Glasgow’s best cocktail bars – and what to order when you get there


jump to the bar Having a drink with friends is always great fun, but going to the same pub down the street week after week can get a bit tiring.

So why not shake up your nightlife a bit and try a cocktail? Friday, May 13 marks World Cocktail Day and Glasgow is packed with tantalizing bars and surprising drink lists served straight up or with a twist.

Connect from your local trough and settle into one of the best bars in town for a long fruity margarita or inject adrenaline into your evening with an espresso martini.

From a Van Gogh-inspired speakeasy to Glasgow’s first Caribbean rum joint, these cocktail bars are guaranteed to keep you entertained for the night.

The old toll

The old toll

From the outside, it looks like a traditional old men’s pub – but southern connoisseurs know there’s more to the inside of the Old Toll Bar.

Kinning Park Pub serves craft beers, premium spirits and candlelit cocktails.

A historic Glasgow boozer stripped of its Victorian grandeur – it stands to reason that some of the city’s oldest cocktail recipes can be found at the Old Toll Bar.

The Finnieston

Fish is the name of the game at Finnieston – but their delicious drinks have always been a hit. Housed inside a small blue building right in the center of Finnieston’s Strip, this seafood bar and restaurant is a must-visit whether you’re a pescatarian pilgrim or not.

The cocktails, like the red leather banquettes, are trad-transatlantic. Gin cocktails are their specialty, with over 60 brands of gin on the shelves, and the bartenders know how to hit the bittersweet note of a great Manhattan, too.

Tobacco on Mitchell Lane


If you’re a fan of classic cocktails, this hidden bar and restaurant on a side street in Glasgow city center is the place for you.

Take a seat under the watchful eyes of the bar’s wacky abstract art and get ready for a wild show. This spot has long been the benchmark for eclectic bars downtown, with a huge selection of cocktails, including margaritas, that you’d be hard-pressed to beat in Mexico.

CBD cocktails are a budding trend in Glasgow thanks to The Grow Room
CBD cocktails are a budding trend in Glasgow thanks to The Grow Room

The culture room

Glasgow is hidden CBD Cocktail bar recently relaunched in April for the 4/20 celebration – so it had to be high on our list.

Tucked away in an old fire escape at the previously mentioned Tabac, The Grow Room leads the way through food and to drink scene with a whole new cocktail menu and slamming tunes all weekend long.

The first in Scotland CBD cocktail joint rolled up in the Mitchell Lane bar in January 2020 and the new menu for the exciting relaunch was created by Lynsey Cameron of Tabac. We’ll drink to that!

Members of the public enjoy their first drink at a beer garden at SWG3 on July 06, 2020 in Glasgow, Scotland.  Beer gardens across Scotland are allowed to reopen today as coronavirus lockdown restrictions are further eased in the country

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Banana Moon

Now that we have it, how the West End survived without Banana Moon for so long is a mystery. There have always been drinking places, ramshackle pubs and fine restaurants on this side of town, but it lacked a laid-back cocktail bar. To make up for lost time, Banana Moon is the perfect place to relax with friends, listen to vinyl records and have an offbeat cocktail.

Banana Moon is also the official home of the world’s first alcoholic oat milk drink – who wouldn’t want to ask for a Panther Milk? Cool name, cool drink. It’s quite easy to have one too many, so be careful. These panthers can be deadly.

Sharp but light, the Old Fashioned cocktail is the real star of the Kelvingrove Cafe menu

Kelvingrove Cafe

With its gleaming mahogany walls and plump leather booths, the Kelvingrove Cafe is very hip. A true hub of Glasgow’s independent bar scene, the cocktail bar and restaurant defines Finnieston’s independent spirit, hidden in plain sight behind vintage signage like a legal speakeasy.

Spirits fans can sit in front of a marvelous wall of twinkling fairy lights, world liquors and vintage bitters while sipping. A true Glasgow institution. – and their Old Fashioned always hits the mark.

Rumshack Glasgow

Rum shack

Established in 2015 on Pollokshaws Road, Rum Shack is Glasgow’s first Caribbean bar and serves over 100 rums from around the world.

This bustling south-side joint offers some of the best cocktails in town and there’s even a club below for those ready for a rum night on the tiles.

Outside in the summer they also have a beer garden – which has cheery yellow seating, fairy lights, and lounge chairs. Sure, you might not get the brilliant blue seas and dazzling white sands alongside your cocktails, but a sip of their signature rum drinks should momentarily whisk you away to sunnier climes.

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blue dog

Located a stone’s throw from Slug and Lettuce on West George Street, if you plan to bar-hop, check out this laid-back den.

It’s cozy, dimly lit, and offers live music and cocktails until the early hours. A mainstay of Glasgow’s thriving live music scene for almost 20 years, we recommend paying them a visit and ordering Pablo Escobar’s Turkish Delight, a gin cocktail served with blood orange liqueur, raspberry, bitter rhubarb and fresh lemon.

The spiritualist

This elegant restaurant and bar boasts a truly elegant setting – think marble tables, rattan chairs and lots of greenery.

Enjoy some serious people watching as you indulge in surprising cocktails such as Cocktail in the Rocks – a classic drink poured into a scoop of ice, which requires a small mallet to open.


Venture down a street in Charing Cross to discover this hidden oasis of al fresco dining and drinking.

Step inside the small sage green building and take a seat at their bar or head to their patio in the summer.,

The outdoor spot is decked out with stylish tables and chairs and set with potted plants and climbing greenery. Try a New York Sour White or enjoy an Old Fashioned Rum topped with orange – both make the perfect summer drink.

Bar Gandolfi, upstairs from Café Gandolfi in the Merchant City

Cafe Gandolfi

A bar that opened in 1979 might not be the first place you might think of for a modern, sophisticated drink. But the cocktail menu at this café-bistro, located in the heart of the Merchant City, is as contemporary as any downtown bar.

Take a seat at the bar – the counter is a custom-made pewter beauty – and enjoy the signature martini, made with Sipsmith gin and served with a sprinkle of ginger.

The Absent Ear has been named one of the best cocktail bars in the UK.
The Absent Ear has been named one of the best cocktail bars in the UK.

missing ear

This upscale Glasgow bar – all dimmed lights and sumptuous velvet – has been voted the UK’s best cocktail bar thanks to a deftly executed mix of classic and modern drinks. Try the “soup of the day”, a carrot and cilantro Mary, including carrot, cilantro, galangal, sherry amontillado, MSG, tamari, your spirit of choice and “about 50 other delicious dishes”.

Housed in a top-secret basement, customers are only given the address of the tavern upon booking. Described as “a hedonistic hideaway from your wildest dreams”, much of The Absent Ear remains shrouded in mystery – but you’ll know when you’re in the right place when you come face to face with a portrait of artist Van Gogh, who served as the inspiration for this secret watering hole.


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