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The Basement Bar
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The Basement Bar
10a-12a Broughton Street,
0131 557 0097
12noon-1am, 7 days

For more than half my life, I've lived in the East End of Edinburgh - the part of

Edinburgh that New Towners look down on and frequenters to the West End scoff at for the lack of 'quality' drinking establishments (the kind of place where the music blares, both sexes act like they're hunting mates on the Serengeti and the drinks are expensive, alcoholic and, generally, not very good). Up until now I kind of agreed with them - there wasn't a quality drinking establishment serving good cocktails made with great spirits...until now!

 I've just returned to the Basement Bar in Broughton Street for the first time since its

refurb in November last year and must admit to being more than pleasantly surprised. The bar and restaurant areas are lighter, brighter and roomier than before, with some interesting decorative features. Gone are the Hawaiian shirts and the industrial candlesticks. In come light fittings made from tequila bottles, some canvases that tip their hat to the gaudy shirts of yore and a wall of artificial plants that, from where we sat, actually looked real!

However the biggest surprise came in the approach the new manager, Nicky Craig, is taking to quality drinks. Yes the fantastic selection of tequilas is still there (it wouldn't be the Basement without them), but now you can sip them with a choice of three excellent sangritas (£1.00 each) - a tomato sangrita (mistakenly thought of as the authentic sangrita), a lighter and less spicy apple sangrita and, my favourite, a very traditional pomegranate sangrita (a recipe Nicky brought over from an old bar just outside of Mexico City). Ask any of the bar staff and they'll recommend the perfect sangrita to go with your choice of tequila (£2.75 to £8.00 a shot).

 I could have spent all night on the tequila (at least 30 to drink my way through!), but we were there to try the cocktails so reluctantly we swapped over. However, we did stick to tequila cocktails. Again, I was impressed by the quality on offer. Between us we sampled a Driving Miss Daisy (£5.95), a good introduction to tequila drinks, a Mexican Stand Off (£6.95), a great cocktail for lovers of tequila and Manhattans, a Chili Mxocha (£5.95) perfect for those who like coffee, chocolate and chilli and a Smokin' Negroni (£6.95), think traditional Negroni with more than a hint of Mezcal.

 It won't be too long before I'm descending the stairs to indulge in some Basement bliss again.


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