Bennets Bar – Edinburgh, Scotland - Gastro Obscura

Edinburgh locals have been drinking at the building that houses Bennets Bar since 1839. Refitted with a new interior in 1906, the bar maintains many of its historic fixtures, including stained glass windows, beautiful tiles depicting cherubs, and a wooden bar. There is even a brass water tap for topping off one’s whisky. Perhaps the most unusual feature, however, is what locals refer to as a “jug” or “snug.”

At the time when this drinking institution opened its doors, alcohol was deemed by many to be a shameful vice. Notice the height of the stained glass windows at the entrance. Now they appear to be a merely aesthetic addition, but they were once a precautionary measure against prying eyes and a way to conceal the transgressions going on inside. As a result of this view of drinking and the behavior it typically inspired, bars were often considered “Men Only” premises. To accommodate women, a separate room, known as a “jug” or “snug,” was created. Detached, but adjacent, the small room was a supposed safe haven where women, or those who wished to avoid the raucous affairs taking place in the main portion, could enjoy a meal or even keep tabs on the proceedings in the next room.

Bennet’s still features its secluded room, complete with its own entrance and serving hatch. Today, everyone is allowed to enjoy and take part in this unique vestige of a bygone era. A party of four, six if they squeeze in tight, can order food and drink through the tiny window.

Know Before You Go

The pub can get quite busy due to its location next to the King's Theatre. The snug is first-come, first-served, so it is advised to avoid visiting around 7:00 p.m. showtimes and matinees. Because of its limited space, it is not wheelchair accessible. 

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