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 Kays Bar, New Town, Edinburgh


Kays Bar
39 Jamaica Street West

Contact:David Mackenzie
Tel: 0131 225 1858
See Map

Real Ale * Guest Ales * Wine Selection
Bar Food * Town/City Pubs * Quiet Pubs
Open Fire Pubs * Wheelchair Access * Pets Welcome

About the Pub
  This small bar that looks like a detached cottage was originally the office of Kay’s wine importers. The front door opens directly into the bar and it is common to find someone sat on a barstool right behind that door. Old barrels hang on one wall and with red paint, plush upholstery and a cast iron fireplace this bar is very comfortable. Historical: John Kay and Sons Wine Merchants traded from 39 Jamaica Street, supplying fine wines and spirits, for the domestic and international markets. Their closure in the seventies sadly concluded over 150 years of excellence, which had earned the company immense respect. Thereafter trading as a public house, the mantle of John Kay has been upheld. Unerring attention to quality has culminated in acknowledgement as Edinburgh's premier cask ale-house. 'Kays name is your guarantee.'
Linda - Jun 2001
Whats on Guide
  There is a small back room with just two tables and a window seat where food is served at lunchtimes. The usual haggis, neaps and tatties, filled baked potatoes, steak pie, lasagne, chilli, curry etc. are available at reasonable prices.  
Views around the bar
  Cask beers (liable to change) at reasonable prices include Boddingtons, Directors, Bombadiers, Theakstons, Pedigree and McEwans 80/- are served by a friendly barman with handlebar moustache. A large selection of malt whiskies is available. This is definitely a popular bar with the clientele consisting mainly of regulars, businessmen and younger people alike.  
See what our visitors say
Click here to add a comment.

Colin T. Elder
Sad memory still of what had been a lovely time !
Perhaps 2004 or thereabouts, which can be verified by the management as the following incident was related the following day by a hand-delivered letter, the following experience happened. I had entered this establishment around 2.30p.m. one day, and perhaps was only one of no more than a handful of other customers. I was greeted by a young bar-tender and had a pint of Guinness, as I remember, sitting at the bar enjoying conversation with the bar-tender. Having left my mother literally across the other side of the street at Jamaica Mews, I left as my intention was to ascertain whether I felt I would like to take my mother across to the bar, who is a lady who has just turned ninety-five years old. Five to ten minutes later my mother and I entered and sat away from the bar enjoying each other's company, and our craic. By around five o'clockish the bar became busier, particuliar as it was nearing the end of some business employees working day. My mother and I had several drinks in an ordered and even fashion and a table to our right became occupied by three, perhaps four respectable younger ladies. After they had sat there for fifteen or twenty minutes or so as they were on my immediate right-hand side I happened to make a civil comment to which they responded happily and another by me to which there was laughter. That was the end of any exchange. I was there to be there with my mother, and had no need of any other company, being always open to persons entering ours should it happen, with grace. When I next went to the bar to order another drink for ourselves, a new bar-tender who had come on duty around five o'clock after serving, said ' could I stay in my own company '. I was bewildered by this but made no mention of it to my mother. Around six thirty time my mother required to go to the toilet, and I escorted her there as there were stairs to it and she did not know where to go anyway. I waited in that ante-room and eventually perched myself on the cushioned window-sill patiently waiting for my mother. Two young gentlemen who were enjoying their conversation after a few moments acknowledged the fact that I was there, so we exchanged pleasantries, and fell silent. Whilst still waiting for my mother the bar-tender appeared at this section and removed some empty glasses and said, ' I thought I said to stay in your own company ', to which I made no response, as he walked away. I escorted my mother back to our seats. A few minutes later I returned to the bar and ordered, and was served. Eventually I returned to the bar once again and was told ' I was not being served '. On my return I discreetly mentioned to my mother, in time, what the situation was, and so eventually we left.

This type of behaviour should never be acceptable. What issue the bar-tender had I do not know I did not ask him. All I should like to end this tale is by saying I am not in the habit of being asked to leave a licensed premises. Indeed I have been known to be encouraged to stay by an establishment's ambience.

I have never returned to this bar !

