It might not look like it at the moment, but in around six weeks this will be the latest addition to Edinburgh’s flourishing bar scene. The Hanging Bat is going to be interesting for any number of reasons – not least what will be behind, and on top of the bar. Yesterday, I spent an hour in the company of Bat gurus Chris and Calum, poking around in the rubble of what used to be Mr Modos and chatting about their intentions. Everything seems to be taking shape – whereas to me it looked a scene of indoor carnage, they knew what each area would look like, and how it would all fit together.
The first thing you notice is the number of different levels. Chris and Calum will be retaining the basic layout, but adding different elements to some of the areas. Glass partitions, murals – a lower area which will be used for meet the brewer events, or for other gatherings. Of course, at the moment this is all theoretical, only recently has the bar been added, for example – but it looks great, decked out in wood, with the kitchens behind. Inspired by Brooklyn craft bars, they’ll be dishing out barbecue food – brisket, pulled pork and the like.
Until now, much of the talk involving the Hanging Bat has been about the on-site microbrewery (which will still be an integral part), and the decision not to serve pints. The latest beer-related point is that when it opens, the counter will have only bespoke, bare, tap handles. No pump clips. No logos. No differentiation. To discover what’s on, beer menus will be on the tables, and a blackboard will show rotating guest beers. To discover what each of the beers might be like, you’ll have to ask.
‘Bars should be places that foster integration’ says Chris, summing it up. Many a time, people pick Tennent’s lager as they turn up somewhere new and that’s all they recognise. Not at the Hanging Bat (which, in any case, won’t be serving Glasgow’s finest). The staff – ten of whom are already in place – will be trained on talking through beer styles with people, based on the customer’s previous experience with beer. It’s an interesting idea, and is quite risky – relying on people to want to experience new things, and try new beers – but there’s certainly a market for it.
The Hanging Bat will carry fourteen keg lines, and six cask – of which four will be handpulls and two gravity dispense. With backgrounds both firmly in the beer camp, learning about the other types of booze has been a major learning curve for Chris and Calum. Wanting to feature as many Scottish producers as possible, the bar will major in the one spirit (other than whisky, championed by the nearby Cloisters) that is really on the rise in Scotland – gin. All others will be catered for, but if you’re a fan of the mother’s ruin, keep an eye out.
The entire project is at that stage where most of the larger pieces are in place, but there’s still time to add small touches. An interesting take on the beer flight, for example. Or a novel alternative to the fancy burgers that many new bars now serve. Pour-over coffee (amongst other varieties) will be provided by the guys who recently opened BrewLab. Homebrewing clubs will be invited to use the brew-kit, when members of the public or visiting brewers aren’t taking up the tankspace. Lots of things seem possible, at the moment.
The Hanging Bat is taking shape, and will open on Monday the 19th of November. Everyone I spoke to confirmed that they were on schedule, so keep that day free in your drinking diary – and keep up to date by following @thehangingbat on Twitter. The launch lineup of beers is on their website.