There are so many fantastic bars in the centre of Glasgow, some of them more fantastic than others, and some really overrated ones! For some, it’s all about the décor (or, as Glaswegians say, ‘a bar for poseurs’), whilst for others, it’s all about the product, whether they offer hundreds of gins, whiskies, or other great spirits. Some venues have a story to tell, and in some you just need to sit at the bar and absorb the whole ‘Glasgow experience’. So how to choose?? I have listed four bars (in no particular order) with a little bit of both – perfect for cocktails or a G&T but with that little bit more character and style than other Glasgow city-centre bars.
1 The Spiritualist
The Spiritualist, located in the heart of the buzzing Merchant City, only opened last year. It is a mix between a restaurant and a cocktail bar, but you do not need to eat to enjoy their fine drinks menu. They have an amazing collection of spirits, around 320 bottles of gin, vodka, rum, whisky, tequila, mezcal, and much more. I love sitting at the bar scanning through the list whilst chatting with the well-dressed and knowledgeable staff. They make great recommendations and can tell you a lot about the products, always one of the fundamental requirements of a great bar for me.
The Spiritualist is also a great place to go on a date. They have a live piano and vocalist every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The venue is fancy, yet not over the top, so you can be a bit of a poseur here. But that’s all right – dress up and go enjoy amazing cocktails in great company.
2 The Corinthian
In terms of architecture and that ‘wow’ factor, this is a bar not to miss when you are in Glasgow. Although it could do with a bit of improvement in its product range, the building is absolutely stunning: an old bank with high ceilings, grand chandeliers and beautiful carvings on the walls. Also having a casino, it scores highly for the poseurs, but I mainly just go for a pre- or after-dinner cocktail or a glass of champagne, and to admire the building itself.
The bar has much more potential and needs a bit more thought… For such a stunning venue in Scotland you would expect more Scottish spirits and better-quality ingredients (they use Britvic for G&Ts, for example!!!). But that said, it is still worth a visit, just choose a cocktail instead of G&T! The cocktails are reasonably priced, starting from £6.95, and the staff are friendly (although they could be a bit more knowledgeable about their slightly limited product range).
3 Gin71 (Renfield St)
There are two Gin71s in Glasgow, so make sure you go to the one in Renfield Street, as again the building is beautiful!! It can get busy and sometimes you might have to suck it up and queue for 10–15 minutes, but in my opinion, it is worth the wait. As per the name, Gin71 is mainly a gin bar, but they have lovely cocktails and some other spirits available. I had a very good classic Negroni there, as well as White Negroni.
The venue was originally thought not to be that special, but when workers started to remove plasterboards during a refurbishment, they discovered beautiful pristine tiling behind the old boring walls. The Council then had a look at the space and decided that the original tiling needed to be preserved and kept in its original glory. What a magnificent space they now have!
Their gin menu is very informative; you can read more about their garnishes, and to help you decide the menu is divided into Scottish Gins, Floral & Fruity, Spicy Gins, Modern Classics, Savoury Gins, Citrus Gins, Aged Gins etc.… And if you can’t make up your mind you can choose a gin flight. Each includes a trio of drinks chosen carefully to showcase the differences, allowing you to compare the ﬂavours. Their gin menu is updated regularly to keep up with the ever-expanding gin market. They have table service so you can just sit back, relax and enjoy the building. Gin tastings can also be pre-booked online. The staff are very knowledgeable and the product range is excellent.
Rogano, one of the oldest restaurants in Glasgow, is a great choice of venue for anyone wanting to travel back in time. Rogano is a restaurant and cocktail bar where you can still admire the classic art-deco style and décor. Some refurb has been done over the years, but everything has been kept in line with the original style since its opening in 1935!
They make great classic cocktails such as Manhattans, Martinis, Daiquiris and Old Fashioneds as well as more modern options. If you don’t want to eat or only want a snack you can get a seat at the Oyster Bar, where they have separate bar menu. Enjoy some oysters or other smaller portions with your gin martini and breathe in the 1930s’ ambiance. See my previous post about Rogano for more history and details about this wonderful venue, cherished by Glaswegians and visitors alike.
Whether you want to learn more about the most recent Scottish spirits or you are looking for a stunning venue to take your date out for something special, these are definitely worth the hype. Glasgow’s rich architectural heritage from the Victorian and other historical periods includes many stunning buildings beautifully restored and recycled as museums, shops, restaurants and bars. Why not admire these with a cocktail in your hand!?
I have started with only four but would love to hear your recommendations! What is your favourite Glasgow city-centre/Merchant City bar? Or have you been to any of these four before? What did you think?
The Spiritualist, 62 Miller Street, Merchant City, Glasgow, G1 1DT
The Corinthian, 191 Ingram Street, Merchant City, Glasgow City Centre, G1 1DA
Gin 71, 71 Renfield Street, Glasgow, G2 1LP
Rogano, 11 Exchange Place, Glasgow, G1 3AN