Edinburgh Pubguide

I was a student at Heriot-Watt from 1976 to 1980 in the department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering.

When we were all in our final year, a group of us spent some time compiling an Edinburgh pub guide which we installed on the DEC PDP 11 computer in the department. This was updated quite regularly and was in use for several years after we all graduated. I finally got round to typing it in from an old copy which I still had.

Reading it now brings back a lot of memories and it is certainly a product of the times reflecting student social life and attitudes in the late seventies, far distant from todays hi-tech, media- orientated lifestyles.

Of the Authors I am not sure who WDM is and I think BDE is Brian Edwards. There is also one comment from AJM who is probably Alastair (Cheese) Minty. The rest are, of course:

In a way this publication is like a testament to our (lost?) youth and it certainly makes interesting reading.

Some of the comments are true classics as in RGAMs, "I've only been there once and that was for a piss."

Spelling mistakes have been preserved where possible.




Antiquary - St Stephen Street

A pub with a very nice atmosphere as long as you can avail yourself of one of the comfy couches on arrival. Serves quite a selection of real ales both draft and bottled. Please dress smartly here and keep up the good image of students in society. Good JB. SLH


Three bar establishment. One is coctail (ties only), on same floor (basement) lounge bar frequented by quite a few students/young trendies. Upstairs quite acceptable public, which also serves hot snacks. Free house beer is Bellhaven/McEwans with Carlsberg larger. RGAM


Bacchus Wine Bar - Hanover St - Queen St

A delightful little bar-cum-restaurant serving excellent lasagne and crepes as well as soups, a selection of sweets and coffee. Difficult to find if one is not quite sure of the location. This place will make a nice change for an evening out. Not the place, however, for riotous piss ups etc. SLH

The Bailie - St Stephen Street

A nice atmospheric pub with an almost circular bar. They serve a nice pint of Belhaven 80/s. Graffiti in the gents is not too bad either. Watch out for the bar maid with the bad temper, apparently she has sinus trouble but can be a little less than subtle with you when she wants. SLH

Beehive Inn - Grassmarket

A clean and nicely furnished place with an excellent selection of RA. It is rarely busy and is often quiet. The lighting is a little bright for some peoples tastes. The BBC series the Omega Factor was partially filmed here and there are some interesting photos of Louise Jamieson if you are so inclined. (She played Lela in Dr Who, enough said?). SLH

Sam Smiths is bloody good. ACT


Lovely old Victorian pub. Excellent beer (b'haven), and wonderful service. Very crowded most nights and a trifle chilly in the winter. Good cheap hot meals at lunch time (when it's not so crowded). RGAM

The Black Bull - Grassmarket

This recently opened pub is owned by the same management as Nicky Tams and Paddy's. It is a pleasant little pub serving Maclays and S/N. There is a rumour that no standing has been allowed here in the past. Sometimes live entertainment is available in the form of a pianist. Decor is stricktly Red. SLH

After a recent nights drinking in this establishment, it has been noted that the service is extremely slow, bordering on snails pace, especially if you do not stand out in a crowd. SLH

Jazz on tuesdays. SLH

Buckstone - Braid Hills

Smashing place to miss. Unfortunately the beer is quite good but with fat Jimmy the barman cum bouncer & half the Rangers football team this place lacks atmosphere. WDM


Burke and Hare - Bread Street (Well, near enough)

Used to be a fairly spit and sawdust joint, but has since been given a facelift - well, on the inside anyway. Beer is nothing to rave about either (bog standard McEwans), but if you're into a bit of the old Go Go, then this is the place for you. All shapes and sizes. I think the only good thing you can say about the place is the all day licence, although I suppose it does have some sort of character - in name if not atmosphere. Biggles.

Cafe Royal - West Register Street

Oval shaped bar. Victorian decor. Beer good. Atmosphere acceptable. SLH

Canny Man's

At first glance the prospective client could be forgiven for thinking that he or she had walked into a Pawn-Brokers cum secondhand Watchmakers residence. However the atmosphere is friendly and some interesting effects can be had with the UV light in the bar. Serves McEwans beers and also a suitably extensive selection of Whiskeys. The clientele are all mostly < or = 30 and give the place a nice atmosphere. Well worth a visit. SLH

Chick Murray's

Two bar establishment serving Belhaven, John Courage beer. Service not so great. Has coal fire in winter. Popular for piss-ups before parties. RGAM

Claret Jug - Great King Street

A plush interior consisting of real red velvet upholstery is sometimes disguised by the very number of people in this place. As you may gather by now this place is tres popular with the young and trendies. Do not dismay as you are guaranteed a nice pint of GGP to take your mind off the fact that there is hardly any room to breath. SLH

Covenanters - Royal Mile

Lounge bar, upstairs, is dimly lit and partitioned into at least three sections. Offers include Export, Skol and Guinness. A nice place to go for a drink with the lads or you could even drag the missus along. ACT

Athletic Arms (Gravediggers) - Angle Park Terrace

Hic biggles.

