Heading towards Glasgow’s Corinthian Club on a Saturday night, I passed the Merchant City Festival in Brunswick St in full swing. This type of festival event that ranges from families during the day to adults bar hopping and taking in the street festival concerts in the evening may be commonplace in and around London for us to be blase about them, Glasgow, however, has no qualms. Couples were dancing to the band playing Beatles tribute songs and the bars were rammed with revellers spilling onto the pedestrianised streets. And this was only around 7pm.
Hot footing it as fast as my sparkly pink Ginas would allow me, I made my way through the grand Neo Classical Corinthian entrance hall and by passed my usual haunt, the stunning main bar where the architecture and domed ceiling is always breathtaking. This time I was heading to the piano bar on the first floor, Charlie Parker’s, a stylish ’80s themed cocktail bar in black, grey and nude with framed Bruce Weber prints the length of the bar that looks out over Glasgow’s Ingram St, with George Square and the City Chambers winking at us in the background. The bar was filled with post Festival goers, regulars and early evening drinkers who appeared to be in their ’30s & ’40s. This is obviously a bar for relaxed drinking and conversation even on an upbeat Saturday night.
I started off with a glass of champagne to ease me into the night and then followed this with the Club Cocktail, a peachy sweet affair with Xante pear liqueur, Ketel One vodka, Chambord & raspberries. I then moved on to a quick Lush (champagne & raspberries) as the name called to me, somehow. The latter hit the mark as did my friend’s Blueberry Fizz (blueberries, fresh lime juice, sugar & champagne) as we left our seats at the piano and the piano player tinkling away on the ivories in a lively sociable bar that I’d definitely return to.
We were headed to a sister venue of The Corinthian, Arta, a basement location with a difference. You enter Arta by a small doorway in the Merchant Citty (Walls St), walk downstairs and walk into a huge hacienda scene inspired by a palace in La Paloma. This is one grand place that could easily be overlooked if you didn’t know where to find it.
Sweeping staircase, huge Dali, Picasso and classical paintings (that would be a sizeable haul if genuine), enclaves, sofas, candelabras, lots of candles on stands, tables and in archways, rugs and classical music being played throughout the evening led me to believe that Arta would be a haunt of the older, more distinguished couples. However, Chris, the extremely polite & affable manager told us that Arta also had a young following, a club open till 3am and a rose petal drop to an ‘X Factor’ like soundtrack each weekend.
As we couldn’t wait until 11pm and petal drop time, we tried the Bed of Roses ie. Rose petal vodka & cava stuffed with beautifully scented petals and then petals strewn around the drinks on service – a lovely touch. For some reason (who knows, perhaps the cocktails and champagne), my friend stuffed her bra with rose petals “for later.” (She did call me the next day to ask why she’d awoken with rose petals stuck to her cheeks?) We also sampled a couple of tequila shots with lime which packed a punch. Arta is worth checking out for the ambience alone as well as the selection of cocktails, cavas and sangrias. I like what they’re doing here. Its original and done with lots of good grace. Just like Glasgow herself.