It’s that time of year again, when the city of Edinburgh transforms into a huge creative arts venue, hosting thousands of performers in both the Edinburgh International and Edinburgh Fringe Festival as even more visitors flood to the city’s streets to see them and drink in the sights and sounds of the world’s biggest arts festival.
This year, Scotland’s passion for the juniper spirit is reflected in the Edinburgh Fringe listings, and we’ve sourced several shows that will especially appeal to gin-lovers.
Not just that, but the city will boast a number of exclusive Scottish Gin pop-ups and local bars will be offering their selection of gins, tonics and cocktails to the throngs of thirsty tourists.
So, if you’re visiting the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this year, don’t miss our guide to gin at the Fringe – the only guide you’ll need to enjoy your favourite drink in Edinburgh this August.
The A Club
Situated in the heart of the city, The Merchant’s Hall is a truly stunning venue for the A Club – a selection of musical acts brought to you by The Arbikie Highland Estate. You can chill out with soul or jazz bands or experience an Abba tribute. But for Scottish Gin lovers, like ourselves, The Arbikie Masterclass is a must-attend event.
In an afternoon, the Arbikie team will guide you through all you need to know about their world-class gin, including the distilling process and their perfect serves. As part of your ticket, you will receive a welcome cocktail, tasters and the chance to create your own perfect serve. Tickets cost £20 and you can book here
Gin Safari, Edinburgh
If you want to see some of the best parts of Edinburgh, and enjoy some gin at the same time – this Gin Safari is your dream event.
A guided walking tour, featuring a Gin liqueur and fizz, the ultimate gin marshmallow experience, a slow wander through the elegant Georgian streets, gin cured salmon, gin and tonic chocolate, ending up in one of Edinburgh’s coolest gin joints for a G&T. You just know you want to! Gin Safari tickets are £29 and are available here.
Concerto for Gin
The Scottish Gin Society was proud to host the preview show for this inspiring group of musicians and gin-lovers.
For 3 shows only, The Bonnie Bartender (Amanda Currie) and friends will take you on a tour around Scotland by sampling some of the finest gins on the market, each accompanied by traditional music from the same areas of Scotland.
The music will be accompanied by some great chat and a friendly atmosphere, so if you’re looking to enjoy the best of Scotland’s music and some quality Scottish Gin, this is an evening for you. Tickets include your G&Ts and nibbles and cost £20 each. Book here.
Whisky and Gin tasting cabaret
Just over an hour of sultry cabaret music, while you enjoy free samples of gin or whisky in your very own shot glass. You will also learn about the distilling process of each spirit. This promises to be a great start to any Fringe Festival night out. Running throughout the festival and tickets cost £15 – book here.
Pickering’s Gin Jolly
Your chance to explore the awesome surroundings of one of Edinburgh’s original gin distilleries. With a G&T in your hand, you’ll be guided around The Summerhall Distillery, home to the award-winning Pickering’s Gin – a former vet school! Your guide will show you all the sights and you’ll get to meet the famous stills and sample the gins. You can book your gin jolly here for just £10. We highly recommend it.
Locked in The Distillery
While in Summerhall, why not check out this escape-show, based in The Summerhall Distillery? In this escape game challenge, you need to solve the mystery of who’s plotting against the distillery. Playing as a team, you’ll have a great time trying to puzzle your way out while saving the gin in the process – bonus! Game tickets for this previously sold-out event cost £70 and you can book here.
The Thinking Drinkers Pub Crawl
A Fringe-favourite with five free drinks! Relax and enjoy your tipples as comedy duo, The Thinking Drinkers take you on a history of booze, from the symposiums of Ancient Greece to the classic British boozer via Wild West saloons, Victorian gin palaces and the secret Speakeasy. Laugh and learn! Tickets are £13 and you can book your place on the best pub-crawl in the Fringe here.
Join the team at Summerhall Drinks Lab for a tasting of Scottish gin or whisky — the perfect way to pass your time between shows! Each afternoon from Tues – Sun during the Fringe they’ll alternate between the two. This is an hour-long tasting session, where you’ll receive a gin & tonic or whisky & ginger ale on arrival, then three neat samples of different styles of gin or whisky, with a selection of mixers available.
You will also learn about the history of Scottish distilling, from its modest beginnings to the current industry boom, through drams, stories, and great company.
Science of the Sesh
Summerhall Drinks Lab invites you to join them for an evening of experiments, laughs, and great drinks, where they’ll take a look behind what goes on in your glass, mouth, and brain when you consume your favourite beverages.
This is an interactive two-hour tasting featuring Scottish gin, whisky and rum cocktails and neat samples, where you’ll become a sensory scientist and challenge your perceptions of flavour.
Learn how to become a better taster and how to make your own drinks perfect; through practical challenges, experiments and of course, good old-fashioned drinking!
Exclusive pop-up gin features
The Distiller’s Garden
A new treat for gin-lovers in 2018. The Distiller’s Garden in Leith’s The Biscuit Factory is brought to you by the passionate team behind Old Poison Distillery. Serving their original Selkie Gin and their new Selkie Blush Pink in the inspiring surroundings of the distillery itself, this experience is open to visitors from 4th August. We recommend you pop in to meet Fabrizio and the team there if you’re in Leith and enjoy learning about and tasting their fantastic gins.
