Your dog might be happy with a crisp glass of water on a Friday night (and we’ll definitely envy their brain-fog-free energy tomorrow), but Edinburgh’s sparkling bar scene was built to lead us owners astray. The great news is that our teetotal sidekicks are increasingly welcome, too. Edinburgh’s dog-friendly bars now span everything from riotous whiskey nooks to hipster cocktail haunts – all providing a comfy seat that even our dogs can say bottoms up to. And now for our next trick: to train our dogs to pick up the bar tab once in a while. Let us know if you crack it.
Address & map: 1A Market St, Edinburgh EH1 1DE
You’ve likely heard of Oktoberfest–the legendary, beer-swigging, German folk festival. But at Bavarian bar, Brewhemia, Oktoberfest celebrations are overshadowed by an even more raucous (or should that be ruff-cous) festivity, DOGtoberfest. The first event took place in 2019, with one dog travelling from Bristol–an epic 370 miles away–to lap up a Bottom Sniffer beer and snaffle a treat bag. DOGtoberfest dates for this year are still TBC, but are likely to take place on the afternoons of the first and last Sundays during Oktoberfest. That said, dogs are much-adored clients throughout the year at Brewhemia, and even have their own moniker–Pawhemians. In true VIP style (that’s Very Important Pawhemian), dogs receive a treat on arrival, a water bowl, and a doggy bed with a cosy blanket. But before they feel too at home and turn into howligans, there’s a couple of dogs-in-bars ground rules: no guzzling human food, no sprawling out into a trip hazard (no matter how comfy that floor is), and three barks and they’re out. Not even raising a paw at the bouncer will save them, so make sure your pooch is on best behaviour if you’re planning a visit to Brewhemia.
2. Sofi’s Bar
Address & map: 65 Henderson Street, Leith, Edinburgh EH6 6ED
“Dugs welcome, people tolerated!” the sign above the bar reads, which gives an indication of just how dog-friendly this vintage-themed bar beside the Water of Leith is. The ambience inside Sofi’s is like your grandma’s living room: all mismatched furniture, cosy lighting, and sleepy nooks where dogs are allowed to curl up on the couches. For the twitching noses, yes, there are treats: a stash of gravy bones is on offer for every dog who comes in (which explains why there are a lot of canine regulars). There’s even a doggy happy hour on the last hump-day of the month called ‘Woof Wednesdays’, where every owner accompanied by a pooch can enjoy a glass of wine and a dog goodie bag for £5 (just don’t confuse who gets which). Tag pictures with the hashtags #woofwednesdays and #dogsofsofis to make your pup Insta-famous. And if you have change leftover from your order, pop it in the jars on the bar–all money raised goes to Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home. Sofi’s Bar is nice like that.
3. Cask Smugglers
Address & map: Waverley Mall Rooftop, 3 Princes Street, Edinburgh EH1 1BQ
Top of the list of central Edinburgh bars that allow dogs has to be Cask Smugglers–a speakeasy-inspired whiskey and cocktail joint that takes dog hospitality as seriously as its mixology. With one of those, “How did I not know this place existed?’ locations (clue: it’s in the old tourist information centre at the top of Waverley Mall and train station), once inside, canine comforts start flowing: water bowls and dog treats are provided, and there’s even a dog-friendly beer garden (just keep the digging to a minimum, right Lola). Cask Smugglers also doubles up as a PA for your dog’s social life. October 31 saw its first “Howl-o’ween” party, a Halloween bash where the best-dressed pooch scooped grooming vouchers (our money was on the Jack-the-ripper Russell). While in March 2020, it held Edinburgh’s first ever dog market called Barket (what else?!), which featured local companies that specialise in artisan dog products. Owners needn’t feel left out, either, thanks to exceptional Peruvian food by its in-house chef, Lima-born Carlo Carozzi.
4. Cabaret Voltaire–The Dug Café
Address & map: 36-38 Blair St, Edinburgh EH1 1QR
A dog cafe and a late-night cabaret might not sound like your classic paw-tners in crime, but since September 2018, the cafe at Cabaret Voltaire on Blair Street has been opening its doors wide-open to dogs. Pooches are welcome anytime, but Sundays from 12pm-6pm is the canine sweet-spot: this is The Dug Cafe’s slot–a relaxed weekly hangout and socialisation space for dogs. Being a music-led venue, soul and chill-out tunes accompany the excited whimpers…which we’ll pretend are coming from the dogs instead of us humans. All breeds and non-breeds are equally welcomed, and while owners feast on the good stuff–cakes, coffee, pizza and alcohol–the pooches get into party mode, too. The dog menu features pupacinos, dog beer and doggy pizza, there’s a ball pit and a soft-play area (sadly, only for the dogs), as well as a donation bucket for all those pre-loved toys where your pooch was more interested in the packaging than the plaything. Look out for occasional dog workshops, too, such as pop-up training classes, where a local dog pro will offer handy behaviour tips. Which may or may not get forgotten the second they enter the ball pit.
5. Hey Palu
Address & map: 49 Bread Street, Edinburgh EH3 9AH
Does anything taste better than an Aperol spritz sipped beside a snoozing pup? Well, that’s the vibe at cool Italian cocktail bar, Hey Palu, which even had its own canine mascot, Declan, when it opened in 2019. The bad news for Declan is that he’s since been barred. The seven-year-old mix of Anatalonian and German Shepherd had a tendency to get rather vocal, and to think that every customer was a potential assassin. So, while he’s currently serving a lifetime ban (only allowed in prior to the afternoon opening), Hey Palu’s team now pour all of their dog love on visitors. A selection of dog biscuits is available on arrival–all of which have passed the taste test from Declan–and anyone wanting to get more than their fair share should take notes from dog regular, Mordi. A very cute black Spaniel (who was also the bar’s first canine customer), Mordi has an uncanny ability to persuade staff to give him double the volume of treats of any other dog. We’re watching you, Mordi.
If Edinburgh’s dog-friendly bars leave you feeling a little, er, ruff, Rover.com’s trusted dog walkers and sitters in Edinburgh will happily expend all of your dog’s excess energy while you quietly recover. Yes, we’ve been there.
Featured image: Brewhemia