First Look: Inside the East End’s new bourbon bar Van Winkle

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From the outside, a subtle change. On the inside, a transformation. Van Winkle, a bourbon bar and kitchen across from the Barrowland Ballroom has arrived. The tone is set by the impressive selection of bottles behind the bar. There’s also a selection of craft beer and all the usual drinks you would expect, if a Maker’s Mark or a Woodford Reserve isn’t to your taste (they’ve around 80 different types of bourbon).

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The owners are looking to open other bars in Glasgow, Van Winkle is the start for them. They made a deliberate decision to begin here, on The Gallowgate. In doing so they join the likes of St Luke’s and A’Challtainn in providing more reasons to venture further than Glasgow Cross on a night out, if you are travelling east. Meanwhile, BrewDog have plans for opening nearby and there’s at least another restaurant concept on the way.

When we visited there was a mix of pre-gig drinkers and groups looking for food. There was a steady stream of bourbon being pored at the bar while pizza and barbecue meats were propelled to tables by gliding staff.

It’s proven to be a winning formula elsewhere and Van Winkle takes a lot of design cues from other venues that have harnessed a following. The background music contributes to the atmosphere. The place looks good. Fashionable without forcing it too much.

We enjoyed the chilli cheese loaded fries and bbq pulled pork pizza.

This was an underused space, an old Glasgow bar that had a bit of character but failed to connect with a wider audience. Van Winkle has a shot at carving out its own niche in the months ahead.

One The Menu: Van Winkle

Mac ‘n’ cheese loaded fries £4

Nachos, cheese, soured cream, guacamole,salsa & green onions £4

BBQ Pit

1 Meat, Fries, 1 Side = £10
1 Meat, Fries, 2 Sides = £12
2 Meats, Fries, 2 Sides = £17

Meat: Wings, ribs, bourbon BBQ pulled pork, bourbon BBQ brisket, half roast chicken, St Louis BBQ ribs, beef short ribs

The American pizza: burger, bacon, double cheese, gherkins, american mustard £8.50

The Mexican pizza: chilli beef, jalapenos, guacamole, soured cream £8

You can find the full menu here.

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