Andy Gemmell’s Drinks Cabinet
Cawdor Tavern Cawdor, Nairn
What is it: The picturesque conservation village of Cawdor is located 10 miles form Inverness. The Tavern is situated in what was Cawdor castle’s workshop.
During the 1960s, it was turned into a place to eat, drink and relax, predominately for the estate workers. Since then, it has evolved into one of the best pubs in the area.
In 1994, husband and wife team Norman and Christine Sinclair took over Cawdor Tavern and made it their mission to create a place that the locals and visitors would be proud of and which they’d want to keep revisiting.
I spent most of my time in the lounge bar, with its traditional log fire and original oak panelling, which was gifted by the former laird and came from the Cawdor Castle dining room itself.
Interesting fact: Nearby Cawdor Castle is steeped in history and is thought to date back to the mid-1300s, with some historical documents also showing that it may even have been built as early as 1310. Cawdor Castle is steeped in stories, myths and legends, with the most famous being the connection to Shakespeare’s Macbeth, though the historical connection is unfounded since the castle didn’t exist in the 11th century (the time of the real Macbeth).
Verdict: This is the third time I have been here and I loved it just as much as my previous visits. I love the fact that the owners have not tried to update the decor. It feels authentic and real. The service is always friendly and welcoming, which is hugely important, since it’s in this area that many other places fall down. The Cawdor Tavern is a great place to visit with family and friends while visiting the area. On entering, you instantly know that this placed is well-loved and family-run.
Drink: Great selection of wines, beers and spirits are on offer here. You may see quite a wide selection of beers from the Sinclair Brewery group, which incorporates Orkney and Atlas Ales. This is because Orcadian-born Norman Sinclair owns the company. The Orkney Brewery in particular produces multi-awardwinning ales which are sold worldwide; they are all produced on the site which was the original Quoyloo Academy on Orkney, where Sinclair’s father went to school. They have a huge selection, but you have to try the Nimbus, which is a rich, blonde beer packed with flavour. Food: There is a big focus on local Scottish produce here with all the classic dishes you would hope to find in a Highland tavern. I ordered the home-cooked steak and Orkney ale pie with slow braised beef and Dark Island ale, butter mash and vegetables of the day, for £13.50.
Prices: Nothing to complain about. Children: Kid-friendly. Al fresco: There is a nice little patio area out front for the sunnier days.
Perfect for: Exploring the local area before settling down here to some great food and drink. Avoid if: You prefer sticking to the usual city centre venues. Follow me on Twitter @andydrink or on Facebook