Ten things you won’t know unless you’ve been drinking in Glasgow’s West End

It’s like being weaned while waiting for Christmas. And the thought of being allowed out late hasn’t been so exciting since we were kids, either. Cautiously taking a 6pm seat at a beer garden in the west made us shiver at first, but now we can’t stop dreaming about sleepless nights.

From sub-crawls to karaoke, lock-ins to afters, we can’t wait for Glasgow’s post-midnight scene to come back to life.

And while the city center is home to some amazing places, if you’ve ever lived in the West End, you know there is nothing quite like dragging your friends to Oran Mor for one more ride or you. head to Great Western Road for a Pizza Fry.

Lingering until the wee hours is practically a West End specialty, whether you’re a student, hipster, or happy local and we can’t wait to see the days when we can all hang out once again.

But until then, let’s take a look at the places, past and present, that make drinking in the West End one of the best nightlife in the world.

Rub shoulders with local celebrities in Oran Mor

The Oran Mor is perhaps Glasgow’s most famous bar, since writer Alasdair Gray visited it and began painting a magnificent mural inside the converted church in 2003. The Art is amazing, but the stories here are the real draw: some nights Robbie Coltrane washes glasses of whiskey here, others regularly spot comedians Kevin Bridges or Frankie Boyle huddled in a corner. It’s also James McAvoy’s waterhole – and Ewan Mcgregor was a regular when he lived around the corner and Patti Smith had a drink here as well. Just like Joss Stone, Simply Red, James Grant, Dr Hook, The Proclaimers and Amy Winehouse and many more to mention them. You can order a drink here until 3 a.m. – and good luck hanging out your friends before the last orders. The last den of the last man standing, this renovated church on the corner of Byres Road is pretty much anything but a place of worship.



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In fact, all the ads are cracking

From the hipster haunts of Finnieston to the college students who crowd Ashton Lane, there is nothing better than finding your favorite West End booze and enjoying spending time in the den of your choice. Check out our guide to best bars in Glasgow and try a few. Find the one you like, bring some friends, maybe get to know the regulars a bit and soon walking through the doors of your new location will feel as comfortable as the tracksuits in 2020. For us at Glasgow Live we recommend the Belle of Great Western Road or Bar Gallus and Sparkle Horse in Partick as good places to start.



An under-exploration map
An under-exploration map

Under exploration

The Orange Clockwork can be a nightmare sometimes – who hasn’t come on a Sunday to find it already closed? – but there is a new way to take advantage of it. Join the students, deer, hens and revelers who stop for a drink at each stop along the line. It’s a great way to make a ride more bearable, we promise. This sub-crawl is so simple that it can be done in one go. It’s not that we advocate drinking pints, or even halves, in 15 stops per day. But when you’re with your best friends, maybe in disguise, it’s a great way to expand your knowledge of Glasgow pubs. The Incredible Inn Deep is a good place to start. The boozer next to Kelvinbridge station is always a good time, made better by the fact that you can always cheer a dog over there, while the Banana Moon across the road and cheap as the coopers are also recommended.



You've probably pledged eternal allegiance to one of the two unions
You’ve probably pledged eternal allegiance to one of the two unions

Go to Daft Friday

Licensing laws: bane of Glasgow’s restless student. Compared to many of our British neighbors (and don’t even get us started on our European counterparts), our city is closing pretty early, with most places closing around 12 noon in the west. But once a year the Glasgow University Union is offered a 24-hour license so students can party late into the night (and into the next day). The GUU is known for its 12-hour evenings, known as Daft Friday, on the last day of the term before students leave for their Christmas vacation. Every Glasgow Uni student worthy of their sleazy accent donned dancing shoes, settled in for the long haul, and triumphed over the union gates at 8 a.m., heels in one hand and free bacon in the other.

The stall

The crowded room below the Old School House is the perfect place to have a little fun. Scotland’s oldest comedy club is where big names try out all new material and new talent is discovered long before the Fringe (sorry, Edinburgh).



Chips, cheese or pizza?
Chips, cheese or pizza?

Carry

Glasgow’s food supply is plentiful and after dark is no exception. Some fried, some oozing with cheese, and all downright caloric. Whatever your preference, the West End has it all with its greasy selection of on-the-go gems. Steal about Finnieston? We love El Perro Negros’ modern take on classic beef creations, with brioche buns, secret sauces, and vegetarian alternatives. But for traditional food, you can’t beat Mario’s Plaice on Byres Road – worth it for the pun alone – or BBQ Kings on Great Western. No towel needed, just tuck it in.



Ubiquitous chip
Ubiquitous chip

Ubiquitous chip

Okay, The Chip is unlikely to be your regular – the prices alone will put an end to that notion – but for a special occasion, it’s spectacular. Located in the heart of the West End, just off Byres Road, this is a real Glasgow institution. The menu is fun, the drinks are decent and everything is delicious. This will be our first stop for a boozy dinner when the nightlife officially returns to Glasgow. We can’t think of a better place to celebrate.



Visiting Clatty Pats was a must do back then
Visiting Clatty Pats was a must do back then

Clatty Pats or Viper

Glasgow’s clubbing scene is truly global. From clubs that started out as tiny basements (hello Sub Club) to ones that have vanished but not forgotten (sob, Arches), a night out in the city center is unlike anything else. That said, downtown’s sky-high standards never quite got past the West End, unless you count SWG3, but that’s part of the charm. You can keep your Subby and your La Cheetah, because there’s nothing we wouldn’t give for an extra night on Viper’s Sticky Floors – or if you’re a certain age, Clatty Pats. The somewhat dirty corner of Great Western Road is really famous. Mention it to anyone who’s spent time in the West End and they are knowingly nodding – or maybe grinning – and with good reason. For years, it was an unofficial pilgrimage for students and yuppies in the west. If you haven’t spent hours sweating inside Viper or Cleopatras demanding ONE MORE TUNE, then you haven’t really experienced a night out in the West End.

Karaoke

Unless you can sing, karaoke tends to be either an excruciating exercise in embarrassment or a night spent envying those with talent. This is not the case in the west. At The Rock on Hyndland Road, where the crowds are friendly and the tunes strong, even the deaf can get up and try their hand.


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About Douglas Mackenzie

Douglas Mackenzie

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