Signature Pubs has been inspired by the writer of The Wind in the Willows for its bar Badger & Co in Edinburgh’s New Town
Ratty, Mole, Badger and Toad of Toad Hall are still remembered by many of us 108 years after Kenneth Grahame created them in his classic children’s book, The Wind in the Willows. So it was too tempting for Signature Pubs not to draw on this for their new bar, Badger & Co, in the Georgian house in Castle Street in Edinburgh where the writer was born.
Working with hospitality designers Tibbatts Abel, they have created a main bar, a restaurant, a library-style room and a private dining room over two floors plus a garden area. Rather than heavy theming, they have drawn on the spirit and period of The Wind in the Willows for a relaxing interior that mixes contemporary design with quirky details.
Badger himself does appear, in a top hat on the external signage and riding a penny farthing bicycle in a large painting inside, but, otherwise, it is more about a homely Edwardian style, a woodland-inspired palette of pale green, brown and blue, and wood panelling. Above the fireplace is a digital artwork created by Napier University students using images from the early 20th century which changes every hour.
“Interesting features are woven into the space with hints to the characters,” explains designer Adam Tibbatts. “The venue has a warm and welcoming feel where you could easily curl up with a good book. Inviting and comfortable chesterfield banquettes and whimsical woodland creatures combined with trailing floral wallpapers create a distinctively inviting ambience.”
The characters make more of an appearance on the menu of original cocktails, drawing on countryside flavours and inspired by bartending at the time when Grahame lived and wrote. Priced around £7 to £10, they include Badger’s Burrow, combining Courvoisier Exclusif VSOP cognac with Dalmore 12 Year Old whisky, Grand Marnier, plum and chocolate. For summer, you can enjoy a Pimm’s in the Willows, made with Beefeater Gin, Pimm’s, a blueberry and thyme shrub, grapefruit juice, citrus and ginger ale.
The bar is lined with fonts offering a range of beers and ciders on draught, from mainstream brands to the likes of Stewart Brewing’s Belgian-style First World Problems, Drygate’s Outaspace Apple Ale, Wells Banana Bread Beer, and Kona Big Wave golden ale. With more beers and ciders in bottles, the bar also has a good, select choice of wines and spirits.
Open from 8am to 1am every day, Badger & Co is a destination for coffee, made by trained baristas, with breakfast, lunch and dinner through to 10pm. The food menu focuses on bold, fresh, seasonal ingredients, including grills and pies, from a seasonal Scottish game pie in stout gravy to a Borders chicken and leek pie in tarragon cream sauce. It all makes for a bar that would entice even Badger, who “hates society, invitations and dinner”, out of his burrow.
Badger & Co, 32 Castle Street, Edinburgh EH2 3HT
Tel: 0131 226 5430
Behind the scenes
Design: Tibbatts Abel
Furniture: Room Food
Upholstery: PG Interiors
Signage: Jasmin Design
Originally published in the June 2016 print edition of Bar magazine.