The Speratus Group has brought its gourmet ‘dirty burger’ bar with attitude to Stirling with the opening of its third Boozy Cow. The new restaurant and cocktail bar is located next to the Stirling Arcade. This is the first venture for Speratus in Stirling and follows Boozy Cow openings in Aberdeen in 2014 and Edinburgh in February 2015. Design agency Tibbatts Abel and Edinburgh-born creative artist Lyndsey Jean Henderson, who have worked on all of Speratus’ Boozy Cow venues, have reunited for the Stirling project. Once again, the venue’s idiosyncratic design is an integral part of the entire Boozy Cow concept. An eight-week refurbishment costing £250,000 has transformed the space, which formerly housed Bar Budda, into a fun and eclectic eatery which offers a relaxed atmosphere, stacked homemade burgers, visually-impressive cocktails and a good craft beer selection. Boozy Cow isn’t just a meat and cocktail lovers paradise.
It’s an attack on all the senses, and also a haven for fans of pop art, graffiti and grunge, thanks to its funky, raw, urban design. An industrial metal door leads onto a small black corridor with large windows that look onto the main bar area, with the large bar on the right and five long, high tables on the left. Entering, you’re met with a blaze of colour and a riot of striking, vibrant artwork. Before turning right into the bar, a towering artwork of two skeletons locked in a passionate embrace gives a hint of what’s to come. Artist Lyndsey Jean Henderson has covered every inch of available wall space in graffiti, pop art, splashes of paint and slogans like “God gave us life, rock ‘n’ roll”. Everywhere you look, a detail screams for your attention. Reflecting Boozy Cow’s urban vibe, her bold, edgy artworks include one skeleton pouring a can of arsenic into another’s mouth, ferocious tigers and panthers, a mirror covered in a pop art-style portrait of Mary Queen of Scots (as a skeleton), and a women wearing shades and pointing a gun beside the words “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.”
The venue is split into two sections: a bar area at the front and additional seating in the back beside the closed off kitchen. In the large bar area, which has a capacity of 150, sits a number of high tables varying in size from two to six seaters. Each has a varnished chipboard top and metal pipe legs that look like scaffolding pipes and add to the industrial feel of the design. They are surrounded by tall stools with thin, black metal legs and wooden tops, some of which have the Boozy Cow brand seared into the wood. The lefthand wall bears a line of oversized, naked light bulbs set on a strip of metal, reflected in the strip of mirror set below it. Opposite, the large rectangular bar has a tiled top and is clad with corrugated iron sheets lined by chunky strips of wood punctuated with metal studs. It’s lined by quirky bar stools are made from beer kegs cut in half and painted red with added steel legs. More exposed light bulbs are encased in metal wire cages that hang above the bar on chains and in smoked glass boxes. Metal fridges behind the bar have alphabet magnets used as a fun way to spell out milkshake and cocktail specials.
They are flanked by a gantry made of solid wood shelves that hold a range of wines and spirits, illuminated by a red neon sign that reads, “No Guts, No Glory!” The blazing neon sign is one of many bespoke pieces created by Chantelle Lighting that are used throughout Boozy Cow and enhance its edgy, urban vibe. On the bar’s right, the Boozy Cow brand glows on a thin wall of corrugated iron in more red and yellow neon-tubed lighting, with its mirror-image displayed on the corner wall cut out of a black metal sheet. Despite the room’s predominantly black and red colour scheme, it still feels light thanks to the front wall of the restaurant which is comprised of large windows with black surrounds. To the bar’s left sit two, four seater brown leather booths separated by lines of black PVC strips suspended on metal frames, reminiscent of the coverings used in warehouses and cold storage units. The wooden floorboards are sporadically marked with lines of red and black and the ceiling is grey with yellow spotlights and the occasion splash of paint or writing that strays from the walls. Left of the booths, three steps lead down to a hidden seated area. There’s plenty more artwork to take in on the sloped ceiling as you descend.
The slogan “God gave us life, rock ‘n’ roll” is sprawled across the ceiling and surrounded by lightning patterns made of large metal studs. The same long tables found in the bar line the walls here and are lit by steampunk black caged lights suspended by thick metal black pipes. There’s also two large booths that can each accommodate parties of six. On the wall beside them, a devil woman peers out from underneath a wall of heavy metal chains hanging on a square arch of metal pipes. The whole feature is illuminated by a strip of lighting set behind the chains. The opposite wall is lined with more varnished chipboard panelling and beard another red neon sign that provocatively asks “What’s your beef?” The lefthand wall is made of large windows that look directly into the Stirling Arcade shopping centre. A long wooden bar with about twelve seats runs along the window. To give diners some privacy, the wall of windows have been painted with a translucent, tattoo-style pink skull and black roses on one side and a snarling orange tiger on the other.
The seating here runs down a narrow corridor which leads to the upstairs toilets, which are a design feature in themselves. Getting there feels like entering an urban art gallery and the artist has certainly gone to town on the design here. The walls and ceilings of the staircase and second floor corridor have a black base covered in white, red and pink dashes and spilled paint dripping down the walls which are also plastered in more punchy graffiti art. In the ladies toilets, two pink tigers snarl from the walls, joined by Riot Grrrl slogans and imagery. The edgy design is juxtaposed by a large white marble double sink. The men’s toilets have bizarrely become a talking point with customers – not surprising as the white urinals are drenched in spilled red paint! The effect is replicated in the disabled toilets downstairs in the bar area, only this time with black paint trickling into the toilet bowl. On the back wall of the bar is a large pop art mural of a woman eating a burger and provocatively commanding “Bite Me”, a phrase that effectively sums up Boozy Cow’s deliciously deviant and playful design. While its décor might not be to everyone’s taste, Boozy Cow’s towering homemade burgers and standout cocktails will undoubtedly leave an lasting impression in its new hometown.