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.

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…

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.

BrewDog Edinburgh

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.

The City Café

19 Blair Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1QR

Complete with a large function room, The City Café and its friendly team offer beer, big portions and all round good vibes.

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…


44 West Crosscauseway, Edinburgh, EH8 9JP

Traditional pub, popular for its buffalo burgers, guest beers and live screenings of sporting events.

The Pear Tree House

34 West Nicolson Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9DD

The grande dame of the Southside drinking scene has been standing proud on the spot since 1749, and 2012 sees the thirtieth anniversary of its current incarnation. The Pear Tree’s justifiably famed selling point is the large walled beer garden…