The Water of Leith at Leith

Smell that salty sea air? Nothing marries with the maritime better than a pint or a dram in a seadog’s shanty. What better place to continue my series of Savage Pub Crawls than in Leith, Edinburgh’s seaside aspect? Leith wasn’t always part of the city of Edinburgh – it was a distinct village until 1920 – and it retains a unique feel to this day. I don’t know if this was a lawless place full of bawdy sailors and freebooting pirates, but I can imagine it so.

Leith is undergoing a process of rejuvenation that has landed it some of the finest restaurants and condos in all of Edinburgh. As you would expect, there are also plenty of bars littering Leith’s winding streets, though more than a few are a bit seedy.

That’s where I come in.

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The Craigellachie Hotel Houses The Quaich Bar

Craigellachie. The heart of Speyside. This tiny town straddles the River Spey in the center of the whisky Bermuda triangle. Macallan and Dewar’s are a stones-throw away. Aberlour is a short jaunt to the west. Go north and you’ll find Glen Grant and Glenrothes. Choose the southern path and there, in Dufftown, stand Balvenie, Glenfiddich, and Mortlach. I could go on.

It makes sense, then, that one of the best whisky selections in the world hides here in the center, in Craigellachie (pron. creg-EL-ah-key): The Quaich Bar. It’s the kind of place that inspires one to create a series of blog posts dedicated to Scotland’s greatest whisky bars. Thus is born Malt Mansions. I’m excited to share these places with you not only because of their inspirational dedication to Scotland’s national drink… Read more...

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The Café Royal Bar in Edinburgh's New Town

I hope that by now you’re familiar with my series of Savage Pub Crawls. So far I’ve taken you around Edinburgh’s Royal Mile and the Bohemian southside. Now it’s time to tackle one of Edinburgh’s most pub-rich areas: the New Town. There are so many drinking dens in the orderly Georgian New Town that I could devise a different pub crawl every day for a month, but there’s a handful of pubs here that are true highlights of any visit to Edinburgh.

The New Town is a fantastic neighborhood for a pub crawl. When the people of Edinburgh drained the Nor Loch and built the New Town they focused on geometrical precision and symmetry. The result is a neighborhood where it’s easy to keep your bearings even after a pint or four. Read more...

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Edinburgh's Beehive Inn on the Grassmarket

It’s no secret that Edinburgh’s Old Town pubs and Southside pubs are dripping with visible character, but many of these drinking dens are extremely old with centuries of fascinating events waiting to be unearthed by the curious. Vibrant literary scenes seem to grow out of strong pub cultures (or is it the other way around?), and Edinburgh’s literary history is littered with heavyweights like Sir Walter Scott, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Ian Rankin. Both subjects are dear to my heart and a large part of why I love visiting Edinburgh. So when I heard of the Edinburgh Literary Pub Tour – a walking tour that combines pub lore, literature, history, and a healthy smattering of witty snark – there was no question how I would occupy one of my nights in Edinburgh. Read more...

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The Cask & Barrel (Southside) Glowing at Night

Edinburgh’s Old Town captures the lion’s share of visitors’ attention, and for good reason: it’s a living slice of medieval Europe so evocative even our fantasies struggle to match it (read: Harry Potter). One of the beautiful aspects of Edinburgh is that while the Old Town makes an immediate impact other neighborhoods ooze with interest and grow to rival the heart of Auld Reekie. If you give them the chance, that is. Edinburgh’s Southside is the perfect example.

A pub crawl is the best way to get the lay of the land. The crawl gives you a chance to walk the neighborhood, check out the local drinking holes, and pick up on the ambient vibe. Read more...

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