From glamorous hotspots to trendy off-the-beaten-track haunts to specialist watering holes dedicated to artisan gins, Glasgow's bar scene is an eclectic mix and you will be spoilt for choice when choosing where to go.
Remember, right now bars and restaurants may require advance booking for their indoor and outdoor spaces, face coverings are mandatory for staff and customers when moving around, and there is a 10pm curfew in place (from September 25).
From ladies luncheons to couples retreats, there are plenty of bars in Glasgow that will meet your expectations.
Situated on Buchanan Street, the main shopping promenade in the city centre, The Ivy makes a stylish pitstop for a cocktail whilst enjoying some retail therapy. See their website for the brand new, limited edition Jungle Garden Cocktail Menu and to book a table. Also in the city centre, contemporary Scottish restaurant Ardnamurchan, pairs delicious cuisine with an extensive range of cocktails and whisky.
Then there are the glamorous hubs of Merchant Square and Princes Square which both offer a choice of bars and restaurants, within grand surrounds of architectural significance. Head to the chic October rooftop bar in Princes Square, for expertly mixed cocktails. Get your Insta-pic against the flower wall backdrop while enjoying their signature cocktail. Or Metropolitan Cocktail Bar within Merchant Square to enjoy your favourite tipple overlooking the indoor courtyard which sits elegantly under a canopy of twinkling fairy lights.
Also set under a ceiling of fairy lights is the charming cobbled lane that is full of character, Ashton Lane. Popular throughout the day and also as a late night stop, the lane in the city’s west neighbourhood is home to an array of bars and restaurants, including Brel and The Ubiquitous Chip.
Elegant hotel bars
Hotel bars always offer some of the most elegant spots in any city for a cocktail or two. And none more elegant than Bo & Birdy at Kimpton Blythswood Square Hotel. Enjoy a fabulous Bo & Birdy signature cocktail, complete with a peacock feather, alongside some stunning dishes created by Gillian Matthews, the first female, 5-star hotel executive head chef in Scotland.
For a super luxurious experience, The Dakota Hotel features an exclusive Champagne Room and Cigar Terrace, offering an extensive drinks list of classic cocktails and wine from around the world. Or head to the River Clyde and relax with a cocktail in the stylish surrounds of the new Radisson RED Sky Bar while enjoying unrivalled views across the city skyline.
Trendy bars in the city
Named as 'the UK's hippest strip' the Finnieston neighbourhood is a must-visit.
To begin, head to the hipster cool Lebowskis for a seriously good burger and a White Russian, they serve up over 30 variations of the milk-based cocktail! Further along the strip, you’ll find the venue that takes its title from the neighbourhood itself, The Finnieston. The gastro-fish pub prides itself on being Glasgow’s premier gin cocktail bar with an astonishing range of gins on offer.
Further west on Byres Road, Embargo Glasgow is a funky eating and drinking space with a menu inspired by Australasia and the Pacific and a cool cocktail menu with their cocktail of the moment, The Glaswegian Negroni!
In the city centre, there are plenty of off-the-beaten-track hangouts. Down lanes and under canopies of lights reside a number of the city’s most exclusive and best kept secret bars. Mitchell Lane, just off the city’s number one shopping location, Buchanan Street, is home to uber-cool venues like Tabac and Bar Soba.
Meanwhile, just a stone’s throw from George Square is Miller Street, where you will find the stylish favourite, The Spanish Butcher with wines selected from different regions of Spain and the brand new Thundercat diner. Check out Thundercat's menu with 40% off selected cocktails from Sunday-Thursday. Wander through the archway and stumble upon Virginia Court – a pretty courtyard where you can enjoy an alfresco drink (blankets are provided!) from the likes of Brutti Compadres and cocktail bar Gin 71.
Glasgow bars steeped in heritage
The city's built heritage can be seen everywhere in Glasgow. It's therefore no surprise that many of the iconic bars are set within buildings of significant distinction.
In keeping with the city’s shipbuilding heritage is The Anchor Line on St Vincent Place, which was the booking office for Anchor Line cruise ships. The Grade A1 listed building has been restored to its former glory, celebrating the grand ocean voyages between Glasgow and New York, with a US and Scottish inspired cocktail menu.
You can’t discuss the city’s built heritage without referencing Glasgow’s most famous son, Charles Rennie Mackintosh – the genius art nouveau designer and architect. The historical Mackintosh at the Willow has now reopened. Served daily, you can enjoy a classic afternoon tea in the stunning surrounds of the famous tearooms or why not make it extra special with Champagne, Prosecco, gin or whisky afternoon teas also available.
Or for something a bit different, hipster vegan hangout, Stereo Café Bar, occupies the lower floors of the Mackintosh designed former Daily Record Newspaper building.
For breathtaking surroundings head for Tellers Bar at The Corinthian Club, just around the corner from George Square. Dating back to 1842 and originally home to the Glasgow Ship Bank, The Corinthian Club is one of the city's most elaborate and richly decorated buildings both internally and externally with a cocktail list to match.
Set below Glasgow Central Station, Alston Bar & Beef takes its name from the street which was demolished to make way for the station’s construction in the 1870s. Alston’s is bathed in blue light and serves up 50+ gins, including 15 from across Scotland.
The Tearooms at The Butterfly and Pig is a cosy, vintage spot for lunch, with homemade cakes, sandwiches and comforting dishes, alongside teas or tipples served up in delightfully mismatched crockery.
On the banks of the River Clyde set beside the Rotunda is Cranside Kitchen, an outdoor and indoor venue with a food market and Glasgow's biggest beer garden. Food and drinks are available from five Glasgow restaurants served up at bespoke picnic tables with fantastic views of some of the city's iconic buildings and structures.
The Botany is located north of the city on Maryhill Road. Grab a seat in the modern, relaxed conservatory which overlooks a pretty area of green space, and enjoy expertly mixed cocktails and posh pub grub.
For a refreshing afternoon pint, try Innis & Gunn’s flagship bar and on-site microbrewery at Ashton Lane, or one of the two Brewdog pubs run by craft beer experts, Brewdog in the west neighbourhood and Doghouse in the Merchant City – both perfect pit stops after city jaunts.
Taste local tipples
Glasgow is firmly part of the craft beer and spirits movement with several independent breweries, specialist bars and distilleries open across the city.
Gin 71 is the night-time incarnation of Cup Tea Lounge, with artisan gins, homebrew tonics and cocktails on the menu. Like a number of the gin bars in the city, they stock gins from Glasgow and Scottish suppliers. And for the first time in 300 years, Glasgow has its very own spiced rum distillery. Head to the west neighbourhood for a tour of the Wester Spirit Co. distillery for a behind-the-scenes look into how it's produced, followed by a cocktail masterclass afterwards.
Shilling Brewing Co. is the first to bring the brewpub experience to the heart of Glasgow, the city that’s been pioneering the perfect pint for over 400 years. Enjoy their core range of beers designed to be enjoyed fresh, just metres from where they are brewed, alongside a host of beers sourced from pioneering craft breweries.
Meanwhile, the city’s brewery district can be found in the east neighbourhood. There’s the UK's first experiential craft brewery, Drygate, where you can watch the beer brewing as you enjoy a pint. Finally, purists will fancy a pint at WEST Brewery, producers of German-style beers, all being brewed in strict accordance with the 1516 Reinheitsgebot, the ancient German Purity Law.
For ideas and inspiration on how to enjoy and experience the city at the moment, check out our Glasgow Now section for articles on shopping, tours, exploring neighbourhoods and more.
Article updated September 2020