Glasgow’s new bar The Spiritualist offers an incredible line-up of spirits. Photography by Martin Gray
Ryan Barrie and Jim Ballantyne have been working together for more than 20 years, fitting out many of Glasgow’s top bars through Camelot Catering Systems. They have finally achieved their ambition of opening a bar together – Spiritualist in Glasgow’s Merchant City. “We wanted to do something special together but there were always other projects,” Jim explains. “For this – the venue, the investment, the idea, the team, the capital – everything came along at the right time.”
Working with Burns Design, they have turned a once-derelict library into a stylish new bar and restaurant offering affordable drinking and dining, with strong selections of spirits, beers and creative cocktails. Spiritualist has an extensive bar gantry – 12 metres long and four metres high – holding over 320 spirits and liqueurs, with a sliding ladder for staff to pick bottles off the “floating glass shelves” backed by a Murano mirror.
Through distributor Hot Sauce, Spiritualist stocks brands not found in many places, such as the newly launched Fortaleza range of tequilas. “From Scottish malt whiskies and craft gins to some of the world’s most rare and sought-after brandies, tequilas and absinthe, we offer an unrivalled drinks list,” says Ryan, who also operates Glasgow’s Citation Taverne & Restaurant. “We’ve even sourced a must-try range of small-batch and hard-to-source mezcals. We also believe strongly in sourcing locally which is why we have a superb selection of Scottish malt whiskies as well as some of the country’s best craft gins including Harris, Rock Rose, Shetland Reel and Pickering’s.” A “Buy your Tipple” service allows customers to order a bottle to be delivered to their home.
Alongside classic and champagne cocktails, the bar uses inventive and scientific techniques for many of its original recipes with ingredients such as bacon-infused bourbon and milk-washed vodka. Mostly priced around £6.95 to £7.50, cocktails include Snap, Apple & Pop, made with a gin infused with apple and mint tea plus St-Germain elderflower liqueur, fresh lime juice, sugar snap peas, apple juice and popping candy.
Beers, sourced with the Craft Beer Clan of Scotland, include Fyne Ales and Loch Ness and Inveralmond breweries as well as Williams Bros and Belhaven on draught. The food also has a focus on locally sourced ingredients, from breakfast through to lunch and à la carte dining, with respected suppliers Bernard Corrigan, Braehead Foods and Simon Howie supplying fish, game and other meats.
The interior has a timeless design with a nod to the elegance and style of Art Deco but with a modern feel. The flooring’s herringbone motif is repeated on the walls and across different features, with a palate of pale golds, off whites and bleached ochre punctuated with a bold blue and calm tan orange. “From the illuminated table tops and coat hooks to the bespoke lighting and sound system, Spiritualist is focused on providing an outstanding customer experience,” Jim adds.
Spiritualist, 62 Miller Street, Merchant City, Glasgow G1 1DT
Tel: 0141 248 4165
Behind the scenes
Design: Burns Design
Timber floor: Havwoods
Table tops: Translucent Creations
Furniture: Satelliet UK
Upholstery: Crest Leather
Wall lights: Chelsom
LED lighting: Solus
Dimming systems: Mode Lighting
Originally published in the May 2016 print edition of Bar magazine. Click here to find out about subscribing.