(Last Updated On: 22nd September 2021)

 

The Devil’s Advocate is in my favourite type of location; hidden down an alley. I don’t know if it’s because I’m from Melbourne and that’s where all the good things are in that city, or if I’m just a sucker for thinking I know a secret. Either way, this bar got points from me before I’d even found it.

So, just off The Royal Mile in Advocate’s Close, The Devil’s Advocate not only has the coolest business pun-name I’ve come across in a while, it also has friendly staff, a dark, cosy interior and an industrial, 19th century feel. Oh, and I suppose I should also mention – there’s also around 200 different whisky’s to try!

If your tastes are similar to mine and grungy/alternative is more your style, you might at first think The Devil’s Advocate is not for you. I mean its main draw is whisky, and whisky’s a bit grown up isn’t it, a bit middle aged man reclining on a Chesterfield sofa in the clubhouse? Well yes, The Devil’s Advocate is a tad sophisticated, but don’t be scared, there’s plenty of cool, down to earth and yummy reasons to visit too.

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A big part of the ‘cool’ begins before you even get there because The Devil’s Advocate is founds down this medieval little alley.
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Sigh… here’s the amazing view as you enter Advocate’s Close. Seriously Edinburgh, you kill me.
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There’s no signage for The Devil’s Advocate except for an A-frame outside on the footpath. But if you see guys in tan aprons like this, you know you’re close.
outside dusk
Celebrating only its first birthday as The Devil’s Advocate in November, the building itself is an old Pump House – the place where waste water would be collected and then sent off to treatment centers.
outside night
Enormous windows no doubt entice passersby. There’s nothing like a bit of darkness and candle light to draw people in.

Despite the building’s unglamourous past, the decor inside is very stylish.

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The super high ceilings allow for a small mezzanine level where meals are served.
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There’s exposed-stone, brick, wood and industrial style touches throughout.
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The view from the mezzanine. And look, they have at least one beardy hipster behind the bar. It’s bar law don’t you know?
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Home made bitters and other flavour enhancers.

But debunking my own stereotype that only fuddy-duddy middle aged men drink whisky, my companion on my first visit here was a whisky loving, early 30’s Brazilian. Knowing which region of Scotland he liked his brown stuff from, the lengthy menu was not a problem for him. For the rest of us, there’s not only Scottish whisky to get your head around, but whiskey from all over the world. Oi vey. I on the other hand needed help with the cocktail menu and tested my poor waitress’s knowledge (and patience) by lengthily quizzing her. She was very helpful, but just like the bar’s decor, the cocktail menu is rather grown up. I was probably pushing myself to my palette’s limits with my choices, so I only enjoyed one out of three. You can of course go off menu and order something less challenging, or better yet, tell the bartenders what you like and let them create something for you.

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The cocktail and whisky/whiskey menu. It’s more a novella than a menu really.
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The whisky comes with a very discrete eye dropper, so the uncouth among us can add as much or as little water as we like without facing the scorn of the purists.
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Erm, this is just in case you don’t know what an eye dropper is??? OK, no it’s not, I just liked this shot. And look, there’s half a Haggis bon bon there too. Yum.
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This is one of the cocktails I didn’t like, but that’s because I forgot I don’t like Campari. Oopsie.

For snacks we had a cheese and ham platter and haggis bon bons – a very good way to ease yourself into one of Scotland’s most notorious dishes.

haggis ball
Here’s some Serrano ham and the infamous bon bon, again half devoured and looking a lot less appetising than it does on its own plate. Sorry. You’ll just have to trust me.

The Devil’s Advocate is quite compact. In the bar there are only two wooden tables and a few stools, so if you pop in for a drink at a busy time, you’ll most likely be standing in a tight crowd of revellers and after-workers. So for me the best way to experience its charms is to go on an (preferably dark and foreboding) afternoon or early evening, before the crowds get there. That way you can enjoy your whisky and bon bons and gesticulate wildly while you tell your companions about your day without smacking eight strangers in the arm.

Or… you could book a table and stay there for some food…

Stuff to Know:

Address: 9 Advocate’s Close, Edinburgh EH1 1ND

The Devil’s Advocate is the sister bar of the equally atmospheric Bon Vivant in Newtown’s Thistle Street.