Raise a Glass to the Pubs: Rating the Pub Scene of St Andrews

Sarah analyses the beloved pub scene of St Andrews, rating the best spots for a brew or a G&T.

As much as our town is adored for the picturesque university buildings, the seaside and the fish and chips, there is something that most tourists are missing out on that I believe only we as students can fully appreciate: the pubs! St Andrews nightlife is far from what many other university students would expect but uniquely ours. Pub crawls and pub golf are more popular than ever considering how many pubs we have spread across three streets. Each of our pubs give off such different vibes and serve to please almost anyone somewhere. Therefore, in this article I will rate a handful of our town’s many pubs, giving recommendations for drinks and what type of mood each place suits, to save you from awkwardly walking out after just sitting down. I do apologize if I have missed your go-to place, but you would be surprised how many pubs I would have to include in order to please everyone – after all, I am still a university student amid deadlines!

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Aikman’s

Aikman’s is probably one of our most surprising pubs in town. With two levels to sit or stand in, you can always find somewhere to squeeze in – and by squeeze, I mean squeezing against people, considering how busy it can be on a Friday night. Despite this, it gives off the atmosphere of a warm local pub, and with no loud music playing overhead, it is the perfect place for a casual and well-priced drink with your friends if you aren’t in the mood to have a big night out. Aikman’s has one of the more limited drinks menus – particularly specialising in European beers – but, considering the prices and how small the actual venue is, it does make sense. My drink recommendation for Aikman’s is a spiced rum with apple juice. This drink tastes warm and comforting to mirror the vibe of the pub. Drinking this, you will be able to savour just one and enjoy the flow of the conversation, or it can act like a refreshment at the very start of your night. Overall, Aikman’s scores a 3/5 stars, only losing points for its lack of seating and room.

 

Source: Google Street View.

 

St. Andrews Brewing Company

The St Andrews Brewing Company – more commonly known as Brew Co. – is, like Aikman’s, a more relaxed atmosphere that is perfect for casual catch-up drinks. Despite being slightly drafty during the colder months, the seating is all very adjustable for whatever size of group you come with. They mostly sell beers and ciders, with a few spirits behind the bar, so again the selection is slightly more limited – but it is a specialized pub after all. There is no music playing in the background and what mostly can be heard is other people’s conversation, making it the perfect place for everyone who loves to eavesdrop on other people’s drama like myself. For Brew Co., I would recommend getting the Thistly Cross cider. While I am not a big beer drinker personally, Brew Co.’s ciders are fantastic, and the staff are more than happy to recommend any beer or cider from the selection that they have. Overall, Brew Co. scores another 3/5 stars, based solely on personal bias.

 

Source: Google Street View.

 

Central Bar

The Central is an all-rounder. Not only do they have great heating for all of those university students who are struggling to pay their electricity bills, but in the summer they also have outdoor seating with a view of bustling Market Street. Although there is limited space, the vibe of the space is always very upbeat, with the bar ironically or fittingly being the centre of the room, so that you can see the whole selection of drinks from wherever you are sitting. I’ve found that the Central probably has the biggest selection of drinks, especially for beers on draft. Again, the Central is often very busy but can serve as the perfect place for a lunchtime pint. In honor of this, the drink recommendation for Central Bar is a draft beer of your choice, in order to fully appreciate a pint and a pub. Central Bar scores 4/5 stars, winning the title of best bar on Market Street.

 

Source: Google Street View.

 

The Criterion

The Criterion is one of the fancier pubs in town but only to its benefit. With heated outdoor seating and attentive bar staff, it is the ideal pub experience enjoyed by students and locals alike. The music playing in the background is quiet enough to hold a conversation, and the ambience of the pub is comforting, with dim lighting that is warm and inviting. Criterion does the usual bar drinks and has many options on draft while also offering some of the best cocktails in St Andrews and an impressive selection of gins. Therefore, my drink recommendation for The Criterion is an espresso martini, which is arguably better than in The Adamson. Another important factor for The Criterion is that their savoury pies are truly out of this world, scoring the pub a well-deserved 5/5.

 

Source: Google Street View.

 

Molly Malone’s

Molly Malone’s is always busy, whether it is a Friday or Saturday night, or if the rugby or football is on. Knowing this, when these events are on, Molly’s is the place to be. With a fun and exciting energy that makes the St Andrews community feel that much closer, the pub also occasionally hosts live music sessions which are always entertaining, especially when some students perform. As far Irish pubs go, Molly Malone’s is pretty basic, but basic has never been bad. In fact, a night in Molly’s can be some of the best in town, with loads of seating, room to chat, and of course, music playing, so that whatever kind of night you want you can have. With respect to it being an Irish pub, my drink recommendation is a Baby Guinness – the best shot to exist – giving Molly Malone’s a 4/5 rating.

 

Source: Google Street View.

 

The Rule

The Rule is one of the busiest and most popular pubs in St Andrews, and for a clear reason. There is so much room to go in big groups, and with plenty of upstairs seating if you are looking for something slightly quieter. The Rule also plays football for certain games, which always attracts large crowds. The pub hosts many music events with local DJ collectives, which normally sell out too. The Rule is a much busier night out compared to the other pubs, but sometimes this is exactly what you might be in the mood for. With loud popular music playing, it can be so much fun, whether you’re there for just one drink or until the pub closes. The only downside to The Rule is that it can sometimes take ages to get served – therefore my final drink recommendation is whatever your drink of choice is, to hopefully speed the queue up faster. Overall, The Rule scores a 4/5 stars.

 

Source: Google Street View.

 

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After rating all of these pubs in St Andrews, I must acknowledge that there are many people who not only do not drink but also don’t like the environment in pubs – which is not to be shamed or excluded at all. There are many things to do in St Andrews at night. Forgan’s hosts weekly ceilidhs which are always busy and embraces the local Scottish culture. You can also come up with your activities with friends, like sitting in the quad and looking at the stars and colored lights over the college buildings, or going down to West Sands and walking across the Old Course. To conclude, the only right way to read this article is to rate the pubs for yourself. Everyone is looking for something different, and I can bet that in our numerous pubs, you can find whatever that something is.

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