on 850 acres in lush Perthshire. Here is the place for sampling the best and widest array of single malt Scotch whiskies on the planet in the perfect setting. The "Best Whisky Bars" list by Condé Nast Traveler notes this bar serves 120 malts. Gentlemen, grab your finest dress kilt in the family tartan and you'll fit right it. Although your kilt has no pockets, you'll want to bring a wallet. If you don't fancy a whisky, there's vintage champagne, excellent wines and the very best Guinness on draught into the wee hours. The Blue Bar is the cozy showcase for Johnnie Walker Blue Label with heated leather sofas around the fire pit. The Dormy Clubhouse Bar & Grill has a tandoor open fire oven and views over the 18th holes of the King's and Queen's golf courses.
333 Union Street, Aberdeen
Soul Bar is housed in a former church resplendent with stained glass windows and vaulted ceilings. This hotspot's garden has heat lamps, an absolute essential to keep Aberdonians happy and warm. The bartenders run a mixology school which includes a Bloody Mary Red Snapper; the twist is a balsamic glaze. The "Garden Martini" uses only Scottish ingredients. Cocktails from £6.50 ($11), non-alcholic drinks from £3.50 ($5.50).
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