The sun has made a few rare appearances in Edinburgh recently and the natural response of locals and tourists alike is to find the perfect spot for soaking up the rays while sipping on a cold beverage or two, writes Stephanie Abbot
If The Pear Tree and Indigo Yard are packed, here are some less well-known beer gardens to help combat the hustle and bustle of those rare Scottish summer days.
Paying homage to the cult classic The Big Lebowski, the drinks menu is entirely themed around characters and quotes from the film. Main character ‘The Dude’ fuels himself with White Russians so the drinks are based around the creamy recipe: they include The Toe, The Police Chief and The Undertaker and if you haven’t seen the movie it runs on a constant loop in the bar. If you head through the back and downstairs you will find a spacious beer garden with both shady and sunny spots to enjoy your cocktail or beer of choice. You could also sink your teeth into one of their legendary stacked burgers with toppings galore.
18 Morrison St, www.lebowskis.co.uk/edinburgh
Dubbed ‘The Cowgate’s best kept secret’, this bar is part of The Smart City Hostel on Blackfriars street and offers a chilled out vibe perfect for casual drinks whatever day it is. It has an umbrella covered terrace complete with a lower level space with seating for a chance to catch some sun. There are a range of craft beers, reasonably priced cocktails and classic bar snacks like chicken wings and nachos if you’re feeling peckish.
50 Blackfriars St, www.bar-50.co.uk
If it ain't broke: you know the rest… Nestled in the New Town, the Cumberland offers a secluded but simple beer garden. The space includes picnic benches and a nice spot of greenery, creating a relaxed setting without being unnecessarily pretentious. There’s a massive choice of ciders, ales and wines to wet your whistle and classic tasty pub grub to boot. It can get busy on sunny days, so get down early.
1-3 Cumberland St, www.cumberlandbar.co.uk
Tucked away in Broughton Street Lane, this dog-friendly bar allows you to bring your puppy pals along while you enjoy a bit of al fresco drinking in the summer months. The Outhouse is also a great place to pop into before the club for a funky vibe thanks to regular live DJ sessions. Having recently teamed up with St Andrews Brewing Company, they boast a range of beers to suit even the fussiest of tastes.
12A Broughton St Ln
Located at the popular Shore area of Leith, this pub is the former waiting room for the Leith to Aberdeen steamboat ferry, so offers a unique twist on the ‘beer garden’ as we know it. On those rare sunny days, customers can enjoy pints on a pontoon and - to avoid patrons turning pink - free sun tan lotion is available from the bar.
The Canny Man’s
Established in Morningside in 1871, this pub continues to be a popular choice thanks to its quirky and old fashioned decor. However, most people don’t realise that hidden behind a brick wall is a small but peaceful beer garden. A perfect spot for sipping your favourite tipple in the sunshine.
237 Morningside Rd, cannymans.co.uk
Forget Narnia: if you venture into this bar on Leith Walk you will find a secluded bamboo beer garden behind a strategically placed wardrobe. The bar itself is kitted out with fake furry critters and makes for a quirky alternative setting for those after-work drinks.
260-262 Leith Walk, woodlandcreatures.co.uk
The Royal Dick
Once the small animal hospital of the Vet School, this quirky pub is conveniently located within the same site as Barney’s Beer brewery and Pickering’s Gin distillery. You’ll find it by venturing through the Summerhall courtyard and when the sun does put his hat on, head out front to the beer garden and take your pick from one of the benches as you soak up the arts hub’s cultural atmosphere. Great during the Festival too.
1 Summerhall Pl, www.summerhall.co.uk/the-royal-dick
Maxie’s Bistro & Wine Bar
So not ‘technically’ a garden but this balcony spot overlooks the winding street of West Bow for people-watching with more of a bird’s eye view. Located at the back of the bistro, it’s a fantastic place to enjoy a chilled glass of wine while watching the sun go down. As the temperature drops, you’ll find a box of blankets behind the bar to keep you cosy.
5A Johnston Terrace, maxiesbistro.com
Thistle Street Bar
Priding itself on being an ‘honest genuine boozer’ this pub is tucked away along Thistle Street and offers a friendly Scottish feel in the city centre. There is a wee area out the back that could make for a perfect sun trap to stop in while you enjoy a cold pint in a relaxed surrounding.
39 Thistle St, www.thistlestreetbar.co.uk