Deacon Brodie's Tavern occupies a prime location on the corner between Lawnmarket, part of the Royal Mile, and Bank Street, one of the main thoroughfares up from Princes Street. It is named after Deacon William Brodie, the man who inspired Robert Louis Stevenson's novel The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.
Deacon Brodie (1741-88) was a respected cabinet-maker and a member of the Town Council, and Deacon (head) of the Incorporation of Wrights and Masons. But Brodie lived a double life, developing an expensive lifestyle including mistresses and gambling that he could only support through a secret life of crime.
As a respected craftsman, part of Brodie's day job involved manufacturing and repairing locks. It became his practice to take copies of all the keys involved so that he could return some time later with accomplices as part of his night job.
Brodie's downfall followed an armed raid on His Majesty's Excise Office on Edinburgh's Canongate. One of the gang was caught red handed and although Brodie escaped to the Netherlands he was arrested in Amsterdam and returned to Scotland for trial. Brodie was found guilty after a search of his home revealed his stock of duplicate keys and he was sentenced to hang at Edinburgh's Tolbooth on 1 October 1788. Brodie bribed the hangman to ignore a steel collar Brodie was wearing, designed to keep him alive for long enough to be revived after the hanging. It failed, however, and both of Brodie's double lives were over.
Deacon Brodie's Tavern has two floors, the bar downstairs and the restaurant upstairs. A full menu is offered in the restaurant, with bar food available downstairs. There is a good selection of well kept real ales on offer, as well as a huge choice of single malt Scotch whiskies.
The pub is welcoming and the interior attractive, with an especially striking ceiling majoring on thistles and red rose motifs. The location ensures that this is a very popular pub with tourists passing along the Royal Mile, but it also attracts its fair share of local office workers and residents.