Stopping Time

We meet the men behind forward thinking Edinburgh-based cocktail bar, Bramble Bar & Lounge
By Rob Allanson
A drink in Bramble almost feels like time standing still for a moment. Descending down into the white washed basement surroundings, you’re immediately consumed by the bar’s perfectly appointed mix of modern lighting and vintage furniture, soon forgetting the world outside.

Simple ideas are turned into sensational creations, such as the bar’s innovative take on the Coke Float and the Butter-Scotch Cocktail, using a butter-washed Adelphi Private Blend whisky and vanilla sugar.

A glance at the menu’s 20-or-so cocktails gives you an immediate understanding that this is a bar, which really likes to mix things up – in a highly playful manner.

“The atmosphere and the quality of the drinks are the two most important things to us,” points out Mike Aikman, Bramble’s manager and co-owner, who along with his business partner Jason Scott have been winning many plaudits from the bartending community for the past several years, with their recipes.

“When we opened in 2006,” explains Mike, “there wasn’t anywhere in Edinburgh where we felt we could go and have a really good drink in a great environment. At the time there were bars trying to do cocktails but you were very much at the mercy of who was on a certain shift and you couldn’t be guaranteed to get a good drink.”

For Mike, being ahead of the pack is also crucial, which includes developing the house ingredients, such as homemade syrups and infusions and using whisky in a number of innovative ways.

“We try to be totally fresh and do the opposite of most other bars,” Mike explains.

One recent example of the bar’s forward thinking has been to team up with Glenmorangie to create an intriguing barrel-aged whisky cocktail called ‘Affinity’.

“We approached Glenmorangie about doing something different with a cocktail” points out Mike “and they made us four, custom five-litre casks, each with a different level of char to allow for experimentation.” The cocktail (including Glenmorangie ten year-old and two, differently flavoured dry vermouths) was aged for six weeks and comes served in wax-dipped bottles with a frozen glass and garnish. Already proving to be a huge success the first batch has quickly sold out and it’s the sort of thing that puts Mike and Jason at the forefront of mixology, demonstrating their understanding of how to introduce whisky to a brand new audience.

As well as pushing the boundaries in the whisky cocktail world, Mike and his team are also maturing a number of casks
“including a real peaty treat!” which will be bottled imminently. But it is the attention to detail in helping to make a customer’s night out a unique experience that Mike is most proud of. “The atmosphere at Bramble comes from the music and service of our staff,” he points out. “But the consistency of the drinks is the most important thing for us.

“If you order a drink at 5pm on a Monday, or if you order one when it is absolutely rammed at 10pm on a Saturday night, it should always be the same- same glass, garnish etc.

“There’s no cutting corners at all and we won’t change our principles for anything.”

Long may Bramble’s fresh and forward-thinking approach continue to bear fruit.


Bramble Bar & Lounge
16A Queen Street, Edinburgh EH2 1JE
Tel: 0131 226 6343

Currently drinking:
“We’re really enjoying Compass Box Great King Street” explains Mike and we also have a great new cocktail on the menu, using Black Bottle.”