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A bartender’s bar in the heart of the bustling and eclectic West End of Glasgow serving up great drinks and great food! Booly Mardys opened in July 2003. It was instantly recognised as one of the best cocktail bars in the UK winning best drinks selection and presentation in the UK from Theme magazine. Originally named after the 1920’s cocktail the infamous Bloody Mary but a rival company bought the rights to trade under the name and hence our name was changed to Booly Mardy’s. From then Boolys has gone from strength to strength, with professional bartenders that take care of your every drinking whim!
Their website claims that Booly Mardy’s is “Glasgow’s best cocktail bar,” so expectations were set before we even arrived.
It was Friday night at 9:30pm when we arrived, and the favourable location – in the hub of Glasgow’s popular west end – meant that the bar was busy, but not mobbed. There were still a few tables available.
Taking in the surroundings, it was romantically lit with strategically placed lighting and candles at each table. The warm, rich wooden tables and tasteful décor were inviting and cosy. Being a small venue, the best use of space was probably the main focus in the remit of the interior designer, which meant that the small tables were slightly too close together. It was tricky to navigate to the table we spotted, and when we got there felt a little like we were interrupting the two couples at either side because we were almost encroaching on their shoulder room. We moved to one of the tables closer to the bar, which was a little less noisy as it didn’t have a speaker directed at us, like the first table. The aural ambience was jarring against the visual ambience, as the music was louder than you would expect in this venue – probably to suit the Friday night vibe rather than the surroundings.
The red, string-bound, handwritten cocktail menu was a nice touch, appropriately complimenting the personalised and hand-crafted skill of cocktail creation. A quote describing the multi-faceted, multi-skilled bartender on the opening page of the menu added charm and raised expectations.
After deliberating for five or so minutes my friend and I chose our tipples, opting for fruity vodka-based cocktails.
Despite the bar being busy, the 2-3 bartenders were slick and efficient, so I was served almost instantly, and with a smile.
Both cocktails were quickly and deftly made, without reference to the ingredients and presented in appropriate, chilled glasses. There was no flamboyance in the process or pouring, just efficient and clinical, which is probably appropriate for a busy Friday night.
That said, there was a nice touch with one of the cocktails which had a fruity kebab-styled garnish made of two ripe raspberries carefully squashed between three slices of kumquat – a lovely touch. The rest of the fresh cocktail ingredients were ripe and zesty.
The bar became significantly busier between 10:30 and 11:30pm, with the mixed clientele ranging from 30-50s, all veering towards the upper end of the market in both dress-sense and attitude. There was a slight heir of “the place to be seen” …a few years ago.
Overall, it was a pleasurable experience, with quality being a central theme. Great cocktails, well presented. However, it was a little cramped and loud, and a few things could do with being refreshed. I expect that the experience would be even more positive on a week night, outside of the busiest times.
Review by Donnie Maclean, Eat Balanced