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Smoke and Mirrors - charming and bijou
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Smoke and Mirrors
159 Constitution Street,
0131 467 0402.
Opens at 5pm.

It would be easy to miss Smoke & Mirrors, set as it is on the corner of Constitution Street and Laurie Street. Not quite at the heart of Leith’s well-known thoroughfare, and unlikely to pick up a lot of passing trade. Which is a shame as it’s an invitingly cosy little bar with a few pleasant surprises.

Built on an ethos of sustainability and responsible sourcing, the bar is small but eclectic with some wonderful drinks on offer: take the Black Cow Vodka, made in Dorset using whey from the production of award-winning cheddar; the family of fair-trade liqueurs using kumquat and pomegranate; or even the range of Scottish produced gins including two of my favourites – Arbikie Kirsty’s Gin and Achroous Gin. All in all, plenty for the discerning drinker to enjoy.

The interior is quirky with reconditioned furniture, multicoloured lights, exposed brick, murals and loads of greenery. In the summer they even have a small herb garden providing fresh ingredients for their cocktails.

And what about the cocktails? Well, Smoke and Mirrors falls into the good category for its cocktails. Very drinkable, using very good ingredients but not quite reaching the heights of some of Edinburgh’s more illustrious bars.

On arrival we tried the S&M Old Fashioned Thyme by the Sea (£8.20). The Old Fashioned was a pleasing mix of rye whiskey and bitters, sweetened with some Dark Matter Chocolate Orange liqueur – my favourite cocktail of the evening and great for lovers of short, strong, sweetened drinks.

The Winter Thyme by the Sea was a combination of Edinburgh Seaside Gin, bitters and Aperitivo Select, topped up with grapefruit soda and served with a sprig of lemon thyme. A refreshing long drink with a pleasant hit of thyme on the nose.

We followed these with a Cosmo Highball (£7.80) and the S&M perfect serve of Edinburgh Cannonball Gin (£9.20). The Cosmo Highball – Black Cow Vodka, Kumquat Liqueur, cranberry juice and soda was slightly disappointing, being served too long and, as a result, the fruity flavours being too dilute. The gin serve, however,
was very good – flavours of juniper, agave, rhubarb and ginger providing a satisfying kick.

Given our enjoyable evening, here’s hoping Smoke & Mirrors is discovered by more cocktail lovers. (M. Earl)

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