Design Focus: Mother’s, Howe Street, Edinburgh

MothersIMG 1900

Iain Pert and business partner Gordon Gilhooley have been busy. They opened McSorley’s in Edinburgh just before Christmas and this month they completed the refurbishment of the former Standard on Howe Street and have created a new gin bar called Mother’s.
This bar has a small shop front, which is really deceiving because the bar extends back and becomes, what is in fact, quite a substantial sized bar. Says Iain, “It was quite run down, and we have made quite a few alterations although we did keep the location of the bar and the bar itself.”
These alterations include removing some pillars and taking away the fixed seating, and recycling some items such as the lights, the bar and keeping others such as the fabulous traditional radiators.
Iain explains, “We have a lot of bespoke features here which our designer created himself. He also recommended that we put in bespoke tables, and although there was a lot of discussion about them because they were quite costly, they have really brought the place to life.”
He is right. The tables which look like they have been created from parquet flooring – gleam in the light, adding warmth and a point of difference. The warmth is also enhanced by the red walls at the entrance, and the colour was mixed to Iain and Gordon’s specification.
Although this is a gin bar, with more than 200 gins on offer, the theme is quite discrete throughout. From the bowler hat lighting, personally created by the designer, to the art deco style wall lights (recycled from the Standard’s ceiling lighting) to the black and pin-strip rear wall (hand painted), and a couple of murals of a well dressed gentleman… it’s not in your face.
Explains Iain, “Everything is quite bespoke and discreet. We didn’t want the bar to be too male orientated which is why we introduced the bright red bespoke lampshades at the front of the bar, and the velour covered booth.”
This booth, which seats two, is situated near the window and is almost like a small carriage. Says Iain, “This was dead area, but now the booth is there it is one of the most popular seats in the room.”
Further through into the body of the bar the walls now feature bluey/grey wood panelling which has just been put in, and some fixed seating, which lies horizontal to the bar. All the bar chairs and leather upholstery have been refurbished by a car company, who specialise in restoring old cars. Says Iain, “They rejuvenated all the leather and buffed it up. It now looks, and feels, great. They also refurbished the pewter bar which had been left to languish and the beautiful gantry had been covered up by the previous occupant and we have redesigned it and used some beautiful tiles to add definition.”
The shelves of the bar groan under the weight of the multitude of gins on offer, and there is a specials board for the Gin & Tonics of the month. The nature of gin bottles mean that this display also is very creative and adds to the overall feel of the bar.
Mother’s also has a downstairs area which has been transformed into a private party area. The stairs down to it, situated at the rear of the pub, are also a work of art and very art deco in nature. But they have merely been restored and the black paint removed. It looks great and some beautiful bespoke wallpaper in a lovely teal blue and featuring little birds, adds a slight oriental feel to the space. This wallpaper is continued into the space below, which is a bit edgier than the bar. Says Iain, “It holds 100 people and it has its own bar, and of course the kitchen is here so it’s really easy to cater for private parties.”
There are still a few details to be introduced including the cocktail menu, which now that they have sourced enough leather bound books called ‘The Drunken Botanist’ will be adapted to exhibit Mother’s cocktail list. And of course not forgetting the font that has been used – called would you believe it ‘gin’. Very appropriate! Mother’s is at 24 Howe Street.

Category: Features
Tags: Edinburgh, gin bar, Gordon Gilhooley, Howe Street, Iain Pert, McSorleys, Mothers