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March 1, 2019

Burlington Bros Casting Agency opened on Edinburgh's Tarvit Street at the beginning of January.

To say there wasn't much fanfare is a something of an understatement.

Like many of Edinburgh's coolest cocktail bars, it keeps a low profile.

In fact, your correspondent walked past it last week without even noticing it was there.

It is in the former Burlington Bertie's bar, just around the corner from the King's Theatre in Tollcross.

The 'casting agency' part of the name is rather apt since, were you to listen closely from the bar, you could probably hear the cast of the theatre declaiming on stage.

It is a sister bar to Bullard and Mack, formerly Bryant and Mack, on Rose Street North Lane.

Like Bullard and Mack, the new joint promises 'attentive and personable service... as well as some very quaffable beverages'.

Speakeasy vibe

Bullard and Mack: move along, nothing to see here. Or is there?

Bullard and Mack: move along, nothing to see here. Or is there?

Bryant and Mack's original full name was Bryant and Mack Detective Agency. Tucked away behind frosted glass and with a peeling front door, it looked like a down-at-heel private eye's office that maybe hadn't had much business over the last few years.

There was/is little to indicate that it is a cocktail bar. Or even open.

It was seemingly designed not to be found.

Or at least, it was only to be found by those in the know.

There is a similar vibe about Bramble, the venerable Edinburgh cocktail bar which sits in an unmarked basement space underneath a tailor's shop on the corner of Queen Street and Hanover Street.

At the other end of Queen Street, Panda and Sons cocktail bar is entered via a basement bookcase.

Of course, it all harks back to the speakeasy bars of Prohibition era America when booze was banned and you had to be in the know if you wanted to be in your cups.

Police raids are rather less likely these days but the slightly clandestine nature of many of Edinburgh's cocktail bars still gives them a certain frisson.