Crowdfunding campaign seeks funds for bar training lab in Edinburgh

Summerhall Drinks Lab

A crowdfunding campaign has been launched to raise finance to develop a hands-on training space for professional bartenders in Edinburgh.

The Drinks Lab in the Summerhall complex in the south of the city has been set up as a dedicated centre for the hospitality industry where people can learn and create and share skills, knowledge and ideas.

It has been created by Jamie Shields and Martin Duffy to provide high-quality training and events in Edinburgh and the rest of Scotland, drawing on their years of experience in the hospitality trade.

While The Drinks Lab is already open for bookings, the pair have turned to the Crowdfunder platform to raise £14,000 from private investors to cover set-up fees and running costs for the next 12 months.

This includes gaining a premises licence, upgrading the venue to ensure it complies with licensing regulations, rent, running costs, sourcing a broad cross-section of stock from different brands, buying furniture and equipment and decorating the interior.

The Drinks Lab’s flagship courses will include its Gin & Whisky Lab Sessions – practical, bartender-focused programmes to develop confidence, skills and knowledge in talking about and selling the best of Scottish gin and whisky.

They will also host trade sessions on issues affecting the licensed trade, such as health and wellbeing and sustainability, featuring invited speakers, as well as open it up to those who are new to the industry to try and break down potentially intimidating barriers for those starting their hospitality career.

The venue will also be available for hire to brands or companies looking to host their own sessions, such as Edinburgh Ice Co’s Ice Masterclasses.

It will also run consumer events such as gin tastings and cocktail classes, from public ticketed sessions to private events such as birthdays and corporate days.

A range of incentives has been put together to attract investors, ranging from merchandise and bar tools to bespoke cocktail sessions, a Gin or Whisky Lab training session, or a day out taking in not only The Drinks Lab but some of its neighbours at Summerhall including Pickering’s gin distillery, Barneys brewery and bar-restaurant The Royal Dick.

Jamie is a qualified trainer with years of experience delivering accredited qualifications such as SCPLH and Professional Bartending, bespoke training courses for businesses, and practical training for the Diageo Learning for Life programme with Springboard UK.

Jamie has also hosted the Juniper Cruise gin tasting events on the Union Canal and last year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe show Scotch Egg Club Presents: Whisky On Water as well as various tasting events on gin, whisky and wine throughout the country.

Martin has an extensive background in the bar trade and now owns Solid Liquids, an events and consultancy business based in Edinburgh.

To find out more, visit

Click here to watch a YouTube video of a training session with the team from Edinburgh bar Hoot the Redeemer (pictured above).

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