With a history of mythological proportions to live up to, the modern cosmopolitan city of Glasgow has a thriving nightlife. Then again, was it ever any different? Perhaps unsurprisingly, Glasgow city council makes more information available to its citizens on alcohol and drugs related issues than any other in the UK.
Like many cities, at some of the bars you’ll literally see people falling out of them and, it is rumoured, you can also occasionally still see people come flying out them. The city centre is to say the least, vibrant at night-time and a good night out is often judged by the noise being generated, more noise equalling a better night out! Many city centre bars have been refurbished to move away from the image of ‘spit and sawdust’ that stereotypes them.
Whilst the style of the bars might have changed the atmosphere of unpretentiousness and ‘let the good times roll’ hasn’t. The trendiest and smoothest bars are in the ‘Merchant’ area, on the east side of the city centre, near the Cathedral.
Bars and Pubs:
It would seem fitting for Glasgow to have a pub claiming to have the longest bar in the UK. The Horseshoe on Drury Lane is that pub, although there is a pub in Birmingham that would dispute this. A legendary pub in Glasgow renowned for its cheap and good value lunches, it also serves a good selection of lagers and real ales.
Winner of what, to non-Scots, must seem the silliest pub name in Glasgow is the Babbity Bowster on Blackfriars Street. This is the pub to go to in the city centre for a relaxing drink – a rare opportunity in Glasgow. Outdoors there’s a garden, barbecue and boules area; whilst in the winter you can sit inside by the peat fire and enjoy a meal with a drink or two. This pub has quite a refined ambience and is mainly frequented by Glasgow’s professionals and tourists. Interestingly a Babbity Bowster is a Scottish dance.
There is, of course, the inevitable Wetherspoon’s drinking cathedral in the city. The Crystal Palace, on Jamaica Street near the Central Station, is actually the second largest pub in the city; which occupies a building that was formerly a furniture store and still retains the original ‘cage’ lift. This pub attracts an interesting night-time mixture of clubbers, theatre-goers and locals.
Blackfriars, on Bell Street in the ‘Merchant City’ quarter of Glasgow , is by all accounts probably the best bar in Glasgow. Variously described as being “a soothing spot for a drink” and having “a cosy atmosphere” this is a metropolitan bar that is unselfconscious about providing what its clientele wants. Low lighting supplemented with candles set the scene and ambience on your entry to this bar. This is one of the few bars in Glasgow where you can sit and chat without shouting, also some excellent jazz bands play there at week-ends.
Nothing to do with battered and deep fried ‘Mars bars’ etc; is a restaurant of fine repute in Glasgow – the Ubiquitous Chip. Located on Ashton Lane, to the west of the city centre and above the main University of Glasgow campus, it is noted for its use of local Scottish produce such as Ayrshire lamb, Dumfries rabbit or Perth woodpigeon. There’s a pricey restaurant downstairs and a less expensive bistro upstairs; a three course dinner in the restaurant will cost £40 per head or in the bistro around £25 per head – prices exclude drinks of course. Ubiquitous Chip has one of the best wine lists in the UK, let alone Glasgow. With plenty of decent wines in the £20 to £30 range, you could also indulge yourself with say a 1989 Chateau Beychevelle Claret at £140 a bottle. After the meal the list of malt whiskies is as comprehensive as the wine list, the apex of which is a 25 year old Mcallan at over £25 a measure.
At completely the other end of the spectrum, with outlets on Buccleuch Street and Ashton Lane, is the Wee Curry Shop. You can get a three course dinner here for around £10 in this Indian restaurant, that is acknowledged as serving some of the best curries north of the border.
The undoubted capital of Scotland’s live music scene – Glasgow has such famous venues as; King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut on St Vincent Street and Barrowlands on the Gallowgate. Both of these venues have hosted appearances by most of the top modern music acts in Britain over the recent decades. The top line touring acts use the Scottish Exhibition & Conference Centre, in the west of the city. Other major venues in Glasgow include; the Royal Concert Hall, the City Halls and the Old Fruit Market.
For clubbers ‘Arches’ on Argyle Street is probably the place to head for, it regularly books the best DJs/MCs in Europe. The Theatre Royal in Glasgow is on Hope Street. As well as staging dramas and musicals it is the home of Scottish Opera and Scottish Ballet.