After attending Tales of the Cocktail, I thought I was pretty up on cocktail bars in Edinburgh. It turns out there’s an undiscovered secret – and it’s REALLY good.
Nobody goes into a five star hotel to drink at the bar unless you’re a) staying in the hotel, or b) meeting someone there. They’re expensive and often a bit average in terms of experience.
Epicurean is different.
The G&V Hotel wanted to create the kind of bar you’d go to even if you weren’t staying at the hotel. They also wanted to encourage people visiting the Royal Mile to stay in the area during the evening instead of heading down to George Street.
If you walk through the front entrance of the hotel, towards the back of the reception area you’ll find a low lit bar which is separated from the reception with glass. Once inside, you’d be fooled into thinking you were just in a bar, and not inside a hotel at all.
Large booths featuring marble tables run down the centre with smaller tables to the right, and the eye catching bar to the right.
The cocktail menu takes inspiration from artists and changes seasonally. The current menu focuses particularly on colour, and if you look carefully, the hues of the cocktails reflect some of those used by Scottish artists.
The first page of the menu is my favourite, a selection of cocktails served with their own ‘paired’ food element. A nice way to start your evening or as a warm up for dinner, or just any time really. Who doesn’t love eating and drinking together? Each of the bites have been specially created to complement the cocktail – we chose the Miel Royale and Still Life.
Miel Royale is a gin cocktail featuring Tanqueray No. Ten, rooftop honey, spring garden tea, and champagne.
The G&V have their own bees which live on the roof of the hotel, which they recently won an eco award for. We love that the Queen Bee is called Beyonce!
The tea is also locally sourced from one of our favourite Edinburgh tea shops, Pekoe Tea.
Miel Royale is served with a chamomile sorbet cone! Impressive given that the whole thing was also homemade. The £9 price tag of these cocktails is justified for the work that goes into them.
The Still Life, made with Calvados, was accompanied by apple and sage crisps – one bowl wasn’t enough of these moreish morsels.
If light bites aren’t enough for you, Epicurean also does a short selection of tapas dishes. The lighting wasn’t ideal for food shots, but hopefully you can capture the general vibe – it’s a nice place to enjoy sharing food and cocktails with friends.
The cocktail menu is helpfully laid out in an order that creates a cocktail journey, working up to the heavier spirits like whisky. The second page is somewhere in between, our first choice was Near Milngavie made with Daffy’s Gin (one of my favourites) and Greek Basil which is grown indoors in the G&V Hotel in their EvoGro – this is an expensive piece of kit, and the only one in Europe, which allows them to grow a wide range of herbs indoors for cocktails and food garnishes. I got to taste some of the herbs and they really packed a punch. If you’re interested in this, pop in and take a look – it’s right beside the coffee bar on full view.
Our second choice was Fergusson’s Impression made with Saffron Infused Courvoisier Cognac and more of that delicious rooftop honey.
We rounded off our journey with The Glasgow School: a cocktail made with Auchentoshan Three Wood Malt Whisky and an Innis & Gunn foam, making it look just like a beer. Don’t be fooled by any of the ‘fun’ presentation you see in these images, the cocktails have real substance, it’s not just a gimmick. They are some of the best cocktails I’ve had anywhere, and Giordiano who took care of us during the evening had an extensive knowledge which impressed. If you’re into cocktails, I highly recommend a visit.
Our final choice was another whisky cocktail, the Epicurean Club. I never make a firm decision on liking or disliking foods or drinks anymore, I’ve seen how much my palate has changed already – anything is possible. Whisky is still ‘a work in progress’ for me, but this cocktail certainly inched me closer – made with Haig Club , pear, vanilla & lime calvados, and a chocolate fig – it was very drinkable and one I’d order again.
A great night, and one that I shall be looking to recreate in the very near future. Along with Heads and Tales and Panda & Sons, Epicurean is now one of my go to bars in Edinburgh.
Location: G&V Royal Mile Hotel, 1 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh, EH1 1AD
Price: Cocktails £9
Good for: Cocktails made with local ingredients