The illicit Barbershop

Every year the Fringe Festival takes over Edinburgh during the month of August. It’s an incredible festival with something for everyone and it brings the city to life. With all attention, tourists and entertainment on the go we decided to team up with Loca Bev and launched our first pop-up bar.

It made a lot of sense to work with Sam from Loca Bev. He’s doing some great work in the gin space and it allowed us to develop a menu that had a range of different styles of drinks…which was helpful as, sadly, not everyone is in to whisky. Minus-33, his first release, is also a great product that pairs well in a range of cocktails. All around, the right partnership for our pop-up.

Venue

Step one was picking a venue. The fact that we were planning to launch a pop-up meant that the interior couldn’t be changed much. Therefore, it was really important for us to work with a venue whose ethos matched ours and aesthetics fit with the brand. It was also important for us to select a location that had reasonable footfall as we would be attempting to transform an operational day-day business into a bar, so the exterior wouldn’t align with the signage possessed by most permanent bars.

With this in mind, we approached the guys at Rag & Bone Barbershop. They were founded in 2015 and have 3 venues in Edinburgh so far. One of their locations is on Jeffrey Street, a great spot right between Waverley and The Pleasance. It was the perfect location and the guys were open to exploring the possibility of transforming their barbershop into a pop-up bar. Step one, done.

Setup

Venue in place, we decided to open from 7pm to 1am each night, excluding a few Sundays. The timing worked very well as Rag & Bone Barbershop closed at 6:30pm, giving us 30 minutes to turn around the venue. With 4 barber chairs aligned along the main wall, it took both Sam (from Loca Bev), myself and our intern Pramay 10 minutes or so to carry the chairs through to the back, wipe down the surfaces and arrange the bar ready to serve up our drinks. We decided to go with an illicit barbershop theme and named each drink after a hairstyle. A few of our favourites are as follows:

    Buzzcut – a whisky espresso martini named after the buzz you get from coffee.
    Pompadour – a gin fizz with a freshly squeezed lemon juice base named after the upper class nature of the drink.
    Dreadlocks – a refreshing whisky highball made with Ting, a Caribbean grapefruit soda, named after the famous Jamaican style.

Next up, we needed some imagery to promote the bar and print out flyers. We wanted to capture the essence of a modern barbershop, perfectly placed for the modern man. The barbers were up for taking a few snaps and so we quickly put together some materials.

Doors open

Friday 3rd of August was opening night. We got off to a flying start with most of our tables full and the sound of cocktail shakers echoing throughout the barbershop. We learned a lot from the first night and quickly implemented it for the following night. Saturday was always going to be our busiest night and we were pleasantly surprised when the pop-up filled up from around 7:30pm right the way through to 12am. We had shots, dancing and a table of regulars. Come closing time, we had to gently ushers people from their seats to the exit.

The rest of the month flew by. The bar increased in popularity and we had some incredible conversations with people from around the world. The menu was well received and we had numerous requests to bottle the espresso martini. Maybe one for the future. For now, make sure to check out the guys at Rag & Bone Barbershop the next time you need a haircut. They’re a great group of guys and are insanely talented.

All in all, it was an unforgettable month as we worked with two amazing partners who we will definitely look to work with in the near future. For now, Fringe 2018 is in the past and we are looking forward to shaking things up with a number of events in the near future and something spectacular for Fringe 2019.

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