Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.

Society night out: Putting four of Aberdeen’s newest bars to the test

A line of cocktail glasses on a bar
Team Society headed out for a night of cocktails, but which venue got top marks?

Are Team Society friends outside of the office?

Of course we are! Hailing from different corners of the country and with vastly different lives, that hasn’t stopped us from becoming the best of pals.

One thing we all have in common, is our love for the north-east.

It’s one thing to bring you the very best of Aberdeen and the Shire. But it’s important to us that we really know what we’re talking about.

And the only way you can do that, is by lived experience.

With that in mind, we decided a Society night out was well overdue.

Alongside the plucky Society trio, was the man behind the scenes. David Dalziel is head of features, and makes sure that each and every edition of Society is expertly put together.

This wasn’t just any night out however, we wanted to put the four latest bars in Aberdeen to the test.

Further more, we decided to focus completely on cocktails. From the classics to the whackiest concoctions, we tried it all. Well, almost.

I opted for mocktails as I was driving, but I was also curious to see what non-alcoholic offerings were available outside the traditional soft drink.

Tee-total is an increasingly common choice, and one which the most modern of venues should surely be catering for?

From having to ask for mocktail menus, to feebly sipping on what was essentially crushed ice, I soon discovered that Aberdeen really needs to up its mocktail game.

We visited Barbelow, Back to Square One, The Old Workshop and Faffless.

Read on to find out what Team Society thought of the new kids on the block.


We were pretty excited to visit Barbelow, which only opened in March this year.

Run by the duo behind Aberdeen’s Olive Alexanders, the basement venue is the city’s latest wine and cocktail bar.

Based within the former Miro’s Bar at Golden Square which formed part of the Granite Park restaurant, it’s a pretty central spot and has parking on the doorstep if you’re not drinking.

We were immediately impressed as we walked through the door, Bar Below is effortlessly trendy without appearing overdone.

A pink and yellow neon sign reading "barbelow"

It has been decked out with quirky and antique items picked up at auction and estate lets, with a very Instagrammable green and pink colour scheme.

Despite the fact we were a little late for our reservation, the staff were very polite and accommodating.

There were plenty of tables to choose from, although it did get steadily busier as the night wore on.

A table in the Barbalow bar with gold chairs with forest green cushions

We had already lined our stomachs at The Pig’s Wings, which we would highly recommend, but the small plates menu at Bar Below looked mighty enticing.

Marmalade baked goats cheese or cauliflower wings, we vowed to return in order to sample such delicious offerings.

But to the drinks, there are a fair few cocktails to choose from, plus a cocktail-trained bar team to deliver the goods.

Prices were pretty normal, ranging from £8 to £9.50.

Our impressive array of cocktails from Barbelow.
Our impressive array of cocktails from Barbelow.

Jamie ordered a watermelon jalapeno margarita, David settled on Summer in Atlantis and Rosemary liked the sound of Stormy Paris, which featured ginger beer, Green Chartreuse and Havana No.3.

There was no mocktail menu, but the waitress said they could do something pretty special with a raspberry infusion.

Our drinks arrived quickly and got the mark of approval.

The watermelon jalapeno had a nip at the back of the throat, while Summer in Atlantis looked like a posh WKD, with an apple garnish.

Rosemary loved the addition of lime in her glass and found it very moreish.

A red cocktail in a unique cocktail glass with a strawberry garnish
Top marks for presentation at Barbelow.

Both myself and David felt our drinks were quite heavy on the ice however. And whilst my mocktail was ok, there wasn’t all that much flavour.

I’d like to see a mocktail menu, given there is an extensive list of alcoholic offerings.

We couldn’t fault the service or the atmosphere however. This is the perfect place for drinks after work, or date night with laid back vibes.

Back to Square One

Just round the corner within Golden Square is Back to Square one, an altogether different venue.

Festooned with Mean Girl Quotes, blossom trees and flower walls, this is the place to be when you want the ultimate shot for the gram, complete with velvet booths.

The menu features bruschetta and buffalo chicken, alongside cocktails and craft beers.

