Cocktails are everywhere around the Fringe Festival. Pop up bars and pubs are seemingly there in every direction. Not all of them are immediately obvious though. We headed to a speakeasy hidden underground just off Hanover Street – Hoot The Redeemer.
Appearing as an extended doorway of the adjacent Bella Italia, you wouldn’t even know that this was the entrance to a bar. A quick walk down a flight of stairs to the bottom brings you face to face with a fortune teller. Behind the fortune teller is the door to gain entry to the bar.
If quirky is your thing then Hoot The Redeemer is your place. We loved the small, intimate atmosphere. Heading to the bar, the staff were so nice and welcoming. With the Fringe being on we were glad to have reserved a table, highly recommended as this is a popular place.
The theme of the menu is based around tarot. The cocktail menu reads like a pack of cards. There are also cocktail slushies, ice creams and even options to put your trust in the hands of the barman. A large grabber machine is a popular choice for those of an indecisive nature.
By operating the machine, you can grab a ball that has the ingredients within it for a cocktail, or a certain flavour. Take that to the bar and the staff will knock up a cocktail using those ingredients.
Narrowing down our choice of cocktail from the tarot cards menu was tricky – all of them sounded so good. In the end we went for ‘The Lovers’ which was a blend of apple brandy, creme de cacao, rose syrup, lemon juice, prosecco and bitters.
I was feeling devilish so I went for ‘Death’. A cocktail consisting of bourbon, benadictine, cherry brandy, sherry blend, bitters and coffee mist. Table service is available but during quieter periods ordering from the bar is a lot easier.
Our cocktails arrived looking simple and in keeping with the style of the venue. The Lovers cocktail had a pronounced fruity punch with a really good balance running through the flavours. Death wasn’t going to let me off lightly – this cocktail was incredibly strong. It tasted like cherry meets sherry, definitely one to drink at a slower pace.
A unique feature of Hoot The Redeemer is alcoholic ice cream. Made fresh daily, the ice cream comes in the form of a cocktail. Each tub costs £4 and is dispensed via a vending machine by the bar. This is something completely new to us.
There are a lot of different combinations to choose from but we settled on ‘Edinburgh Rocks’ containing whisky, honeycomb and salted caramel. To go with that we got an ‘Espresso Martini’ ice cream out of the machine. A mix of vodka, coffee liqueur and espresso.
Each ice cream comes in a little pot with a small spoon (more of a shovel) secreted within the lid. The flavours of each ice cream are epic and go really well with a cocktail. The staff also bring over a unique flavour of popcorn which was lime and chilli on our visit.
The bar began to fill up but this is one of those places that you can stretch your legs out and just relax in for ages. The staff are attentive and always ask if you would like more drinks. Considering this was a small room full of festival goers, the noise levels were perfect.
As always though, there comes a point when you have to drag yourself out of your comfy seat and head for the exit. A final bill of £17 for the cocktails plus £8 that we had spent on the ice cream machine was a decent total for the experience.
Hoot The Redeemer is something completely unique in our experience of cocktail bars. It’s like going back in time with added twists to bring out your inner child-like enthusiasm. It may be tricky to find but once you do, you will be glad that you took the time to look.
Opening Times: Monday-Friday 1600-0100, Saturday & Sunday 1500-0100
Nearest Train Station: Edinburgh Waverley