With so many new bars springing up across the country, it’s more important than ever to have fascinating design features that set you apart.
Luckily for Brodies, the newest addition to the blossoming bar scene on Glasgow’s south side, it has not one, not two, but three.
The first is the doors, salvaged from a church that was knocked down in Old Kilpatrick. The second is the bar itself, the front of which has been fashioned out of deconstructed Glenfiddich barrels, creating a ripple effect best appreciated from the side. The third, and most visually arresting of all, is an enormous oil painting hung in the dining area. Named The Spirit of Distilling, it dates back to 1938 and is an amazingly vivid tableau of revelrous drinkers, with a still in the foreground and a figure said to be the Greek goddess of spirit sending a knowing look out to the beholder from the bottom left corner. The painting and lots of others trinkets and furniture inside were supplied by architectural antiques specialist Angus McPherson.
Brodies Bar/Restaurant stands in a terrific location right on the corner of Queen’s Park, on the site of what was Shimla Pinks. Owner Michael Adair was formerly a business manager at Diageo, launching Smirnoff Ice in Australia for the drinks giant. Michael is a first-timer when it comes to running his own place but his knowledge of the drinks industry as a whole is extensive, and he lives on the south side so knows it inside-out. His individualistic approach has led him to make some truly interesting, left-field choices, meaning that Brodies cleverly sidesteps a lot of the more obvious cliches of the archetypal trendy modern bar. The name was chosen as it was simple, memorable and distinctly Scottish.
Michael explains, “I didn’t have a designer, I got an architect from Glasgow School of Art, a Swedish guy, to do my plans, and that conversation expanded into other things. I told him what I wanted in my head and he drew it for me. If you give these kids a chance, they’re fantastic. And then I had another team of ex-School of Art guys do the steelwork, then I got my nailgun out to put the staves up, and before I knew it the place was taking shape. Lights 2 and Jamie Ballantine were fantastic. They do really bespoke work.
“As for the barrels, Glenfiddich shipped them down from up north and I sanded them down, stained them and put them on. A Melbourne bar I used to work in had something similar, and that’s where I got the idea.”
Michael is especially grateful for the support of William Grant & Sons and their contribution is reinforced in the form of the Glenfiddich stag’s head icon bolted onto the wall on the right side of the bar.
Wood-panelling is interspersed with purple paint on the walls, the pillars and light fittings in the bar area are brass and the spirits selection mounted on the wall is pleasantly backlit.
Light 2’s influence can be seen in the quirky light fittings dotted around, including one where the bulb protrudes from an industrial tap!
Michael has noted with interest the way bar customers can arrive purely with drinks on their mind then decide quite suddenly to eat, and Brodies is designed with that in mind. The left side of the space may be given over primarily to dining, but it’s still casual, comfortable and littered with characterful touches, such as a carved gargoyle’s head, a statuette of a pheasant and a wall-mounted bookcase containing dusty old tomes like ‘The Law of Vesting’ by Candlish Henderson and ‘A Commentary on the Bills of Exchange Act 1882’. There are dining tables with bench seating beneath the floor-to-ceiling window and long brown leather banquettes running down both walls, all overlooked by an old-style fireplace and an imposing section of exposed brickwork on the far wall. Oblong light shades stretch down from the ceiling above, casting a warm gold glow on those sat below. The right side meanwhile is a perfect spot for people-watching, with sections of high chairs looking directly onto Pollokshaws Road or the main entrance to Queen’s Park depending where you are. Rough stone pillars demarcate these sections and the paint used here is royal blue. There are snug booths, also in blue, either side of the entrance and a selection of small framed sketches which enhance the ‘distinguished drawing room’ feel.
Michael describes Strathbungo – the small pocket of southern Glasgow where Brodies is located – as being like a village, and those familiar with the area will know just what he means.
He says, “It’s not Shawlands, it’s not town, we’re stuck in the middle, and people are really loyal to this area. There’s something happening down in this little bit. I’ve always lived in the south side and it’s always been my priority to do something in this area. I could see a wee pattern developing. As soon as you get that wee buzz, you start getting clusters, and that’s the way forward. We’re not Finnieston here, and I know it sounds naff, but I’m doing my own thing. I’m not saying I don’t want 21-year-olds in, that’s not fair, but I want mature people in too, so I don’t have a DJ in the corner spinning discs.”
The doors opened in late June and Michael has been delighted with the response thus far.
He adds, “We’ve had lots of locals in, lots of people who drink in all the other great places round here. We’ve been really busy, and it’s been brilliant for lunches. It’s early days, but it’s been a good mix of clientele and a good mix of drinks bought as well. We’ve got cracking gin and rum ranges and 32 different craft beers, all Scottish, sorted geographically by region. There’s been really good feedback on the food – it’s approachable and unpretentious, starting at a fiver and going up to £13.95. My chef is Allan McDonald, who set up Café Andaluz in Cresswell Lane.”
The perfect halfway stop for those travelling from Shawlands to Glasgow or vice-versa, the Greek goddess is waiting inside to make all comers welcome.