I’m a big fan of cocktails (who isn’t?) and I’ve tried just about every cocktail bar in Edinburgh. But one I had never been to before was the Epicurean. It’s part of the G&V Royal Mile Hotel (which I have been to lots of times for different events) so it’s in the perfect central location in the Old Town.
The Epicurean team recently invited me along to sample their menu, and it was perfect timing. It was my birthday a couple of weeks ago, so I headed along for some late afternoon celebratory cocktails last Saturday before my birthday dinner.
Cocktails at the Epicurean
We started our afternoon in the aperitifs sections of the menu. I chose the Miel Royale and Owen went for the Dragoncello. Both came served with an intriguing little edible accompaniment – a mini ice cream cone and a scoop of sorbet.
The Miel Royale was a refreshing mix of Tanqueray No. Ten, rhubarb, spring garden tea, champagne and honey, which comes from the hotel’s own rooftop beehives. We even got to see a section of the honeycomb and taste the fresh honey – delicious! I also stole a little sip of the Dragoncello and I had slight cocktail envy. I loved the fruity concoction of RinQuinQuin peach wine, Aperol, tarragon and orange sorbet, and I’ll definitely be ordering this next time I’m at the Epicurean.
Epicurean’s cocktail menu is inspired by the Scottish Colourists, a group of post-impressionist painters who drew on the strong and vibrant colours of contemporary French painting in the early 20th century. So, on the menu you’ll find cocktails with punchy flavours and beautiful colours, with plenty of Mediterranean ingredients and a little Scottish twist.
We left the rest of our cocktail decisions up to our waitress, who expertly picked out a few that she thought we would like. I was particularly a fan of the Hunter’s Rose (with Holy Grass vodka, Lillet Blanc, rose and hibiscus syrup, lemon and champagne) and the blueberry, lavender, violet and lemon Lavender Fields, which is actually a non-alcoholic cocktail which can be spiced up with rum on request.
The cocktails are quite pricey at around £9 each, but you can tell a lot of care and expertise has gone into making them. I love that the Epicurean use homegrown ingredients in their cocktails too, such as G&V’s own honey and freshly grown micro herbs.
Bar Bites at the Epicurean
The G&V also has a restaurant within the hotel, Cucina, which serves Italian style food. If you don’t fancy having a formal meal in the restaurant, you can also enjoy some more casual snacks, bar bites and meals within Epicurean itself. As we were going out for dinner later, we didn’t want to fill ourselves up too much – so opted for a few tapas style small dishes to share.
Again, the menu is full of Mediterranean influences which compliments the cocktails perfectly. We tucked into an antipasti meat platter, fresh bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar for dipping, calamari salad and spicy roast potatoes. The potatoes were definitely the star of the show for me – I have forgotten exactly what was in them, but they were spicy, tomatoey, olivey and perfectly crispy.
This is the perfect sort of cocktail bar food, tasty enough to keep the hunger pangs at bay, but not too filling so you end up not having time to enjoy your cocktails. The food menu is also on the more expensive side, but that’s to be expected when you’re dining in a sophisticated, luxurious hotel.
Worth a Visit?
With its dark, atmospheric interiors, stylish marble tables and expertly mixed drinks, the Epicurean is certainly worth a visit if you’re looking for somewhere that has both style and substance. I often worry that boutique hotel bars are going to look really nice, but will be let down by their actual menu. But that’s not the case at the Epicurean.
The staff were all friendly and attentive, happy to make recommendations and talk through the menu. It’s clear that the mixologists know what they’re doing and are adept at whipping up delicious, unusual cocktails.
I’d say the Epicurean is the sort of place you’d go for celebratory drinks, rather than just a casual occasion – mainly due to the fact that it is that wee bit pricier than other cocktail bars in Edinburgh. But having said that, it’s not the sort of place where you feel like you have to get dressed up. The atmosphere is very relaxed, so you definitely could pop in for a casual drink if you wanted to.
Have you been to the Epicurean yet?