An excellent pub in most respects: Beer out of this world; service unbelievable; atmosphere different. Spit and sawdust without the sawdust. SLH

Franco's Office Bar

Otherwise known as Mussolini's revenge. I've only been there once and that was for a piss. RGAM


Otherwise known as Toni's Euro Bar. The delight here is not the beer. Nuff said, although the young ladies concerned tend to be a bit on the heavy side for my taste. Beer is Guards (ugh!). RGAM

The Green Tree - Cowgate

This pub is situated in the Cowgate, but don't let that put you off. They serve the REAL ALE, 10 different varieties. The serving area is small though if you are in early enough this does not matter as you are remembered. Being small, the pub is close and smokey but an ideal place for a lunchtime piss-up. BDE

Note: no female bog.

Greyfriars Bobby

This used to be an excellent pub - till it was done up. Now it's rather touristy, lots of tarten carpets etc. Still manages to sell the Lorimers real ale though, which is worth a trip (once in a blue moon). RGAM

Kays Bar - Jamaica Street

A very small bar with a quaint little model thing about the drunkards dream which springs into action when five pence is inserted in it. Packed on Saturdays as found out from personal experience. Beer OK. SLH

The Kennilworth - Rose Street

A nice pub full of nice guys. SLH

Ladyfield Bar - Morrison Street

Excellent establishment for blood sports. First hand experience can be gained in all forms of self defence, including karate, hap-ki-do, judo, fisticuffs and boot insertion. Sells beer too. Biggles

Last Drop - Grassmarket

Case of puke up rich with Dryboroughs Keg Heavy. Export may also be classified as GGP. Also on draught is Carlsberg and Guinness. Although the surroundings are quite comfortable, I wouln't recommend this Grassmarket pub unless you were really desperate for a pint. Good J.B however. ACT

Le Bistro - William Street

It's turned into a friggin restaurant. Biggles

Links Hotel

Popular establishment serving Bellhaven and McEwans ales and Tuborg Larger. Attracts wide spectrum of folk, studens, buisness types, locals, etc. Slow service. RGAM

Lovat Hotel - Inverleith Row (just off)

This hotel has the nice attraction of being open all of Sunday afternoon as the author has personally experienced much to the detrement of the rest of the day. The beer is acceptable and the JB reasonable. More research is required to determine the other opening times. SLH

Marina Hotel - Inverleith Row

A typical plastic pub with GGP courtesy of Tennant Caledonian Chemical Plant. It stays open late-ish at weekends I think. TV available. SLH

Mathers - West End

A drinking man's pub with dihorea brown decor. Good view for TV addicts. This is an ideal place for evenings out with the lads. Beer served is S&N but only Special was available the other night when RGAM had consumed all the Heavy and Export. SLH

Maybury Roadhouse

A typical "welcome inn" situated on the outskirts of town. Its nearest rival is the Royal Scot Hotel (just across the road), however, this is a Lorimers stronghold; enough said! The Maybury has three bars, the best beer undoubtably being from the public bar, plus another in the disco (held most weekends). The service is reasonable, usually from ageing "lesvites" (masculine looking women or maybe even vice versa!!) who, though rarely bombshells, are usually friendly! Open to 11 all week, and serves fairly good rolls at lunchtime. Bus 31 takes you there. NB Disco strictly for budding John Revolta types including the associated female equivalents!! Spike

Mount Grange Hotel

Rather plastic establishment serving Tennants larger and Bass special. Noted only for its late license, 12:00 weekends, some (variable) days during the week. Not too pricey though. RGAM

Nicky Tam's - Victoria Street

This used to be a really dreadful pub, but has been done up. It now serves the excellent Maclay's ales and provides comfortable, if dim, surroundings. Disco available next door (for a small fee!) Barstaff are often female and attractive. RGAM

The downstairs bar is also available for drinking during the week but the beer is unfortunately sub-standard (Bass Special I think). It is much quieter but lacks atmosphere. SLH

Nips of Brandy - Cowgate

Bric-a-brac unlimited. Beer UTS. Now renamed and redecorated as Sneeky Pete's. A terrible place now with DD. SLH

Niet! This pub is now Sneeky Pete's and has become a dive for synthetic entertainment freaks. V. loud JB and Dryburgh's, not even Guinness to be had. Sob! Avoid!! RGAM

