Scotch corner: Edinburgh’s new whisky mecca Cannonball Bar

Cannonball Bar

Victor and Carina Contini have teamed up with Ian Macleod Distillers to create a whisky bar in Edinburgh’s Old Town

The ice cream and porridge are out and lots of whisky has taken its place at a new bar in the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town. Nearly two years ago, well-known restaurateurs Victor and Carina Contini launched their Cannonball Restaurant on the first floor of the historic Cannonball House with Contini Gelateria & Caffe downstairs. They have now teamed up with Ian Macleod Distillers, owner of Glengoyne and Tamdhu single malts, to transform the ground-floor cafe into a bar with over 120 malt whiskies.

The new Cannonball Bar offers not only the full Glengoyne and Tamdhu collections but an impressive range of single malts and blends from every region of Scotland, all listed with helpful tasting notes. The restaurant’s chefs have also developed a tasting menu to pair with the different Glengoyne expressions. But the Continis want this to be a contemporary whisky bar, so bartenders are not afraid to mix scotch into cocktails – Glengoyne 10 Year Old stars in recipes such as a Rob Roy, a Whisky Sour, a Jock Collins and a Castle Cocktail, combined with Cointreau and bitters, topped with Pommery champagne.

With a strong selection of Scottish brands, other spirits are used throughout the cocktail menu such as the Cannonball Cocktail, mixing Pickering’s Gin with Royal Mile Whiskies raspberry liqueur, cranberry juice, tonic and bitters, and the summery Elderflower Orchard with Edinburgh Gin, elderflower liqueur, cloudy apple juice and lime juice. Scottish beers are available on draught and in bottles from the likes of Williams Bros, Edinburgh Beer Factory, Knops and Barney’s, and there is even a Scottish bias in the soft drinks, led by the Summerhouse range.

Cannonball Bar

The architectural redesign was carried out by Edinburgh-based architects KBAD, which included the creation of a new private events space in the basement, The Glengoyne Room, that can cater for up to 40 people. The bar was designed by Edinburgh-based Ampersand Interiors which also worked on the restaurant upstairs, giving the new space its own look but with common touches such as fabrics from the Jean Paul Gaultier Tartan Collection.

Carley Buick, who worked on the design with Ampersand’s Jackie Fisken, says they introduced a darker palette to the space, with Farrow & Ball Tanner’s Brown paint on the walls and metallic copper wallpaper on the ceiling. “We wanted to make it a lot cosier for enjoying whisky and cocktails, using copper accents to give it warmth. It is a large space so it has been broken up with different levels and cosy seating areas.”

The use of copper, from the bar top to upholstery studs, is also inspired by the copper stills used in whisky making, and other whisky-related items fill the shelves and walls. Open Tuesdays to Saturdays from 11am until late, Cannonball Bar is a must-visit for any whisky fan and a cosy escape from the hustle and bustle of the tourist-filled Royal Mile outside.

Cannonball Restaurant & Bar, Cannonball House, 356 Castlehill, Edinburgh EH1 2NE
Tel: 0131 225 1550

Cannonball Bar

Behind the scenes
Design: Ampersand Interiors
Main contractor: Thomas Johnson of Glasgow
Architects: KBAD
Globe lighting: Andy Thornton

Originally published in the July 2016 print edition of Bar magazine.

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