Changing rooms: The Shilling Group’s Slighhouse in Edinburgh

slighthouse edinburgh

The Shilling Group has revamped Edinburgh’s Bar Kohl into new restaurant and cocktail bar Slighhouse

For 21 years, Bar Kohl was one of the best-known destinations in Edinburgh for cocktails, leading the way in popularising flavoured vodkas. But this fame proved a challenge for The Shilling Group which bought the venue in George IV Bridge six years ago. “It was doing well but we knew there was more potential we could get from it,” says Adam Montgomerie who led the project to revamp it as restaurant and cocktail bar Slighhouse. “Things have really changed in the industry over the past few years, and Bar Kohl had become more about cocktails generally, but people still knew it as the vodka bar. We decided the only way to shift that was to completely change it.”

Slighhouse is now divided into a bar and a restaurant of nearly 50 covers, with customers entering via the bar. “We saw a lot of potential from increasing food which is something that as a whole is seeing a lot of growth,” Adam says. The burger-led offering has been replaced with a menu of small plates, developed under head chef Chris Wilson. Dishes include braised pork belly with crackling and confit fig and butternut puree, and salt cod dumplings, fried chorizo, beetroot and spring onions. There are also snacks available in the bar. The kitchen operates from midday Monday to Saturday and 10.30am on Sundays for brunch, open until 10pm weekdays and 11pm Fridays and Saturdays.

Havana Good Time

Despite the greater emphasis on food, the bar remains a destination for cocktails, with inventive twists on the classics created by Adam and the team. Priced around £7.50 to £8, they include the Count Collins, combining lemon, soda and house orange bitters with a prebatched Negroni made with Portobello Road Gin. The garnish of a postcard is used for Havana Good Time (pictured), which mixes Havana Club 7 Year Old with Merlet Crème de Poire William liqueur, lime, pressed pineapple juice and a dash of absinthe. “We are serious about drinks but present them in a fun and quirky way,” Adam adds. “Sometimes bars take themselves a bit too seriously.”

All other spirits from vodka and tequila to pisco and genever are well represented but the bar has over 50 American whiskeys, including Buffalo Trace’s Antique Collection, such as George T Stagg, as well as the likes of High West, Hudson and Rittenhouse. Alongside a short, interesting selection of wines, Slighhouse offers beers such as Drygate Bearface Lager on draught and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and Meantime Chocolate Porter in bottles.

The sleek new interior by Jaco Justice features a mix of classic design and quirkier touches such as Anglepoise lamps. The use of sandwich ply and angles in the woodwork mimics sedimentary rocks and strata, inspired by James Hutton, the 18th-century father of modern geology, who lived in Slighhouses in Berwickshire – an inspiration for the new concept. “We wanted it to be contemporary and like nowhere else in Edinburgh,” Adam adds.

Slighhouse, 54 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh EH1 1EJ
Tel: 0131 225 6936

Slighhouse edinburgh

Behind the scenes
Design: Jaco & Co
Main contractor: Prime Property Ventures

Slighhouse edinburgh

Originally published in the May 2015 print edition of Bar magazine.

Previous Feel the agave spirit at Tequila & Mezcal Fest
Next MeatLiquor collaborates on Thai-inspired burger for charity