Taste for travel: The Voyage of Buck in Edinburgh

Voyage of Buck Edinburgh

Big Red Teapot has opened Edinburgh bar The Voyage of Buck, reports Mark Ludmon. Pictures by Kate Lenart

Back in the late 19th century, William “Buck” Clarence developed a taste for travel. Over the decades, he spent time in places such as France, Taiwan, Egypt and Cuba, bringing mementoes from his adventures back to his beloved Edinburgh. Or at least that is story behind The Voyage of Buck, the new bar in Edinburgh’s West End.

Taking over the former site of Bert’s Bar in William Street, it has been developed by Big Red Teapot which operates leading Edinburgh bars Treacle, Hamilton’s and The Blackbird. It is a stylish destination for all-day dining and cocktails, with flavours inspired by globe-trotting Buck, its fictional host.

The interior has been developed by Big Red Teapot’s founders, Colin Church and Martin Luney, with interiors specialist Splintr. It has a mix of furniture including some in Art Deco style, with a colour palette of blue, mustard and vintage gold inspired by the Edwardian era. It has 60 covers, including space at the marble-topped bar. Dotted throughout are artefacts, treasures and antiques from Buck’s voyages as well as works by Scottish artists of today including Fraser Gray.

Voyage of Buck Edinburgh

Under general manager Mike McGinty, the cocktail list is inspired by Buck’s travels, with sections headed Paris, Taipei, Cairo and Havana. From Paris, options include Les Enfants Terribles – named after the 1929 Jean Cocteau novel – which is made with Tapatio Blanco tequila, Calvados Père Magloire, amontillado sherry, lemon and bay leaf syrup. Among those representing Taipei is the Anna May Wong, named after the American-born Hollywood star of the 1920s and 1930s. It is made with Tanqueray No Ten gin, plum sake, purple shizo, Cocchi di Torino and preserved lychee.

Havana inspires the Compay Segundo, combining banana-infused Diplomatico Reserva rum, lime, crème de cacao, smashed coffee beans and house-batch coconut orgeat. In homage to Cairo comes the Carter and Carnarvon, a Boulevardier-style drink named for archaeologist Howard Carter and his patron, the Earl of Carnarvon, who found Tutankhamun’s tomb. It is made with fig-infused Monkey Shoulder whisky, Cocchi di Torino, Campari, Buck’s own fenugreek cordial and bitters.

There is also a seasonally changing list, starting with a winter selection that includes a Coffee and Praline Flip, made with praline-infused Bacardi Carta Ocho rum, Patrón XO, Tia Maria, beurre noisette cinnamon syrup and a whole egg, and a Mulled Chamomile Toddy, with Zubrowka bison grass vodka, Reyka vodka, camomile, apple, cinnamon, cloves, lemon and agave.

Food is available from 10am, from breakfast through to dinner, finishing at 10pm, plus brunch at weekends. The menu, changed monthly and using seasonal, locally sourced ingredients, is a mix of small, large and sweet plates, allowing people to select dishes to share with friends or larger mains just for themselves. Like the cocktails, they feature a world of flavours to satisfy even someone as well travelled as Buck.

The Voyage of Buck, 29-31 William Street, Edinburgh EH3 7NG
Tel: 0131 225 5748

Voyage of Buck Edinburgh

Behind the scenes
Original concept: Colin Church & Martin Luney
Branding, signage, wallpaper graphic design: Martin Luney, Euan Brunton (Big Crayon)
Shop fitting, interiors: Splintr
Bespoke mural: Fraser Gray
Coffee table design: Lily Morris

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

Previous Craft Beer Rising returns for 2017
Next Changes to the water industry from next April