The building became a pub in 1811, then a confectioners by 1843, returning to pub use in 1893. It is a small, no-frills affair which has become something of an Edinburgh institution. At the front left is a tiny stand-up bar with just two window benches seating about four people, and a few stools. There is an old fireplace on the far left, partly covered up by the counter and thus predating the existing servery arrangements. The simple mirrored gantry may date from the late 19th-century and has been added to with some basic shelving. Up three steps and through the doorway on the right is a sitting room with shutters. It also has a (possibly) 1950s brick fireplace and an old mirror promoting Murray’s Pale Ale. One of the historic photos on the wall shows former landlord William Ross, who refused to serve women and Englishmen, and anyone ordering a lager would be instantly barred! It became renowned as one of the favourite pubs of fictional detective Inspector Rebus and his creator, author Ian Rankin.
This small basic pub built in 1811 is the least altered pub in Edinburgh - it is much as it was in the late 19th century. Can you spot those customers and people behind the bar on whom Ian Rankin based his characters in the Inspector Rebus novels? If not, just ask and they will tell you. The tiny stand-up bar in the front left of the pub, with no tables or chairs, and just two sets of bare window seating for about four people set in the dark wood dado panelling on the nicotine-mustard walls just as it was. There is an old fireplace on the far left partly covered up by the bar itself. The pub looks full with a dozen or so customers in it. The mirrored gantry, which has a noticeable slope and some added shelves, dates from the late 19th century, as does the bar counter, but the bar top is a replacement.
Note the old 'Bernard's India Pale Ale' cemented-on lettering on the upper front window - only one letter has been lost. Up three steps and through the doorway on the right is a basic, dimly-lit sitting room with shutters on the windows. There is a 1950s brick fireplace and an old 'Murray's Pale Ale' mirror. On the wall of the sitting room is a photo of the bar and former landlord William Ross, who refused to serve women and Englishmen, and anyone ordering a lager would be instantly barred!