In every tale there is a story, I trust you never have to tell yours.
Tuesday, June 20, 2017
Rating: rosettes

Can agree enough
Further to the comments left by previous patron. I am still at a loss to work out how you go from asking dog to shut up to being a gay basher!!!
Maybe the dog owners need to be more In tune with there dog than there sexuality?

It is people like that.that give the gay Comunity a bad name
Monday, November 7, 2011
Rating: rosettes

Ed Coxon
Yapping dog owned by irksome Gay man???
The comments made by the gentleman about his young yapping dog are curious to daft - where is the correlation between the patrons dissatisfaction about having to remove a noisy dog (a totally reasonable request) and the suggestion/allegation that the bar tender has shown disquiet at the customer's sexual orientation??? A preposterous notion with no foundation whatsoever - idiotic and self indulgent oversensitive clap trap - Kay's is an excellent establishment and continues to this day even after 25 years of patronage!!
Sunday, November 6, 2011
Rating: rosettes

Pets not welcome!
Having visited Kays for many years with and without a dog; I was recently asked to leave because my dog made a noise!!!! Said dog was being petted by STAFF and other patrons and being young is apt to yap and play when petted - to be asked by staff to leave because he made a noise after staff had been causing him to be playful rather begs belief... (it was an un-recognised barman, who seemed none too keen on having gay men in the pub.....)

My house overlooks Kays and I've always been tolerant of the odd noisey episode, but in future I will note and report every episode of antisocial behaviour to the relevant authorities.

A sad decline in a once grand local institution.
Friday, September 23, 2011
Rating: No rosettes

The Moustache is back
Not as long as it once was but you can still put a worm on it and use 'Fritz' as a fishing lure. Great beer and I love the guest ales. It give me a chance to try a few new and often obscure ales.
Monday, September 14, 2009
Rating: rosettes

Iain Hamilton
First class bar
Excellent real ale in Edinburgh's finest bar. Friendly staff and tasty snacks and rolls. The only place to watch International Rugby if you are not lucky enough to have a ticket.
Monday, August 10, 2009
Rating: rosettes

barmans moustache is back! friendly though well-to-do patrons from edinburghs rugby set. didn't want to leave and will definetly return
Friday, February 13, 2009
Rating: rosettes

Iain Duncan
Best Bar, Bar none
Fraser, Pints, Biltong...Happy
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Rating: rosettes

Andrew Kane
A real pub
A top pub. I usually visit Edinburgh a couple of times each year and always head to Kays Bar for great ale and excellent value food. Haggis neaps and tatties make me very happy!
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Rating: rosettes

Steve McKenzie
Best Bar In The World!!
Great beer, great staff,great wine & great company. Miss it like crazy.
Monday, January 15, 2007
Rating: rosettes

Neil Mitchell
A Great Experience
A pub where you can leave the cares of the world outside and get lost in conversation with friends with a great real ale in your hand. Cozy and relaxed.
Sunday, January 14, 2007
Rating: rosettes

Bar manager no longer has a funny looking mustache
Though I've never actually been there
Friday, October 13, 2006
Rating: rosettes

Nick Fawcett
Loved it
It was years ago that I visited Edinburgh - but I still talk about this pub. Living in South Africa, I miss all the decent cask beers. Brett Riverboat is obviously not all there. If he doesn't like the size of the place - don't go there. I would kill for another visit!!
Friday, August 4, 2006
Rating: rosettes

The Best Wee Boozer in Edinburgh
Fantastic small pub in edinburgh, at least 6 guest ales, plus IPA onsite. Try and go there to have a good pint from either Atlas or Harviestoun's and you're in for a good time. Excellent bar staff, shame about the tv on blink during last 10 mins of sweden v T&T ha ha.
Monday, June 19, 2006
Rating: rosettes

Michael Grant
A prince amongst pubs.
Real ale - good malt - good food -best pub in Scotland
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Rating: rosettes

The best bar in the world! nice folk and even better beer, best looking staff in Edinburgh! ;)
Friday, September 9, 2005
Rating: rosettes

Brett Riverboat
Too small
Bar Manager has a funny moustache.
Tuesday, April 6, 2004
Rating: rosettes

Contact us

Kays Bar
39 Jamaica Street West

Contact:David Mackenzie
Tel: 0131 225 1858
See Map


Thursday, January 27, 2022

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