If you know where to look, Aberdeen has a handful of lively, chic bars serving delicious and imaginative drinks. Here’s the Just For Culture guide to everything you need to know.
Best for Beginners: Amicus Apple
If you’re new to the cocktail scene (where have you been?), then Amicus Apple is the best place in Aberdeen to get acquainted with these fun and flavourful drinks.
While the menu offers a fairly decent list of beers, ciders, and wines, the cocktails are what make this bar stand out. Tantalising ingredients such as marmalade, green tea syrup, or blood orange liqueur are mixed with fruity flavours and topped with fun and inventive garnishes to make easy-to-drink cocktails. Rather than experimenting with complex drinks which people keep telling you are ‘an acquired taste’, Amicus Apple gives the people what they want: cocktails that look fun and taste good, simple as that.
The bar itself plays it safe with neutral but attractive décor, although the simple clean lines and coloured lights are saved from being boring by the bare brick walls behind the bar and the feature-wall covered in real moss. A favourite with students, couples, and after work drinkers, Amicus Apple is a great place to try out cocktails and just have a good time with friends.
Its cocktail menu changes seasonally, but is always a balance of the classics you’d expect, and some fun and quirky drinks that you’ll enjoy trying out. Unlike Amicus Apple, however, some of the cocktails at 99 are better left to those who are a bit more familiar with which spirits or flavour combinations they like. While cognac, port, whiskey and ‘home made winter Falernum’ sounds like an intriguing mix (the Smoking Bishop cocktail, currently on their winter menu), some of us soon realised that it’s not something you can gaily down while gossiping with your girlfriends like a Cosmopolitan.
99 is serious about its cocktails, and their daring concoctions may not all be to your taste. Don’t be put off though – swapping drinks and trying each other’s, because you just need to know what apricot and fig infused gin tastes like (found in the Pedro Paramo), is all part of the fun! Plus, even if you end up choosing one of the safer classics, this bar is still a favourite with the JFC gang. Decorated with dark wood, and furnished with an eclectic mismatch of armchairs, pouffes, and stools, the bar feels classy and chic, while still being cosy and comfortable. A winning combination in our eyes!
However, make your way past the opulent mirrors and large flatscreen showing extreme sports (an odd but not unwelcome choice), sit down on one of the black, studded leather sofas, and open a menu. All is forgiven.
Flip past the champagne list (we told you it was decadent) and take your time looking through the many, many cocktails available here. As well as the old favourites, Dusk offers twists on the classics, like an elderflower and Hendricks mojito. They also have a great selection of their own cocktails with something for everyone, no matter what kind of spirit or flavours you prefer. The bartender tells us that the Flirtini is considered their signature and most popular drink and we soon see why: a delicious, fruity mix of Chambord, strawberries, and raspberries, topped with Prosecco.
Once your eyes adjust, you can relax and take your time picking a yummy sounding drink from their long list. While the black leather and chandeliers make it a bit over the top for a first date, Dusk is a great place for a girls’ night out, or some late night drinks on the weekend.
Smartly decorated with solid, wooden booths, hanging lamps and a wood-panelled ceiling, it puts you in mind of an old speakeasy, using words like ‘dapper’, and ‘slick’. We seat ourselves at a table and a waitress comes across with a smile and a couple of glasses of water. The menu has an impressive list of whiskeys and some unusual but appetising snacks, which I make a mental note to come back and try some time – white crab mac ‘n’ cheese sounds a bit more interesting than the usual crisps and peanuts! But what we are really here for is the cocktails, and they look at least as good as the food.
My friend goes for the Bohemian Milk Punch, but I just can’t decide. When the waitress comes back though, it turns out that this isn’t a problem! When I ask for more time with the menu, she suggests that the bar can make something up for me if I tell them which spirit and flavours I like. I go for something fruity with gin, and she comes back ten minutes later with our drinks. And what drinks they are! The Milk Punch is sweet and creamy without being sickly, and my drink is just what I would have asked for if I’d known it existed.
Later, we order gin martinis which are a bit pricey, but expertly made, and who can put a price on perfection? As it gets a bit later, the bar starts to fill up and we’re glad we came early enough to grab one of the comfy booths. With a brilliant combination of a chic interior, delicious drinks and helpful staff, this bar has got to be one of our favourite places to drink in Aberdeen. Perfect for a casual drink with friends, a quick one after work, or a romantic date if you’re quick enough to get a seat!