I spent my evening hours at the River House restaurant with my classmates, officially ordering my first alcoholic beverage. I felt overwhelmed by the elaborate names blended onto the pages of the menu, and it was a few minutes before I finally decided on a strawberry Bellini cocktail. It was completely new to me on my twenty-first birthday. Not only was I turning twenty-one, but I was spending my birthday in Scotland. The pink beverage gradually reduced throughout the meal. I only drank a third of it. It was enough for me. Instead I finished my entree: a portion of cod placed atop a mound of roasted vegetables. The vibrant colors of the tomatoes and other vegetables complemented the pale fish.
We headed to the pub when we finished, walking across a bridge that bounced with every step. We crossed the road to an alley splattered with bird droppings, coming to a cobblestone road lined with various stores. But we weren’t looking for a store.It took us a few minutes to find the pub Hootenannies after a short walk past multiple cafes and other pubs. I wasn’t surprised when the bouncer asked for my ID. In fact, I would have been surprised if he hadn’t. Walking through the door, we entered a large, dimly lit room full of people and loud voices.
The musicians hadn’t started playing, but I could hear the occasional pluck of a string over the chorus of voices as they tuned their instruments. The dark building was lit with sparingly placed lamps hanging from the ceiling. A red glow spread across the tables and cast shadows in the corner. Lacking knowledge of alcohol, I ordered what the others had: famous grouse and ginger beer. On a post near the bar was a page titled “A Guide to Ordering Your Drinks,” which was filled with sarcastic suggestions for what to do when ordering. The musicians had begun playing by the time I returned to the table with my beverage. There were three of them, each playing a different instrument; one played a violin and one a cello, and one looked like Eddie Redmayne (Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) playing the guitar. They mixed up their tempos, varying from upbeat songs to slow songs that blended well with the chatter and the clinking of bottles and glasses. The music continued and the night went in time with it.