Bar crawls: Edinburgh - The Prudent Student

Barcrawls: The prudent student, Edinburgh

A cheap and cheerful crawl from Marchmont to Grassmarket

I have a confession to make. I’ve never really been much of a bar crawl sort of gal. The idea of systematic drinking (vb. to lash, I suppose) with a bunch of overgrown rugby boys, with their girlfriend’s underwear on as outer wear, has never really appealed. But, you know what? Who says that’s how a student bar crawl has to be?

We began, standardly dressed, at the (1) Earl of Marchmont (22 Marchmont Crescent). Not wanting to endure a night of endless card charges, I smugly made use of Scotmid’s ATM opposite (top tip: get cash now) and hurried in from the drizzle to the twinkling lights of the Earl’s interior and a glass of merlot for £3.30.

Braving the weather we crossed the Meadows; a journey which, on a drier, brighter evening, would be nicely interrupted with a cider on the grass (which Scotmid can provide), if it’s not too illegal. Maybe just make sure you hide the evidence and recycle using the bins provided.

Next we hit (2) Greenmantle (44 West Crosscauseway), which, despite a few sultry characters, is an old man pub surprisingly dedicated to students; so much so that the ‘haste ye back’ sign above the door utterly convinces me that I should. Drinks are delightfully cheap; vodka is £2.00 and students can buy a bottle of wine for £7.50.

We pass through the (3) Pear Tree (34 West Nicolson Street) where we drink Kopparberg and huddle in the warmth on the plush leather sofas, and then (4) Brass Monkey (14 Drummond Street), where you can choose from a new selection of 19 different kinds of rum. I go for a Mount Gay Extra Old and Coke for £2.80 and take a time out on the cushions in the cinema room at the back.

Towards South Bridge we turn onto Blair Street. Heading to (5) The City Café (9 Blair Street) at this point is a must. The grease lightning-era diner has decks up on the bar and is filled with soulful funk and 80s house (as it is every Friday and Saturday) with diva vocals swirling through the murmuring crowd. A few shoulders are shifting. I hang my coat up to dry on the stand at the end of our booth and perk up. Stella Artois is £2.50 all week and there are other good deals Mon-Thu. After a silly attempt at a game of pool we follow the hill down, where ominous echoes sound from Cowgate below. I feel like things could get kinda’ heavy.

We tasted some ‘hardcore’ beer from self-proclaimed ‘punks’ of brewing, (6) BrewDog (143-145 Cowgate). Unfortunately we don’t have time to appreciate the subtleties of flavour in even several of the variants. So on to (7) Bar Salsa (3 Cowgatehead) it is, where shots are ridiculously cheap and the crowd as a whole sways en masse.

After that it’s a bit of a blur. But ending up in the Grassmarket means that you can happily dance your way to sobriety in a nearby club. Or just go home, picking up a Pot Noodle from Scotmid on the way.

A Bar Salsa
3 Cowgatehead, Edinburgh, EH1 1JY
Probably the cheapest drinks in town. Right in the centre of everything on Grassmarket at the bottom of Victoria Street. Popular with students and locals alike. Always jumping in the evenings. Great pre-club venue near loads of nightclubs. Open til 1am…
B Earl of Marchmont
22 Marchmont Crescent, Edinburgh, EH9 1HG
Much like its Canongate sister the White Horse, the Earl is a grand mixture of classic Edinburgh local and funked-up eclectic touches. The crowd is a hotch-potch of students, cheery thirty-somethings and a clutch of venerable regulars decorating the…
C BrewDog Edinburgh Cowgate
143–145 Cowgate, Edinburgh, EH1 1JS
As well as serving their own experimental beer range, Edinburgh’s BrewDog have sniffed out some of world’s most interesting brews.
D The City Café
19 Blair Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1QR
American-style bar and diner with a pool table, good quality burgers and one of the city's best pre-club atmospheres.
E The Brass Monkey
14 Drummond Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9TU
Student-crowded watering hole decorated with movie posters, popular for board games and daily film screenings.
F The Pear Tree House
38 West Nicolson Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9DD
Newly refurbished pub and restaurant in the heart of studentland, with one of the most famous beer gardens in Edinburgh.
G Greenmantle
44 West Crosscauseway, Edinburgh, EH8 9JP
Traditional pub, popular for burgers, guest beers and live screenings of sporting events.