The decor in the Back to Square One bar, featuring a rose wall and velvet armchairs
Back to Square One is the perfect venue for girls night out.

Cocktails are priced at £8.90, with classics alongside the likes of cucumber lemonade and gooseberry sour.

Again, there was no mocktail menu, and the waitress was quite vague by saying I could order “anything’.”

Jamie ordered a Tropical Spritz, which consisted of mango and lime gin served with passionfruit puree and prosecco, topped with lemonade.

A purple neon sign reading "You can't sit with us", a quote from the movie 'Mean Girls'
Mean Girls inspired interiors at Back to Square One.

Rosemary kept things traditional with a French martini and David selected a pornstar martini.

I was served a raspberry concoction, clearly the in thing in the mocktail world.

Whilst Rosemary declared her drink to be the best French Martini she’d had to date, Jamie was left less impressed.

His drink was more lemonade than gin, whereas David’s drink reminded him of “a dessert in a glass.”

My mocktail was neither here nor there, and I felt staff needed to be more in the know on non-alcoholic offerings.

Back to Square One is a lively venue however, definite girls’ night out territory.

The Old Workshop

We were all pretty excited about this venue, and it more than lived up to expectations.

Found within Shiprow Village, it opened in December last year.

Thread your way through The Ivy Lodge, which is classic night-out fodder, and you’ll find a candle-lit tunnel with exposed brick walls and cute bistro-style tables.

The rectangular bar in The Old Workshop in front of a shelf of glass bottles
The Old Workshop impressed Team Society.

We were warmly greeted and immediately charmed by the cocktail menu, with all cocktails priced at £8.50.

Hey Pedro, Betsy Ross, would order for the names alone.

Rosemary and Jamie both ordered Maui Tiki, and David went for Paloma Spritz.

A running theme for the evening, no mocktail menu.

The tunnel-like venue with the bar, tables and chairs
This venue is ideal for date night.

General manager, Milo Smith, who is well known in Aberdeen’s hospitality industry, was very accommodating however.

He appeared genuinely excited when I said I wanted a mocktail, and practically sprinted back to the bar.

Don’t ask me what the mixture was because I haven’t a clue. I do know that it contained edible paint, and it was the best mocktail I’ve had to date.

Milo Smith, of The Old Workshop, behind his bar
Milo Smith, of The Old Workshop, clearly loves experimenting with different concoctions.

Not too much ice, not too sweet. Was a complete delight.

The Paloma Spritz was served in a coke can, David could taste the tequila but didn’t find it too overpowering.

Meanwhile, there were plenty of oohs and ahhs from Jamie and Rosemary thanks to the bar tender’s trick of a blow torch and subsequent blue flame.

There was also a delicious kick to the drink.

The Old Workshop is the perfect spot for date night, and I haven’t stopped recommending it since our visit.


Our final stop for the night was Faffless, a quirky bar found at Netherkirkgate.

25-year-old owner Craig Thom has thrown away the rule book, and likes to keep things simple.

Quirky decor in the Faffless bar including a black and white striped floor, wooden palette bar and colourful framed prints
Faffless is an intimate and quirky venue.

This extends to having no official cocktail menu, rather you just ask for what you like.

Craig was on a mission to challenge old grudges, after David confessed to not being a huge fan of whisky.

A unique wooden table with a potted plant and colourful prints on the wall
The venue is part cafe, part bar and part art gallery.

He was served a powerful drink consisting of whisky, absinthe and martini, which came in at 65%.

Jamie meanwhile, was persuaded to give Negroni a second chance, having sampled it in its origins of Italy with little fanfare.

A collection of colourful cocktails
Faffless is ideal for an intimate evening.

Rosie had a mango daiquiri, and I was served a mocktail called New York.

Whilst David’s thoughts on whisky remain unchanged, Jamie loved his Negroni.

Rosie was also very complimentary of her daiquiri, and found it refreshing and expertly presented.

My mocktail didn’t blow me away, but it was nonetheless pleasant to sip on.

We felt very relaxed at Faffless, it’s a quirky and intimate venue prone to many different guises.

We’d love to go back for wine tasting, or perhaps an open mic night.