1073 Cocktails and 238 Bars now listed
Under the Stairs is a basement bar/restaurant situated in the old town of Edinburgh with a shabby chic interior of old retro furniture. Our clientele range from students to professionals & everything in between, we do our best to cater for everyone. The best way to find out what Under the Stairs is like is to come down and try it out!
Tucked away down a set of winding steps just off the Grassmarket, at first glance Under the Stairs might seem more of a blindspot than a cocktail hotspot. The well-camouflaged location certainly didn’t do any favours for the space’s erstwhile occupant, the lovely but always echoingly-empty Chai tea house. Happily those tumbleweeds now belong to a distant past – Under the Stairs is a bustling bolthole well worth stopping by for a drink after a day of pounding the cobbles in Edinburgh’s Old Town.
Playing on the theme of its snug basement location, the bar’s look is a study in cosiness by way of gran’s living room, albeit with younger clientele. It’s a refreshing departure from George Street’s glossy bars, with flickering candles, mismatched armchairs and nooks and crannies crammed with a fun hotchpotch of retro accessories – we were seated, for example, next to a collection of vintage sewing machines topped with a stuffed dove.
The drinks menu itself is a little less retrospective, with a considered, inventive collection of long and short cocktails. Our helpful waitress pointed out some of her personal favourites and explained that the menu was changed every few weeks to incorporate seasonal ingredients into the drinks – a really impressive touch. Sadly, my first choice of the Green Tea Cooler wasn’t available so I plumped for lemon, vanilla and elderflower concoction Mellow Yellow. It was like boozy homemade lemonade – lip-smackingly tart and crisp with just the right hit of sugar.
Gallantly offering his reviewing services for the evening my friend Chris went for the cocktail litmus test– the classic Mojito. He pronounced it enjoyable enough, but a little watery and lacking in that crucial citrus punch. He fared much better, however, with his second choice the Maple Manhattan. It was a smooth, smoky-whiskey lover’s dream. I didn’t do so well with my Mango Daiquiri, which I found a bit gloopy and sickly, but given my general preference for sourer drinks it maybe wasn’t the wisest choice.
We didn’t partake in any bar snacks over the evening but there’s a nice list of unusual light bites available – warm pitta with a trio of dips, brioche topped with brie and parma ham, and chicken and chorizo quesadilla all caught my eye as delicious ways to soak up the booze after an overenthusiastic cocktail-tasting session. Alternatively you can go for full-sized meals, including a tasty roast dinner on a Sunday (surprisingly hard to come by in Edinburgh).
With a laidback but still energetic vibe, friendly staff that are happy to let you linger over your drinks and a warm and welcoming atmosphere, Under the Stairs is a quirky gem not to be missed. Yes, their classic cocktail offerings may need a little tweaking, but from décor to drinks Under the Stairs pulls off kitsch with aplomb. A pub with a dash of flash – highly recommended!
Jane Sommerville from Jane Eats Edinburgh