A few years ago, the buzz surrounding speakeasy-style bars peaked as twirly-moustachioed mixologists cashed in on the novelty of hiding in plain sight.

These days, the hardcore ‘if you know, you know’ venues are less common, with many choosing to instead accept a limited number of bookings, eschew social media and focus on great quality cocktails to earn the title of 'hidden gem'.

Whatever level of mystery you’re after, here’s our pick of basement bars and speakeasy set ups to discover across Scotland.


2-4 Hope Street, Edinburgh

There’s a heavy dose of Parisian glamour to be found at one of Edinburgh’s newest speak-easy bars, with interiors and menus inspired by France during the 1920s.

Located beneath the West End Brasserie, visitors are encouraged to make their way through a set of retro cinema doors in search of a red button that marks a ‘secret entrance’.

Panda & Sons

79 Queen Street, Edinburgh

If you’re in search of a quirky night out in the capital, how about a hidden bar with a faux-barber shop exterior that's overseen by an elusive ‘family of pandas’?

It’s a lot to process, we know, but the speakeasy-style spot is far from just a gimmick, with its Cocktail Panda, aka owner Iain Mcpherson, experimenting with innovative techniques that secured them a number 39 spot on a list of the World’s 50 Best Bars in 2023.

A helpful member of the Panda family said of locating the venue: “If you find a Barbershop with some foreign currency you have made it to the Libation Destination”.

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The Absent Ear

Brunswick Street, Glasgow

It’s perhaps one of Glasgow’s worst-kept secrets, but after almost three years in the city centre, the Absent Ear is still keeping customers guessing with a ‘delightfully disorientating, speakeasy concept bar’ that pays homage to the late Vincent Van Gogh.

The multi-award-winning basement venue made the UK’s Top 50 Cocktail Bars list last year, coming in at an impressive number 25.


Couttie’s Wynd, Dundee

It’s not the easiest to find, but once inside Draffens in Dundee city centre offers the full 1920s speakeasy experience with nods to the former department store that shared its name.

Described by one visitor as ‘very Peaky Blinders’, step back in time as you order from a list of cocktails crafted by a team of expert bartenders who help to curate a vintage theme.

The Tippling House

4 Belmont Street, Aberdeen

First established in 2012, this late-night ‘cocktail den’ also specialises in small plates and bar bites with an extensive whisky and wine offering.

The cellar space boasts spacious booths, tweed furnishings and a relaxed vibe that feels far away from the hubbub of its street-level entrance.

The Flying Duck

8 Renfrew Court, Glasgow

“Once you navigate our alley and make it down the stairs unscathed, you’ll find yourself in one of the cosiest bars in Glasgow,” the Flying Duck Team promises of its newly revamped space.

Named as a tribute to the city’s former ‘music mecca’, the Apollo Theatre, the underground dive bar on Renfield Street carries on a legacy of hosting live acts while slinging a decent drinks menu too.

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Never Really Here

Rose Street, Edinburgh

Despite having over 8000 followers on Instagram, the team behind Never Really Here likes to maintain as low a profile as possible, with space for just seven tables at their cash-only lounge in the ‘shadows of Rose Street’.

A permanently locked door requires a knock for entry, but once inside a selection of bespoke ‘booze forward’ cocktails awaits.

The Gate

251 Gallowgate, Glasgow

You would think that any bar with a luminous yellow door would naturally stand out from its surroundings.

And yet, it would be easy to walk by one of Glasgow’s best bars.

Not a speakeasy in the traditional sense, The Gate earns its place on our list thanks to an intimate atmosphere that almost feels like stopping by a friend's house, despite being located directly opposite the world-famous Barrowland Ballroom.

Be sure to order from their cheese toastie menu while you're there.

Hoot the Redeemer

7 – 11 Hanover Street Edinburgh

From the same team behind Panda & Sons is a second, equally as whacky concept bar in Edinburgh.

At Hoot the Redeemer there’s a 1950s funfair aesthetic, complete with a vintage claw-crane machine and ice cream parlour in an underground space that’s accessed by, you guessed it, a ‘secret door’.

READ MORE: Our pick of family-friendly Glasgow restaurants with kids' menus to suit every taste


239 North Street, Glasgow

Another Glasgow venue that gives little away from its exterior, with no signage to indicate that you’ve arrived at the right place.

That’s made it no less popular over the years, and you’ll often find the candlelit bar packed with cocktail drinkers and small-plate seekers.

An extra surprise for any new visitor will be a huge split-level beer garden which becomes an unrivalled urban sun trap in the warmer months.