Old Curiosity at Harvey Nichols
For an utterly botanical experience, step onto the completely transformed Harvey Nichols balcony, on their 5th floor to discover The range of Old Curiosity gins.
Total bliss complete with heaps of herbs, a plethora of plants and even plots of lush, real grass.
Edinburgh Gin’s pop-up bars
Wandering the streets of Edinburgh is thirsty work during the Fringe, so keep your eyes peeled for the welcome sight of an Edinburgh Gin pop-up bar. Serving their range of Scottish Gins from a bespoke tipple trailer and this year, in the Edinburgh Gin Festival Garden at Potterrow, it’s a perfect opportunity to stop and people-watch for a few minutes (that’s our excuse anyway)
Hotel Du Vin Caorunn Summer Garden
Returning for the second year in 2018 The Caorunn Summer Garden at Hotel Du Vin, will offer Caorunn G&T perfect serves as well as a selection of five seasonal gin-based cocktails.
The garden is ideally placed for a stop-off en route to many of the festival’s key venues at Potterrow and Bristo Square, is open every day from 11am-11pm and besides the gins, will serve up tasty food and host live acoustic sets and BBQ evenings.
56 North Tanqueray Secret Gin Garden
Always one of the best places in Edinburgh to stop for an excellent selection of gins and great cocktails, 56 North (Scottish Gin Awards Gin Bar of the Year 2017) not only do they now distil their own gins on site but will be delighting gin-lovers again this year with the return of the Tanqueray Secret Gin Garden.
Open from 1st to 27th August, visitors can enjoy a new Tanqueray gin menu, new cocktail menu, a cakes and sweet treats trolley and weekend BBQs.
All of this is ideally located for lots of Fringe venues, with the bar running tastings, tours and masterclasses daily. We recommend you work a visit into your festival itinerary. Find out more.
The Hub Gin Terrace
Right at the heart of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, iconic venue, The Hub is offering locals and tourists alike the chance to escape the crowds and street performers during the festival on their brand-new Gin Terrace.
Visitors can enjoy an alfresco G&T with a range of snacks, overlooking the madness of the Royal Mile every day during the festival from 10am till late.
Rock Rose Terrace at Radisson, Royal Mile
Radisson Collection Royal Mile Hotel Edinburgh has opened the summer terrace pop-up bar in partnership with the wonderful Rock Rose Scottish Gin. Come rain or shine, Radisson and Rock Rose expert mixologists will be on hand to serve a variety of beverages in the peaceful tranquillity of the bar.
Our choice of great gin bars
A visit to the city of Edinburgh should always take in at least one of the hundreds of bars there are scattered around. But with such a smorgasbord of establishments on offer, how do you choose? We’ve done some of the legwork for you (we’re too kind) and bring you a brief run-down of some of the best gin bars in Edinburgh:
Based in the Sheraton Grand Hotel, One Square not only offers you a wide choice of gins in an elegant surrounding but you can sample their own gin or take part in their Ginnasium Gin tasting experience.
Above the Traverse Theatre, beside the Usher Hall, the bar team at DINE really know their gin. Relax in the stylish bar and try one of the exquisite cocktails or martinis from their menu. They also offer a fantastic martini experience, allowing you to sample several varieties and even create your own.
A new arrival to Edinburgh’s Quartermile complex, Apothecary is a Mecca for gin-lovers. We recommend stopping by to try one of their own EiDYN gin serves.
Winner of The Scottish Gin Awards Gin Bar of the Year, 56 North is worth a visit for their vast gin collection as well as their own micro-distillery plus the friendly and knowledgeable staff. Check out their house gin selection and the Tanqueray Secret Gin Garden.
Heads & Tales
Home to two of the Edinburgh Gin stills, the atmospheric and intimate Heads & Tales bar is hidden underground at the west end of Princes Street. Marvel at the extensive cocktail menu and enjoy gin as it is meant to be served. We’d recommend booking your visit in advance, as it can get very busy.
The Printing Press
Situated in The stylish Principal Hotel on George Street, The Printing Press bar and kitchen offers a wide range of gins and professionally-mixed cocktails late into the evening.
Stac Polly Gin Garden
Known as the home of Scottish cuisine in the city, Stac Polly has opened a Gin & Wine Bar, specialising in Scottish botanical gins served in large glasses, as well as their famous Scottish dishes.
As the name suggests, The Jolly Botanist specialises in gins and you could spend quite a while there looking at their gin menu alone. Located close to Haymarket, this traditional and welcoming pub also serves up delicious meals and snacks.
Honestly, we could probably go on for several more pages, as so many of the bars in Edinburgh city centre serve up a pleasing selection of gins. However, we hope we’ve given you some ‘gin-spiration’ for your Edinburgh Fringe adventure and we hope you have a fantastic festival! Please remember to enjoy your gin responsibly.