The area in which the Blue Blazer sits in Edinburgh has always puzzled me somewhat. How did West Port and the surrounding area manage to become famous for two things: second-hand books and strippers? They seem odd bedfellows but they have co-existed for years and this fine old pub has no doubt served patrons of both types of establishment down the years. And served them well, as this is a great little boozer that I find myself visiting every few months for some reason or other.
The Blue Blazer sits proudly on the corner of Spittal Street and Bread Street, in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle. The eponymous blue blazer is the pub sign and it’s complemented by well-kept hanging baskets that create a welcoming feel. Inside, the pub is made up of two separate rooms. You enter into the main bar where a small amount of seating skirts the room while regulars are likely to be found occupying the small nook at the end of the bar. In the centre of the bar area, a barrel just begs to be stood round.
The second, back room, of the pub is better for large groups with banquette seating and stools creating the perfect area to chew over the affairs of the day or enjoy a quiet pint with the crossword, a favourite pastime of mine.
It’s clear from this part of the pub that this is a no-nonsense kind of place. You come here to drink great beer and fine whisky, not to marvel over the ornate interior, as borne out by the slightly untidy area at the end of the bar that no effort is made to beautify. It’s off this area that you’ll also find the steps down to the toilets. I’m not 100 per cent sure but I think both the steps and the toilets might have marginally improved in recent years. Either that or my standards are falling as this place was renowned for the slightly perilous descent to some slightly grubby conveniences.
Speaking of slightly grubby, the Blue Blazer is on the edge of Edinburgh’s “Pubic Triangle” where a number of strip clubs vie for the business of passing stags and office nights out. The clientele in the Blazer however is rich and varied. Students and lecturers from the nearby Edinburgh Edinburgh Art College rub shoulders with the suits of nearby law firms while the odd tourist will also stumble in here for a traditional Edinburgh pub experience. This place also opens late and gets rammed during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
In terms of Edinburgh pub experience, the Blue Blazer ticks a lot of boxes. There’s plenty of real ale on offer and a bonus from my point of view is that one of them is generally Trade Winds from the excellent Cairngorm Brewery in Aviemore, which I recently had the pleasure of visiting. (If you do find yourself up north, I’d recommend the mere £3 they charge for a tour, generous samples of a dozen or so ales and the priceless un-PC banter of tour guide Bruce.) The Blue Blazer also boasts lots of traditional dark wood and a huge selection of whiskies.
For those of you who like to drink with your loyal companion by your side, the Blazer is dog friendly. It’s also the only pub I’ve ever been in where I’ve had to alert a member of staff to the fact that a dog was throwing up in the corner. One too many, obviously. I think it’s in Fawlty Towers when Basil wonders out aloud: “A dead dog in the breakfast room? Egon Ronay would knock off a star for that.” I won’t knock any stars off the Blue Blazer for a vomiting dog, though, as the barman was very apologetic and immediately took the animal for a bit of fresh air.
I’ve clearly gone off at a bit of a tangent there, what with peaky dogs and trips to the Cairngorm Brewery, but suffice to say I like the Blue Blazer. It’s easily the best pub in its part of town and well worth a visit.
The Blue Blazer is at 2 Spittal St, Edinburgh, EH3 9DX. Find them on Twitter here.