Hidden funfair-themed bar from 'Scotland's best bartender' announces shock closure 

The award-winning team behind a hidden cocktail bar have announced that it will close later this year.

Published 3rd Jul 2024
Updated 3 rd Jul 2024

An Edinburgh speakeasy style bar is set to close after a change in ownership of the building in which it is located.

Hoot the Redeemer, which is owned by Iain McPherson - an multi-award winning bartender and bar owner - will close its doors this autumn.

The dive bar, which is located on Hanover Street through a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it doorway between Oliver Bonas and Bella Italia, is themed around a New Orleans vintage funfair and has retro video games, a tarot-based cocktail menu and boozy ice cream, Señor Scoop.

Hoot the Redeemer bar to close
Picture: Zac + Zac

Hoot the Redeemer opened in 2015 as a ‘little sister’ to Panda and Sons, which was named one of the top 50 bars in the world in 2023.

Speaking to Class Bar Mag, owner McPherson said: “I tried my best over the past 18 months to try and keep it open, but the new landlords have plans for the whole building and in the end there was nothing I could do. I apologise to everyone connected that I somewhat failed in that sense.

“It's a really gutting feeling, as we had created something really unique and the team have been absolutely brilliant. Telling the team the news was probably the hardest thing I've had to do in my 10-plus years as a bar operator.

“Please pop in while you still have time, as there will never be a bar and bar team similar to Hoot. Hoot will last a lifetime in my heart.”

It appears that sites on Hanover Street, where the bar is located, along with sites on Rose Street have been granted planning for a mixed-use development comprising of a hotel with associated guest amenities and ancillary uses.

It’s fair to say that McPherson is one of Scotland’s best, if not Scotland’s best bartender thanks, in part, to his exploration into flavour and scientific approach to cocktails - seen most recently in the Transcend menu at Panda & Sons.

This range of drinks uses an innovative freezing technique called switching, which started with Hoot the Redeemer and the Señor Scoop concept.

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Speaking on our Scran podcast in late 2023, McPherson explained how the dive bar influenced this process. He said: “When we set out to do Hoot the Redeemer, we wanted to create ice cream with alcohol in it. I love ice cream but I didn’t necessarily know how to make it well.

"I went to the gelato university, which is a thing, in Bologna in Italy to study and I even went down to the university of Reading to study the science of ice cream. Going there with a bartender’s brain I suddenly realised that there was so much more we could do.

"I thought it’d be really fun just making ice cream but it was really science forward and classroom focused and it opened my eyes to what was possible.

"We always look at the top restaurants, top chefs and we try to adapt their techniques, such as sous vide. But if you’re constantly looking at a kitchen, you’re not going to see much to do with flavour creation and freezing as, apart from gelato and ice cream - there’s not a lot. But I realise now we can create a lot more with freezing and that’s what we’re trying to promote in Transcend.”

Hoot the Redeemer will close on 1 September 2024.

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Hoot The Redeemer, Hanover Street, Edinburgh, UK
Hoot The Redeemer, Hanover Street, Edinburgh, UK, EH2 2DL
Known for cake making, experimental jam recipes, Champagne, whisky and gin drinking (and the inability to cook Gnocchi), Rosalind is the Food and Drink Editor and whisky writer for The Scotsman, as well as hosting Scran, The Scotsman's food and drink podcast.
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