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Think Edinburgh history and you might imagine the city’s enormous castle, its smart Georgian squares or its tight medieval alleyways. You probably wouldn’t think of 1950s New Orleans. But that hasn’t stopped the founders of Hoot the Redeemer, a New Town bar that offers random cocktails, nude paintings and a retro fairground feel.
You enter this adult playground via an ornate door guarded by a tarot reader figurine.
Inside, the beer taps are topped with fish and pistols, tarot designs deck the walls and the ceiling is modelled on the Sistine chapel – complete with a naked rendering of the owner.
The drinks are similarly themed, with cocktails based on the tarot (the fool, the devil, the ace of cups), plus the option to let fate, in the form of a custom-made, ball-plucking claw machine, choose your ingredients. The results might be topped with burned foam or honeycomb. There’s a good range of spirits, too, and all beers are brewed within 160 kilometres (100 miles) of Edinburgh.
The sweet theme continues with alcoholic ice cream (served in small tubs and featuring Scottish staples like Buckfast and Irn-Bru – the owner’s father was in the ice cream industry) and bright and boozy slush puppies.
Hoot the Redeemer is on Hanover Street, in Edinburgh’s New Town. It’s a central spot, a stone’s throw from Edinburgh Castle, Princes Street Gardens and the Scottish National Gallery. If you’re on a night out, you’re in luck – there are several other excellent cocktail bars within stumbling distance, and there’s craft beer around, too.
For the bold, the Rose Street Challenge is a pub crawl that heads down the pub-packed street of the same name, with participants trying to make it as far down the road as they can. You might not need tarot cards to tell you how you’ll be feeling the morning after.