This Is The Way – a trip to the Cocktail Geeks’ Cantina

Rachael Carpenter
Imperial Officer (Munitions and Cocktails) Rachael Carpenter

IT’S not all about dark spirits at Edinburgh cocktail bar The Cocktail Geeks. It’s also about the Dark Side of the Force.

And the Light Side of the Force. And that hard-to-place middle ground that’s not quite one or the other. 

The Force in general, then. 

The Edinburgh venue, which opened in The Arches near Waverley Station in 2018, takes inspiration from a different pop culture series for its decor and drinks list every four months. Each time the theme changes, the venue’s artwork and menus are overhauled in line with the new theme. 

And in case anyone was thrown by all the ‘Force’ stuff earlier, the current theme is ‘Cantina’, inspired by Star Wars. 

Imperial droids and imagery adorn the walls, a small stuffed Grogu surveys proceedings from atop the back-bar and customers venturing upstairs will walk past Han Solo encased in carbonite (presumably Boba Fett made a stop on his way to Jabba the Hutt’s palace). 

The drinks list is a fan’s dream. 

Cocktails sport names including Tatooine Sunset (red pepper-infused Achroous Gin, raspberry lime, Szechuan, red pepper foam and paprika sugar), Bantha Milk (Diplomatico Mantuano, banana, vanilla, Chinese Five Spice and mango lassi), and Grand Admiral (Sweetdram Whisky Amaro, Pama Pomegranate, Ed Bandara Al Fresco and passion fruit paint), and there’s a dedicated section of highballs built around Kyber crystals. 

For the uninitiated (and if that’s you then well done for making it this far) these are the small crystals which give lightsabers their power and colour, usually giving an indication of each particular Jedi’s allegiance or philosophy. 

And for those unsure which Kyber to choose from, there’s a handy quiz – triggered by a QR code on the menu – to help customers pick the perfect colour for their temperament. 

Die-hard do-gooder? They’re probably a blue or green Kyber sort of a person.

More of a ruthless, take no prisoners sort? A red Kyber for sure. 

The drinks themselves show no shortage of creativity. The Red Kyber, for example, contains Rubis Chocolate Wine, Select Aperitivo, cinnamon and blood orange soda, while the Blue Kyber features Portobello Road Bergamot Vodka, Pataka Ginger, fair kumquat, coconut water, citrus and Nordic blue tonic water. 

“We opened in The Arches in 2018 after doing a series of pop-ups,” co-owner Rachael Carpenter explained to SLTN during a recent visit. 

“Basically, we follow pop culture and try to line things up in time with when things are coming out. So last year we did There and Back Again, in time with The Rings of Power. 

“Now we’re doing Cantina to celebrate the latest Mandalorian coming out. And there’s obviously Ahsoka (coming up) and we’re in time for May the 4th (Star Wars Day), which is perfect timing. 

“So we always try and time the themes alongside when that particular thing is coming out. So, for example, next year we’re going to do Stranger Things again in line with the last season, which will be really cool.

“When we change our themes we change everything, as you’ll probably notice from the uniforms, the music, the decoration; and the menus are all designed in-house as well. 

“Our whole team contribute to the menu. All the drinks are designed from scratch and we have a lot of home-made ingredients as well. It’s really unique.”

The next theme, Endure and Survive, will see the venue transformed into a fungus-infested apocalypse in honour of blockbuster video game and TV series The Last of Us. 

“Our menu’s going to be focused on fungal cocktails,” said Rachael. 

“So using mushrooms in cocktails, but also fermentation and ageing and tinctures and basically anything that would survive the apocalypse.

“So it’s going to take a bit more preparation – because a lot of that stuff takes a lot of time – but it should be really interesting and really in-depth. That’ll be in September.”