Drink: Smoothly does it

A bar for the palate rather than the quick fix? That's Glasgow's Air Organic, where you won't find happy-hour hounds
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Indy Lifestyle Online
Glasgow, 1999: the motto is design. And design is especially in evidence in the city's bars. Tun Ton, Balsa, Strata, and the relaunched Tron trip off the tongues of design-conscious drinkers. But one bar-restaurant has really taken flight. Air Organic is not a hangar-sized space (unlike some), and, positioned between the west end and city centre, is where young professionals can comfortably chill. They come for a smoothly cubic space in cool neutrals in the Sixties futurist mould (a first-time design by Glasgow sculptor Dene Happell), for music that eschews insistent house, and for drinks that tend to good taste, not quick alcohol fixes. "There are no 60p shots here; we don't get the happy-hour hounds," says general manager Kevan Cargill.

True, most people drink draught Stella or house Chardonnay, and leave their nicotine marks on the white laminate surfaces, but they can also recover over wholesome smoothies. At either extreme, wheatgrass and absinth shots are offered; in between there's organic draught beer and wines. Upstairs in the restaurant, the food is mainly organic; below, in the bar, meals come on airline trays, but the Miami airport lounge look includes real fireplaces for winter evenings. Drinks are served at tables or from giant hatches in the wall, so there's no vying for a bartender's attention. And there's a table-football machine: very Continental. So too is the outside seating, where giant heaters battle the chill that results from sitting outside Glasgow's coolest bar.

Air Organic, 36 Kelvingrove Street, Glasgow (0141 564 5201). Sun-Thur 11am-11pm, Fri and Sat 11am-midnight

Air Organic drinks

Bonterra Chardonnay, Fetzer, 1996

This is the most popular of Air Organic's range of organic wines. The name is already well known to those customers who are prepared to spend pounds 17 on their tipple. This full, creamy Californian Chardonnay never has a bad word said about it, although, as general manager Kevan Cargill frankly confesses, "It's a wee bit pricey." He recommends it though: "Chill it right down, quaff it up. It's amazing."

Mr Orange

Named after one of Reservoir Dogs' colour-coded characters, this drink is known for its healthy content - vitamin C, B-complex, bioflavonoids, potassium, zinc and phosphorous, beta carotene, potassium and vitamin C. The price is pounds 2.

Ingredients: equal amounts of frozen yoghurt and orange juice, a spoonful of honey, and a whole fresh mango from the juicer. Blend together and pour over four ice cubes - not clinking with ice mountains like a G&T.

Golden Promise

From Edinburgh's Caledonian Brewery, this cask-conditioned ale - the world's first organic beer - has to be kept carefully. Air Organic sells a couple of kegs a week at pounds 2.20 a pint: it's a giveaway price, they say, but they want you to try it. It's 5 per cent by volume, aromatic and, once poured and settled, is a dark gold which doesn't put off lager drinkers, says Cargill. "People don't like fizzy, mucky-looking beers," he reckons. "It needs looking after. Keep it cool: don't let air in at night."

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