Old Bell Inn

This pub, situated in Causewayside, is great for popping into after a hard days work - playing Startrek. Needles to say it is very studenty. Some nice birds go there - they tend to eye you up when their boyfriends get a bit pissed. It serves the usual S&N beers and is very busy at weekends. ACT

The Old Chain Pier - Granton

This pub is very esthetically positioned right on the waterfront at Granton. One can sit besides windows overlooking the Forth with a good view of Fife on a clear evening. There is a nice relaxed atmosphere although the beer is nothing special. A good place to visit on a warm summery evening. SLH

Paddys Bar - Lothian Road

Another of the Nicky Tams, Black Bull, Antiquary pubs and as such is mostly red inside. The beer is Belhaven which varies in quality from pint to pint. Clients are young and trendy with a few older people caught up in it all. Worth visiting despite all this. SLH

Penthouse - Tollcross

One of the numerous "trendy" type hangouts around town, with its fair share of underage kids. The beer is definately GGP and muchos expensive, (50 pesetas a pint if the memory serves) but it does have an excellent juke box AND (for the alkies) a late license most nights of the week Need to be in by 11pm though------shuts at about midnight. Good place to take your favourite female if you're going out late during the week and you want to get her pissed for some reason. Biggles

Regal Arms - Morrison Street

A rather scruffy looking pub from the outside, however, the inside is quite acceptable, not fantastic. Beer is S&N, no heavy. OK if you're in the area. SLH

Royal Circus Bar - Royal Circus

A Realy smart place. Done up like the inside of a circus Big Top. The idea probably came from the highly sucessful beer tent pitched in Princes Street Gardens in August each year. Someone knows how to make some money as this bar is very popular with the young and trendy set. Being open until one o'clock most evenings has perhaps something to do with this. Expensive but well worth a visit with the girl of your choice. It now appears that one must arrive fairly early to be assured of entry in this establishment ie before 2130. SLH

Royal Scot Hotel

Considering the 'class' of this hotel the decor of the downstairs bar can only be described as cheap, with photo-copies of old letters etc plastered all over the walls. They serve draught Guinness and (unfortunately) Lorimers GGP. Makes a nice change from the Maybury (qv). ACT

Guinness is good here. SLH

Sandy Bells - Forrest Road

Excellent pub. Open all day, serves superb McEwans 80/-. What more can one ask. Don't ask for orange juice; i tried that - once. Bit draughty as the doors are left open most of the time. Lots of SNP types. RGAM

Scotts - Rose Street

This pub is sometimes called "Ma Scotts" by the clientele. Can't think why. Quite a plastic little place really with dreadful beer, although the Belhaven is as usual palatable. Popular before rugby internationals. SLH

Sneeky Petes - Cowgate

Qv. Nips o'brandy. Alas no longer with us. RGAM

This pub recently done up seems to have lost a lot of its character. It now serves DD but has a reasonable JB. A quiet place during the week. Friendly barmaid (table cleaned three times during the space of two hours). SLH

Spiers - Ferry Road - Inverleith Row

A rather insignificant little pub with a fair cross-section of the age groups as customers. Beer served is the good old S&N. The atmosphere is a little noisy at weekends and a T.V. graces a shelf with a good view for the bar staff but little for any one else. Besides you can't hear the sound over the conversation any way. Pop in for a quiet pint if you're in the area. SLH

Serves McEwans lager, export and heavy. The beer tends to losen one's bowels when one has consumed sufficient quantities the previous evening. (Makes you shit and fart all next day.) ACT

Stewarts Bar

An excellent spot for an early evening Friday piss up. Well patronised by students esp. Edinburgh law. Beer is good, B'haven, McEwan's AND Younger's. Service a trifle on the slow side, but better if they get to know you. RGAM

Tap O'Lauriston

Nice boozers pub. Maclay's 60/- and 80/-. Crowded weekends, some punks from the art college. Comfortable darts in protected area. RGAM


Recently done up establishment serving Lorimers beers. NO real ale. Does lot of trade with young, good juke box. What else can one say? RGAM

What does the good juke box drink? AJM

The White Hart - Grassmarket

Although a Lorimers pub, the White Hart does a very good lunch for only 75p. This comprises soup and a choice of about three main courses with chips or boiled potatoes and veg. Good value. Guinness is the thing to drink if you are not fond of Lorimers. SLH

Glossary of Terms

GGPGassy Gnats Piss
HBPHard Bog paper
JBJuke Box
RAReal Ale
(not to be confused with RGAM = Real Gassy Ale Man)
UTSUp To Standard
S/NScottish and Newcastle brewers