Party all night
Aberdeen may be synonymous with the granite that starkly singles out its architecture but in the pubs and clubs there is nothing grey or cold about the city at night. If you have the stamina you can party all night, every night, and the vast array of establishments around are testament to the fact that Aberdonians love a party.
The influence of the oil industry in the local economy has perhaps led to higher prices in many watering holes but you can still sup well at a decent rate in some of the more traditional pubs. To get a flavour of the real Aberdeen, you should try a pint in The Grill in Union Street. The Grill was originally established in 1870 as a restaurant – hence the name. It then became just a pub and has remained largely unchanged since 1926, the year of the General Strike.
Another Granite City institution is The Prince of Wales in St Nicholas Lane. To find it, head down Union Street and turn into St Nicholas Street as if heading for Marks & Spencer or the St Nicholas Centre. Instead, turn immediately first left into the narrow cobbled lane behind the bank and it is about half way along on the right. Inside you will find a good range of real ales and all the malt whiskies as you could possibly want. It has a great olde worlde atmosphere and there are excellent good value bar meals.
Nearby, and right in the historical heart of Aberdeen at Castlegate, the Old Blackfriars pub is one of Aberdeen’s oldest hostelries and is worth a visit. So, too, is Under the Hammer, just off Golden Square, by comparison a more recent addition to the traditional pub scene, but one where conviviality and good ale flow freely.
If you have the stamina you can party all night, every night, and the vast array of establishments around are testament to the fact that Aberdonians love a party
If it’s a touch of history you’re after, Ma Cameron’s snug bar in Little Belmont Street is the oldest in Aberdeen, dating back over 300 years. The pub today has a wide range of real ales and boasts a rooftop beer garden. Soul Bar is housed in the former Langstane Kirk at the Junction of Union Street and Bon Accord Street, Aberdeen. The bar is on the ground floor and blends ecclesiastical architecture and original stained glass windows with the sophisticated and sociable atmosphere of a modern, upmarket bar. There is also a lighter, more contemporary bar at the back.
Across Union Street The Tippling House in Belmont Street is a subterranean late-night tavern with a wide range of ‘boutique’ spirits and hand-crafted cocktails boasting imaginative names such as The Roosevelt Corollary, Daisy De Santiago and Diabolo Menthe. Travelling to the top of Union Street at its junction with Alford Place you arrive at The College Bar, developed within the former Christ’s College building. You can’t miss it with its two flaming torches burning brightly at the door.
A few hundred yards up the road is No 10 Bar and Restaurant, a brick-lined basement bar near the Queen’s Cross end of Queen’s Terrace, Aberdeen. It was one of Aberdeen’s first wine bars, created at the height of 1980s ‘Yuppiedom’, and after a recent refurbishment and expansion it remains one of the best the city has to offer. It attracts many of the city’s professional movers and shakers yet it is not in the least bit stuffy and now also boasts a 90-seat restaurant.
A further few hundred yards west of Queen’s Cross is The Dutch Mill, in Queen’s Road, which has catered for successive generations of Aberdonians and remains a fine watering hole. It retains its name from the original Dutch owner who set up the pub in the 1960s and it too has recently had a major refurbishment. Malmaison completes the Queen’s Road trail – catering in part for the professionals who work nearby in accountancy firms, lawyers’ offices and new media companies and who descend on the venue’s Malbar for a post-work cocktail or even an ice bucket filled with vintage champagne!
If it’s a touch of history you’re after, Ma Cameron’s snug bar in Little Belmont Street is the oldest in Aberdeen, dating back over 300 years
Aberdeen club scene
The city’s club scene is particularly vibrant and again there is rarely a quiet night to be had. Aberdeen’s oil set mix effortlessly with the city’s hairdressers, shop workers and students and most clubs often have extravagantly-themed nights. Espionage, in the heart of the city centre on Union Street, boasts three floors and four bars in addition to two dance floors. Open seven nights a week, 365 days a year and with no entry fee, it is naturally a favourite with city clubbers.
Babylon is handily housed above The College bar, and the same clientele often migrate upstairs to finish their evening in one of Aberdeen’s smartest nightclubs, which is proud of its reputation as a club for all ages. Club Tropicana, as you’d expect from the name, appeals to people of all ages and the Chapel Street venue is themed with 1980s paraphernalia and has music ‘everyone’ can recognise. Exodus is upstairs in the Triple Kirks at the end of Belmont Street and has themed nights throughout the week where you can get your fix of anything from Motown, 60s and 70s and Electro.
Aberdeen’s oil set mix effortlessly with the city’s hairdressers, shop workers and students and most clubs often have extravagantly-themed nights
Nightlife in the shire
Moving out into the shire you are spoiled for choice by the number of country pubs and inns. Among these is The Broadstraik Inn about 20 minutes’ drive west of Aberdeen on the outskirts of Westhill which is an ideal stop for a drink or bar meal after exploring Royal Deeside.
Offering more than a bit of history is The Ship Inn at Stonehaven, built in 1771. Good meals are available at the inn’s Captain’s Table restaurant with great views over the harbour and the bar serves a wide range of draught beers, including real ales, and over 100 different malt whiskies.
Leaving Aberdeen on the north east route the White Horse Inn at Balmedie offers good food and beers and lies in the shadow of a major impact on the north east – the much heralded Donald Trump golf links at Menie, which opened in 2012.
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