By many viewed as the national past-time, the culture of drinking is alive and well in this remote corner of Scotland. The idea is that in order to warm up from the freezing winds, rain and fog or to keep away the midgies, understand the accent or the reason why you chose to live here, you need to drink whisky. Or something like that… Many people have many theories about why the Scots like to drink so much and they are often ridiculous stereotypes without much logic. However I believe that due to good growing conditions and the tenacity that comes from living on such a rugged land; the Scots have an ability to grow great crops. Looking at the number of talented Scottish engineers, its no wonder the farmers and the engineers got to together at some point to create some amazing facilities and sites for the distillation of grains and other crops into alcohol.
First of all, one needs to understand the background. For almost ever, ‘Locals’ or country pubs have represented the hubs and meeting places of large parts of Scottish society for a long time. As we moved through the 20th century, the casks behind the bar were largely replaced by kegs as the big companies bought off all the smaller brewers. So largely there was a dearth of unique and traditional beer. Whisky went down the same road more recently. Gin was usually viewed as too fancy in many places, linked as it is with Imperial Britain. Recently we have seen a reversal of all these trends with new craft breweries, distilleries and bars, all selling premium Scottish products. This reversal stems from pride- pride in the produce, the product and the country of origin.
Aberdeen being the Oil and Gas capital of Europe for many years attracted quite a lot of investment, so compared to the rest of the UK. There is a pretty thriving economy based on alcohol and partying. Looking at the nightlife objectively, there seems to be a lot of loud and intense nightclubs, some playing very good music – big names and really cool underground artists alike, some playing crap. There aren’t many good bars that are open late to talk with your friends. However, there are some pretty funky things going on. For example Belmont street and its churches or the surrounding forests in summer. If you you want to get wasted and have a ‘laugh’, thats easy, if you want to the perfect experience in Aberdeen you need to do some planning but you also need to be lucky. Some of the after-parties on the bleary side of 3 am after some nightclubs shut can be amazing, as can the raves out in the forest but to find a good one can be hard and is just a matter of talking to students and being lucky. Regarding everyone looking for more conventional partying, the city centre has a load of stuff going on as we will show in this post.
For the connoisseurs:
Those of you looking for a cigar, a fine whiskey or a craft beer, look no further than Aber. Hot on the back of local brewery Brewdog’s success, a number of high quality options are available in the city centre.
CASC can be found at 7 Stirling Street or be reached on 01224 212373.
Six°North is on 6 Littlejohn Street or you can call them on 01224 379192
The Grill is on 213 Union Street, you may call them on 01224 573530
For the dancing crew:
Whether you want to let your hair down and just dance or be seen dancing with the local celebrity footballer, Aberdeen has several cool, slick and sexy cosmopolitan venues to appeal to all those posers who want to go ‘clubbing’, in style. Get in touch with them ahead of time to skip the lines or to find out who’s DJing.
Underground is a cool place populated by University students with the DJ playing top 40 hits and the barman selling Redstripe lager at 6 quid a pop. Go figure at 10 – 18 Bridge Street or call them up on 01224 582828
Nox is a late night luxury venue catering to trendy twenty-somethings. Vodka mixers are about 6 quid. It is on 2 Justice Mill Lane and you can call them on 01224 590902 if you would like to book a private room or table.
Babylon is the premium ‘be seen’ nightclub. The local football team goes regularly as do the 30 somethings and above. Expensive guest list, VIP and members kind of place, so bring your black shoes and a fat wallet. Go to 9 Alford Place or call 01224 595550.
As the name suggests, this venue is literally underground, the coolest sounds come from this gritty, intimate club set under the cobbles of the merchant quarter. Called ‘The Tunnels’, it has been holding down the fort for alternative music for at least a decade in various incarnations. Go to Carnegies Brae or call 01224 619930 for more info.
Yeah, we don’t hold much sacred apparently. If partying hard in a converted cathedral sounds like your cup of tea, check out these three options. All are rowdy, cheap, busy and most importantly, set in various old religious buildings.They’re all on Belmont street, just off Union Street, which is a lovely cobbled road in a beautiful and cool part of town.
Slain’s Castle is a horror themed bar with cheap drinks and nice outdoor seating. The decor is kinda lame but it is a nice place to chill out.
The Priory is a dirty, nasty, slightly dangerous nightclub that keeps changing its name (it could be Redemption now) but will always be the last place in the world you’d want to be on any given night. Unless you want to get in a fight with a Scottish dude at 2 in the morning, hammered, in a church. Its in the middle of the street, so you will walk past it, don’t let the beautiful outside fool you.
Triple Kirks is a good compromise between the two mentioned above. The pub downstairs is slightly more lively than Slain’s ever gets, while the upstairs late night club plays mostly inoffensive Indie stuff, with the crowd that normally goes along with that. Theres food during the day and a nice beer garden.
The King of the Scene:
Local innovators Brewdog have set the Scottish beer scene ablaze with their quirky and passionate appeals to the consumer to educate themselves about the amazing products they bring to the table. The punk attitude is strong here, with many unspoken rules of Aberdonian bars broken. Such as no football colours to be worn inside the bar, no shots and no TV. A manifesto that brings about accusations of arrogance from some, but is very welcomed by others tired of Aberdeen’s rambunctious, boisterous scene.
Brewdog can be found at number 17 on the Gallowgate.