When looking at the great party capitals of Europe, Glasgow falls somewhere between the youthful chaos of Manchester (or Madchester as it’s commonly known) and the chic style and sexy kink of Berlin’s darkest dancefloors. It’s a top tier club scene that also features tons of great food — landing it in a real sweet spot.
Below, I put together a guide to help you eat, drink, and rage your way through Glasgow on any given weekend. But the options the city offers are endless. The best plan is to meet (or make) some friends, find a starting point, make more friends, and see where the night takes you. Bringing it back to Manchester and Berlin, Glasgow has the chillest vibe of the three and it’s really, really easy to connect with fellow partygoers as your night moves along.
Pre-dinner Drinks — The Finnieston
The Finnieston neighborhood is slightly west of the center of the city. It’s walkable (about a mile) from Merchant but you might want to take a cab or Uber. The overall vibe of the neighborhood is East and South Asian immigrant meets hip. There are great East Asian restaurants in between cocktail bars, trendy seafood and steakhouses, and beer bars. You could theoretically spend your whole night bouncing around the neighborhood and probably end up at an underground speakeasy if you make the right friends along the way.
Or you could just pop into The Finnieston for a killer martini on way to another part of the city. The Finnieston has a superb drinks menu with tons of innovative cocktails that lean into the beauty of Scottish terroir. They’ll also make you a classic cocktail of your choice that’s certain to be impeccable. Hell, you can even grab a couple of oysters if you’re a little peckish.
The overall feel of the place is bustling. There will be a few tables with couples drinking wine, a few tables of friends getting ready for the night, and a few solo cocktail drinkers looking for a fun time. It’s a good mix and you can feel the anticipation of a good night ahead while sitting at the bar sipping on your martini.
You can find The Finnieston here.
Dinner — The Anchor Line
Heading into Merchant City, the center of Glasgow, is definitely the play if you don’t get pulled into some other direction by your new friends at Finnieston. If you’re planning to make it to 3am, it’s probably best to get some calories in your body to absorb alcohol and fuel your dancing later.
The Anchor Line, right on St. Vincent Street in the center of the center of Glasgow, is a great stop on any night out. The place has an old-school art-deco feel with a pretty large bar and seating area up front and a big dining room behind it. On a weekend night, you’ll need a reservation or you might have to wait to get lucky at the bar (once sitting at the bar, you can order from the full menu).
The play here is to order a martini and oysters as a starter. Again, the martini will be on point and the oysters will be super local and fresh. From there, the menu is a mix of classic Scottish remixed with luxe twist. Think petite filet steaks served with grilled cherry tomatoes, lobster mac with seaweed powder, a steakhouse burger with locally smoked cheddar and raised beef, and just copious amounts of fresh seafood from all around Scotland.
In short, you’ll be in for an elevated meal with deep Scottish roots, a killer old-school bar scene, and tons of people to meet or just people-watch with. Expect to pay around $30-$50 per person for food and a drink.
Make a reservation for The Anchor Line here.
Cocktails — The Gate
Okay, it’s time to truly get a drink or two in. Heading a little further east from Merchant, you’ll hit the Trongate neighborhood or Barras Market. There, you’ll find a small door next to a sex shop with “The Gate” in neon above it. Inside, you’ll find one of the best cocktail and whisky bars in the city. The crew behind the bar train by going to Islay for retreats and Berlin to mix drinks. The crowd is a great mix of locals from the neighborhood and the cool kids in the know.
While the bespoke cocktails really do shine, especially the ones with local ingredients from the countryside, the whisky list cannot be ignored. There’s a deep selection of classic whiskies behind the bar. There are also new offerings you might not have heard of because they’ve not started exporting them yet. The point is, don’t be afraid to order a cocktail and a Glencairn with a good pour, it’s a pretty common sight at the bar.
All of that said, The Gate’s Boulevardier (pictured above) is spot on and made with Craigellachie instead of bourbon, giving the drink an almost fruity vibe. Speaking personally, I love it.
You can find The Gate here.
Club — Nice ‘n’ Sleazy
If you only have one night to party in Glasgow, then you have to hit at least two clubs. In the northwest corner of Merchant City, you’ll find Nice ‘n’ Sleazy. On the surface, this looks like a student pub/dive bar (with Mexican “street food”) that’ll be brimming with very drunk/high people when you walk in, even early-ish in the night. But you’ve gotta head down to the basement for the real fun.
Generally, there’ll be a show on in the basement that’ll range from a live band to a drag show to live poetry readings (there was an electronic dance party happening when I showed up). Most shows start between eight pm and midnight, depending on who’s performing. During that time, the vibe of the bar will go from drunken fun to crazy bacchanalia, again depending on who’s on that basement stage. If the show in the basement isn’t your vibe, you can always go back upstairs and chat up the throngs of people tying one (or ten) on at the bar.
You can find Nice ‘n’ Sleazy here.
Late Night — Sub Club
Sub Club — back in Merchant City right next to the Central train station — is the most iconic club in Glasgow. It’s somehow survived decades and remains one of the most important stops for DJs from all over the world. The actual club is shockingly small with a low ceiling — it’s in a basement, after all. You’ll also need to get tickets for Friday and Saturday night sets (it’s around $12).
Once you get through the line and the door, you’ll be entrenched in a sea of writhing bodies all moving to the same beat. It’s sweaty, drunken, and sexy while being a little disorientating (depending) how packed it actually is. Which is everything you want after a few cocktails.
Doors open at eleven pm and close at three am.
You can see the full schedule and buy tickets here.
The Morning After — Singl-end Cafe & Bakehouse Merchant City
It’s a pretty good bet that if you went to Sub Club, you didn’t leave until the whole party spilled out into the streets at three am. Then from there … well, that’s up to you.
The next morning, you’re going to need a recovery meal and Bloody Mary. If you’re still in Merchant City, head to Singl-end Cafe. The bakery/breakfast spot will have everything you need from well-made coffee to piles of scones to brunch cocktails (after eleven am) and one of the best eggs Benny in the city. Order the “Stornoway Eggs” — a Benny that comes with nicely poached eggs over fried black pudding on a thick slice of baked in-house sourdough that’s toasted off and covered in a bacon-tomato jam. The hollandaise is spot on, making the whole thing the nourishment you need after a long night out.
There are also tons of cakes, bars, cookies, and great bread if that’s your scene. All of it is made in-house.
You can find Singl-end Cafe & Bakehouse Merchant City here.
Hair of the Dog — Chinaski’s
If it’s still Saturday, you’ll probably need a little hair of the dog before you tempt fate and go out for another round at the clubs later in the night. Chinaski’s — also in the northwest corner of Merchant City — is a speakeasy with pretty solid food and a cocktail menu. It’s the sort of place where you show up for a pint that turns into a whisky that turns into a meal that turns into more drinks as the DJs start to spin. And before you know it, you’re already out for a Saturday night party.
The joint doesn’t have a sign. You’ll just have to find the storefront with a soft teal paint job. If you make it inside for a little cocktail pick me up, it’s worth grabbing an espresso martini first. They’re pretty well done, with real depth and creaminess. Their New York sour is on point too.
If the weather is warm enough, you can post up in the back garden and let the day slip away while you eat, drink, and be merry. You’ll be sure to meet some people doing the exact same thing as you.
Inside, you’ll find a pretty damn good whiskey bar that leans towards American whiskeys, especially bourbon. Also, if you do end up getting drawn in, don’t sleep on the fish and chips– they’ll give a good base for another night out in the clubs of Glasgow.
You can find Chinaski’s here.
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