As I made my way down the cobbles of Rose Street, rain cascading down on me from a sky which threatened to strike with lightning at any moment, I almost walked past the offices.
I knew the general direction I was headed, it was on my way home, I just didn’t know the exact destination. I guess that should have been my first clue that these guys were something different.
Eventually, sopping wet, I found a blue door which looked like it had take a beating. Illuminated by a single lamp above the frame, in the pitch darkness I could just about make out the logo of the people I needed to see.
Bryant & Mack: Private Detectives
I swung open the surprisingly heavy door, leading into a tiny alcove with another set of double doors just ahead. Turning my bulky frame to allow the exterior door to close, it slammed behind me. So much for a surprise visit. With my only two options now being to cut and run or dive on in, I chose the latter.
Once I’d opened the interior set of doors (which were much lighter), I knew I’d found the right place. The room wasn’t dimly lit, there was just enough light. Not so much that you felt exposed, not too little you were in danger of falling over another of their clients.
Before I’d made my way to the bar, I was greeted with a warm and inviting welcome by the only dame in the place.
“Hey there, table for one or are others following?”
“Just me, for now.”
“There’s a table right behind you in the cosy corner, or you can just take a seat right on up at the bar.”
Before I settled into anywhere called a “cosy corner” I felt the need to scope out the place, make sure it was legit.
“Up at the bar is fine for me, thank you.”
“Set yourself down, have you been here before?” I had not “I’ll grab you a menu”
I was handed a manilla envelope with “CONFIDENTIAL” stamped on the front. Before I’d even had change to unwind the string on the back, I was being poured a glass of water. I unwound and opened the envelope to see what was inside. I poured out the contents onto the wooden bar.
Inside, there was a small booklet filled with cocktails, beers and other beverages.
I was in the right place.
Bryant & Mack is, for me, a place like no other. I have been to a number of cocktail bars in Edinburgh alone and I can say, wholeheartedly, that this one is my favourite. I have always had a penchant for 40’s style, speakeasy atmospheres and a pulp noir aesthetic and this bar has it all. It’s the sort of place you imagine when you read Raymond Chandler. The kind of “dive” you’d find the hardboiled detective in a Dashiell Hammett novel sitting down after taking a beating from some goons. Ordering up a Scotch and spilling his guts to the earnest and sympathetic barman; who would always be polishing a glass for some reason.
It has become one of my two sanctuaries. After a long evening of pouring drinks and cleaning up the mess, there’s nothing I love more than taking that right turn on my way home, pushing open the door and being met by the sight of that bar and the people behind it.
Now, to get on to the crux of the matter. How are the drinks?
Thanks for reading, call back for my next post….
I’m serious. There’s so much to talk about when it comes to drinks at Bryant & Mack, I honestly don’t have the time. Their original cocktails are all incredibly well crafted to the point of being artwork. Their classics are exactly what you ask for, made perfectly and if you want something off menu, they are more than happy to accommodate.
Where is it?
Somewhere just off Rose Street in Edinburgh. Listen, there’s only space for about 20 people inside, so if I give you all explicit instructions, you’ll all turn up and then I can’t get in. I don’t care how selfish that is, figure it out for yourself