A “Whistle Binkie” is a traveling musician usually paid in beer – an apt name for one of Edinburgh's most vibrant live music venues. Open until 3 am every night (and 5 am during the festival), it's popular with locals and tourists alike. Whistle Binkies is located in the vaults (a series of cavernous halls and tunnels formed during the construction of the South Bridge beside the Royal Mile in the heart of the capital) and has retained its rough-hewn charm.
If you arrive early, you can be ensconced in one of the cellar-like rooms at the back of the venue. But, be warned - late arrivals are very unlikely to find a seat. The entrance is fairly easy to miss. Look for the sign above a small doorway at the corner across from the clock tower of the Tron Kirk on the Royal Mile.
Whistle Binkies — Photo courtesy of Simon Hill
The area has had a rich history and the caverns beneath the pub have been visited by numerous ghost hunters and ghost hunting tours. Member of staff have apparently reported seeing the apparition of a man in riding boots and a tri-cornered hat in the cellar, but most visitors are content to sample the real ales and more mundane type of spirit, as they enjoy an eclectic range of live music.
Although the pub once had a more folksy background, with a decidedly Celtic connection, the music is now more varied with details of the bands playing to be found on their website. Whistle Binkies has also hosted an open mic night for over a decade, the longest-standing of its kind. You are guaranteed a friendly welcome, a wide array of ales and spirits, and lively music and dancing to keep you entertained well into the night.