Hidden below ground in the heart of Edinburgh’ New Town, Hoot the Redeemer takes an original approach to the speakeasy concept.
Instead of going the Prohibition route, Hoot the Redeemer sends you back to the 1950’s, with a setting reminiscing of a funfair of the time, complete with fortune telling machines, vintage magician posters, Tarot cards paintings and, of course, fair games and popcorn.
I took a seat on the comfortable old leather couch facing the entrance from which I had a good view of the entire bar.
The menu is printed in retro font on a laminated table set. On one side are the “Time Warp “cocktails, the cocktail slushies, the sharing cocktail of the month and Señor Scoop’s alcoholic ice creams.
Yes, alcoholic ice cream cocktails. The father of one of Hoot’s founders was in the ice cream business so it was only natural for his son to combine his two passions together: alcohol and ice creams. Ten flavours are on offer and can be bought from a vending machine inside the bar. Flavours include: Planet Peanut (Disaronno, Reyka vodka & Peanut butter), Oreos over Dublin (Bailey’s, Chocolate, Oreos & Guiness syrup), Victorian Strawberry (Hendricks gin, Strawberries & Shortbread) and Peachy Bucky Bru Sorbet (Buckfast, Reyka vodka, Irn Bru & Peaches).
The menu lists ten “Time Warp” cocktails and three cocktail slushies (a Corpse Reviver Number Blue – Tanqueray Gin, Lillet Blanc, Blue Curacao and Lemon juice -, a Cosmopolitan and the slushy of the month).
Some of the house drinks’ names keep with the funfair/magician concept, with names such as the Long Tack Sam (Martin Millers gin, Lychee syrup, Raspberry, Lemon and Egg white), a nod to a Chinese-born American magician, acrobat, and vaudeville performer; the Mystic Ball (Midori, Ketel One vodka, Fresh pineapple, Lemon and a splash of Absinthe) or Zoltar’s Wish (Monkey Shoulder whisky, Cacao nib & Lemon syrup and Chocolate bitters), a reference to the Zoltar fortune teller machine.
Other drinks’ names are wordplays on the drinks’ ingredients or taste. For example, the Banana Tease is made of banana syrup mixed with Havana 7 rum, Claret reduction, Lemon, Barrel aged bitters and Coffee) and the Bounty Castle reminds the Bounty chocolate bar with its use of Koko Kanu (a Jamaican rum with coconut flavour), Mozart Dark Chocolate liqueur, Milk, Cream, Ardberg rinse, Barrell aged bitters and Xocolati bitters. Finally, the Papa Don’t Peach, the drink I went for, uses Peach Syrup and mixes it with Evan Williams 1783 bourbon, Aperol, Lime, Angostura bitters and Ginger beer. This cocktail was very light and refreshing. Perfect after a long day walking around Edinburgh.
If you don’t find anything to your fancy on the menu, there is another option: the “Pinch n’Sip”. Just as in a funfair, try your luck at a claw crane machine. Instead of playing for a toy, your goal is to get a ball representing the flavour you want your drink to have. Once you have it, head to the bar, choose your spirit, let the bartender make something for you, pay the rest of your drink and enjoy!
The menu’s backside is a board game with challenges such as “offer a round of shots”, ” get a slushy” or “get an ice cream” on the cases.
The atmosphere was friendly with a good mix of regulars, a dog, newcomers and tourists. The service was attentive with the server coming regularly to refill my water. A funny last touch was the fortune teller fish accompanying the bill. I really liked the bars funfair concept and the decor. I would have been curious to try some more cocktails – probably a slushy – and one of the ice creams. As the saying goes: next time!