Design Focus: Indigo Yard

Susan Young joined Tom Cullen of Molson Coors for a bite of lunch in the newly refurbished Indigo Yard, and saw at first hand how the brewers beers have impacted on the new look IY.
Indigo Yard for many years has been one of my favourite bars, so the news that it was getting a refurbishment initially filled me with trepidation. However I am delighted to say the new look IY – yes, it has had a brand refresh too – is bang on trend. Despite taking only six days it has all the quality hallmarks which Montpeliers is famous for. They haven’t stinted here, and it’s the finishing touches, as much as the new look, which give it the X-factor, or should that be the C-factor – because IY is now very much a craft beer focused bar.
The bar was one of Edinburgh’s original style bars, and over the years it has evolved but the changes have always been, until now, more in keeping with the cocktail tradition. Today the craft look is evident from the minute you rock up. The outside area has been transformed with a country style unit on the right featuring topiary and stainless steel garden accessories and copious amounts of lavender. Two large barrels are situated near the entrance, while the decked area features rustic, heavy wooden tables, with tops that are inches thick, industrial looking benches and large branded cream umbrellas, surrounded by more fresh lavender, which completes the look.
As you enter the bar, on the left, a large a bespoke Victorian mirror announces the fact you are in Indigo Yard, while a shelf of enticing looking cakes draws you in. Underneath the traditional cake stands is a very modern looking macaroon display atop a white unit with lots of colourful boxes underneath.
On the right, the brick and plaster wall has been painted dark green and adorned with various plant pots. Tall bench style banquets, upholstered in olive leather and small tall posing tables with chrome and dark green stools finish this area.
As you go further in I’m not sure whether its the bar itself you first notice or the extended mezzanine which has the effect of making the underneath area more cosy.
But lets turn our attention to the all important bar which has been transformed. The bar has a heavy wooden top, smooth to the touch but rustic, it has been clad with timber, and the back bar showcases the bars new craft beer credentials – its not just a focus on craft beer, wine and whisky get a look in too.
The back bars piece de resistance is its beer list which hangs like a old wooden train arrivals and departures board. Instead of the stations you have beers from Friar Weisse to Blue Moon and instead of arrival and departure times you have the prices. Beneath which there are eight founts mounted on a black plinth with the words above “When it comes to Shandon Stout, every drop is a piece of history”, a quote from Shane Long of Franciscan Well Brewery.
To the left of this centrepiece you will find wines displayed both in a wine rack format and on shelves. There are wooden boxes of wine on display too – and when you see embossed boxes of wine, immediately you think of quality products. While to the right you will find whiskies and bourbons, and further to the right bottled beers. Stainless steel fronted waist height fridges run the length of the bar.
The spirits used in the making of cocktails have been relegated to the space above the front bar, and are now situated in a stainless steel cage-like shelf area, while glasses hang beneath them.
There are also founts on the front bar, despite the fact the fount on the right has seven beers it only has two legs (it was described to me as being like goal posts) and there’s a similar fount on the left of the bar – with a few individual founts inbetween. The centre of the bar has been kept clear. So despite the fact there are nye on 20 beers on tap, it doesn’t feel cluttered. The selection includes Scottish beers such as Innis & Gunn and Belhaven Best as well as Staropramen and Franciscan Well.
The lighting too in this area is a focal point – dark green steel shades, more normally seen hanging over snooker tables, mingle with glass shades on steel chains. The effect is more striking when you are on the mezzanine looking over the bar.
They have kept IY’s signature blond sandstone wall that splits the bar area from the restaurant, and the furniture has all been given a make-over. The wooden tables have been stripped back, and the chairs painted. The walls are dark green and cream, with words stencilled on such as Craft and Cork seems to be the order of the day with the new branding IY.
The back area under the mezzanine, features a stainless steel mesh wine rack, though I think this is for display and not a working rack, while the booths have been reupholstered in olive green leather. The mezzanine ceiling is clad in planks of wood, a design feature which has been continued into the dining area, and the main feature in the dining area is the dark green wall with another mural again.
Upstairs the area appears to be much larger and you are greeted with a similar display to the one outside with the gardening equipment and topiary, but there is also a giant blackboard with stencilled words – ‘Lovingly restored’; ‘26 Draught Craft Beers’, ‘Schooners’, ‘The Best British Pork’ and so on – all the refurbished bars new credentials.
The walls are dark green with the words ‘Est 1996’ stencilled in white, and of course the new branding. The walls here are also covered by distressed timber and exposed stonework. The tables are topped with solid planks of wood which are inches thick, with green and glass lights completing the look.
It’s a simple but very effective design, which has completely changed the character of the bar, and the design ethos has been carried through into the service delivery itself – with food arriving on wooden platters, and staff enthusing about the new beers. Certainly the influx of lavender appears to have brought with it the sweet smell of success.

Category: Features
Tags: Belhaven Best, craft beer, DESIGN, Edinburgh, Franciscan Well, Indigo Yard, Innis & Gunn, IY, refurbishment, Staropramen