The days of Al Capone and the American Moonshiners saw many establishments act as a front for illicit drinking dens during Prohibition in the US. Inspired by this period, Scottish drinks start-ups PeatReekers, Lindores Abbey Distillery and LocaBev have teamed up with Thomas J. Walls Coffee Shop to launch a 1920’s speakeasy-themed pop-up bar named The Blind Bear.
The concept is based on an itinerant entrepreneur called Thomas J. Walls, a budding optician who welcomes guests to marvel at the blind bear for 18 days only in August. He is secretly betting on guests’ vision becoming slightly impaired with each drink and hoping to sell them a pair of his finest frames to enhance their viewing experience of the spectacle.
During Prohibition, speakeasies would often sell tickets for an ‘animal show’ or event, which was accompanied with an alcoholic drink, as a pretext for selling alcohol. They were affectionately known as a ‘Blind Pig’ or ‘Blind Tiger’, as these were often the attractions advertised. Therefore, the pop-up’s name is fitting as the bear comes from the mascot of Lindores Abbey Distillery, the illicit theme from the PeatReekers brand story and the medical angle from LocaBev.
PeatReekers is an innovative new whisky company who have set out to tell the stories of the darker side of whisky. They do this through their first release, an Islay blended malt named Double Standard. Lindores Abbey is widely recognised as the earliest written reference to Scotch Whisky and Lindores Abbey Distillery are now bringing a very modern whisky-making approach to this ancient site. LocaBev is a gin company who set out to offer a premium gin that’s low in calories but bold in flavour, called Minus33.
The bar will be set inside Thomas J. Walls Coffee Shop at 35 Forrest Road. Doors will open at 8pm, after the coffee shop finishes daily business, and guests will be able to choose from an extensive range of optician-themed serves. Order a 20/20 and you’ll get a unique cocktail that includes all three spirits for the perfect summer serve. Or, order an Rx (the term used for a regular prescription) and pick from a list of recommended serves by each brand.
Calum Leslie, founder of PeatReekers, explained that he believes there is a huge opportunity for Edinburgh-based start-ups to showcase their products as the world gathers in the city for the Fringe Festival.
“Edinburgh comes alive in August and the surge in visitors brings huge opportunities for start-ups to pitch their products to visitors from around the world,” he said.
He continued, “From food & drink to tech, Edinburgh is establishing itself as a hub for innovation. We launched late 2017, and being based in Edinburgh has brought many advantages, namely giving us the chance to work on something special during the Fringe. A lot of our sales take place online, so having a physical space where people can experience our whisky is going to be incredible. Last year, we launched a pop-up with Rag & Bone Barbershop for the Festival and this year we’re hoping to build on our experience to offer something bigger and better”.
Calum launched PeatReekers in November, 2017 and has since gained over 100 on- and off-trade listings including Harvey Nichols, Tiger Lily, Rabble and Badger & Co. He joins Andrew Lennie from Lindores Abbey Distillery and Sam Trett of LocaBev in their partnership with Thomas J. Walls on their quest to offer some truly unique cocktails for Edinburgh Fringe go-ers.
Sam Trett said, “I’m very excited to showcase Minus-33 Gin alongside PeatReekers at arguably Edinburgh’s favourite coffee shop. Like PeatReekers, we’re keen to get our liquid in front of as many people as possible and demonstrate its potential both in a simple G&T and in cocktails”.
“The big brands have a huge budget for promotion, which allows them to put on numerous events throughout the world. Sadly brands like us don’t have a huge budget yet, and so we need to innovate and take advantage of events like the Fringe to make sure our brands get talked about. Come find out what we can do on Forrest Road,” he said.
The bar will be open from 8pm Tuesday – Saturday each week of the Festival, with doors closing at 1am. Calum, Andrew and Sam invite you along to experience a coffee shop as you’ve never known it before. So take a chance on a 1920’s themed night, make cocktails a part of your Fringe Festival this year and join us in our campaign for #ISawTheBear.
Please note: The event information above has been added by the organiser. Whilst we try to ensure all details are up-to-date we do not make any warranty or representation as to the accuracy or completeness of the information shown.