Posted : 12 March 2020
Dundee’s nightlife is a huge part of why it’s been named Britain’s Coolest Little City. From prohibition-style Speakeasies to chic, Italian-inspired aperitivo lounges, there’s something for everyone. You just have to know where to look… There are late-night bars in Dundee which you know will be good before a drink is even poured. You only have to look behind the counter, and see the trophies and awards vying for space with the liquor bottles. A long-standing favourite hangout for cocktail lovers is the Jute café bar at the DCA. In its 20th year, it still pours top classic cocktails despite its busy, bustling atmosphere. Mojitos, Margaritas and Martinis adorn the menu, but it’s not just the breadth of offering that should entice you - the multi-levelled outdoor terrace is the perfect summer suntrap to cool down with a cocktail.
If it’s more of a late-night, intimate scene you’re looking for, there’s the King of Islington on Union Street. Think trendy rum vibes in a tiny single room. The head bartender is globally renowned, and it shows. All staff can whip up fantastic rum cocktails from the menu or anything else that suits your tastes. Transport yourself to Latin America with more rum than you could shake a sugarcane at!
Whilst there, it might be worth asking your bartender where their sister venue, Draffens, is. It’s Dundee’s speakeasy, named after the 19th Century department store in which it now resides. No signage, no branding, no social media. It’s a true trip back in time to the prohibition era. Bar staff serve in the style of the period and serve up stiff cocktails under jazz and dim gas-lights. If you can manage the stairs, you’ll make it to The Blue Room. It’s an atmospheric Italian apertivo experience, with plush seating and azure design Drinks are served in elegant glassware - you’ll feel instantly Italian and imminently Instagrammable.
Leaving the Nethergate and heading up the Perth Road will bring you to another subterranean cocktail joint: Capone’s. You guessed it, named after Al Capone and designed as another speakeasy; guests can have a peek at his “jail cell” built into the décor. Not to mention ordering some great nibbles to go along with cocktails while listening to the swing and jazz that he would have approved of.
If you’ve had your fill of the 1920s and beyond, why not step over to Dundee’s buzzing cultural quarter for something a little more contemporary? On the corner of the Westport, you’ll find the West House. Their relaxed café vibe continues into the night with sweet, eager-to-please cocktails. It’s the bubble-gum Fizz that will have your Instagram and tongue popping. DJs playing disco-house at the weekends are the perfect way to enjoy the sweet fizzy sensations on offer.
A little less sweet, and a little more Spanish, on the street is the city centre’s little slice of the Iberian Peninsula. In its infancy, Gallery 48 specialised in gin and wine along with tapas, but now offers an extensive cocktail range curated by award-winning bartenders. Speak nicely to those bartenders, and you may get a unique cocktail tailored to your unique tastes. A little flavour of sunshine is sometimes exactly what you need.
Another hidden bar worth discovering is just a three-minute walk from Gallery 48. 3 Session Street, name and address, is in a renovated jute mill. The ample open space is kept cosy with gas lamps on each table and plush seating areas. Their cocktails aren’t just for enjoying either. You can book a master class with friends and have a shake yourself! They also host Bottomless Brunches, usually once a month so get in touch and reserve a seat!
All of the bars above have won awards in the drinks and hospitality world. Considering that the second oldest venue on the list is only four years old, Dundee has certainly put itself on the cocktail map the world over. So why not book your next cocktail trail to Dundee? Everything is in walking distance and, with so many fabulous places to stay in the city, you can relax and sip at your leisure!
by Rachael Clarke