My Favourite Aberdeen Cocktail Bars
By Sian Ferguson – Bartender Extraodinaire
Aberdeen has a really great social scene. In the past few years there’s been a fantastic amount of new bars, hotels and restaurants opening around the city. The most popular additions have included speciality bars with craft beer and whisky making big leaps! However, the biggest change in the city in the past 10 years is the introduction of some really great cocktail bars. Some of Aberdeen’s bartenders have gone onto other cities to continue their success whilst others still in the city keep up the high standard of service as well as win local, regional and even national cocktail competitions! My favourite cocktail bars around the city have been around for various numbers of years, but each brings something excellent to the city and I’d be quite happy to spend all night in each particular bar but spending a bit of time in each bar is my favourite way to go!
One of my first ports of call is usually 99 Bar and Kitchen. It’s one of the only cocktail bars in town to open from 11am. They serve some really good food during the day, which can then lead to a couple of cheeky afternoon beverages. 99 has lots of nice little booth areas, each table is candle lit and upstairs has a great, vintage feel to it – a fabulous place to catch up with friends during the day or early evening. Friendly staff members shake up drinks from their fun menus but are just as happy to whip up a classic or even make up your own concoction depending on tastes. 99 has a lot going on in its evenings. On a Friday and Saturday you get DJs playing decks – some of which are the best known in the city. On a Sunday evening they have a prohibition style night with an amazing live jazz/funk band playing whilst you drink old school classics like Manhattans, Bee’s Knees or an Old Fashioned. My favourite night has got to be a Tuesday where the whole bar fills with tiki paraphernalia. In house acoustic guitar player Blair leads the way with his excellent tunes whilst drinks are served with fire, fun and frolics. If you’re lucky you may even catch a night where the Gay Gordon’s happens! It’s so much fun.
Secondly, we have The Tippling House – one of the newer bars in town – opened by the guys behind bar consultancy 10 Dollar Shake. The bar has very quickly established itself within the city with its dim, mood lighting and well stocked bar with some weird and wonderful liquors, as well seasonal cocktail menus. It is a favourite for small groups, couples or a bite of dinner with the family. Food – provided by other local faves ‘Beetroot Group’ is – excellent and available until 1am during the week or 2am at weekends – the tacos are a personal favourite! One of the other things we love about the Tippling House is that each season they make a cocktail of which a percentage of the sales go to their charity of choice. Having a ‘nightclub’ license means that this wee gem is open later than normal bars. With its unobtrusive music and lovely surroundings, it’s a late night favourite. The guys have also just opened Bos’n – a tequila/ rum based bar with a tiki, up cycled feel to it. The bar is upstairs and downstairs will be a bar/restaurant called Rye & Soda. I can’t wait to see what they’ve done with the place!!
Next stop is Orchid – another bar in town with a late night license. Orchid is around 4 years old now and has made a big splash around the city with slick looking ‘tenders shake, stir and swizzle their way around the black and pink styled bar. Their menu is an eclectic mix of ‘Ladies favourites’ such as the ever popular Pink Orchid, ‘Savoury cocktails’ and even a ‘What our bartenders are drinking’ section. Their varied menus change seasonally with the favourites staying on and you should be able to find something for everyone. Like the menu, the music appeals to a wide audience – DJs every Friday and Saturday and live jazz music on the last Sunday of each month. Orchid is a great place for a quiet drink during the week and a much busier, more party atmosphere at a weekend but no matter how busy they seem to be, their bartenders are always happy to ‘talk shop’. One of their boys has recently won a national competition to go to Colombia to learn about rum production and cocktail and lifestyle culture – it’s always great to learn from bartenders with this kind of experience and passion.
Last stop would be Dusk – a bit of an ‘old-timer’ on the Aberdeen scene. Dusk – as you would imagine is another of Aberdeen’s late night bars – opening at 5pm every day and open ‘til 2am during the week and 3am at weekends. The bar itself is quite sumptuous; filled with chandeliers, heavy red curtains and dark walls with dim lighting. Their cocktail menu is in sections under the main alcohol involved in the cocktail itself – their signature cocktail for years has been their Raspberry Flirtini! During the weekends, the bar is always busy with people drinking one of their varieties of cocktail whilst listening to their DJs and watching their staff do their thing. However, during the week (Sunday to Tuesday) you will find people drink rum… lots of rum! Dusk do £1 Havana Club and Mixer and you will see that Aberdeen (especially it’s bartending community) love a rum style bargain. Dusk’s staff are some of the most fun, lovely people you’ll meet and all of these things mean it’s a great place to stop off for a beverage. Overall, Aberdeen is a great night out and is full of fab ‘tenders, great drinks and some fabulous bars. Take your time, find your own wee gem and trust the guys behind the bar – I bet they’ll make you something amazing!!