Bar Tab: Elsa’s, The Fife Arms, Braemar

On a recent Thursday evening, a man in a rural green jumper and box-fresh black Vans approaches the ornately carved bar in this wood-paneled anteroom.  A staging post on the journey between the real world and dinner time.  He orders a “fresh whisky and soda”, and after some deliberation requests that it be garnished with rose petals.  The barman retreats – to squeeze the whisky, one presumes – and in the silence, it occurs that Elsa would approve of the order.  Perhaps it is her influence that has inspired this gentleman’s request.  Her mark is made large across the room, from the first name scrawled across the back bar mirror as if in lipstick, to the disco ball the size of a small moon, and the dashes of shocking pink on the surrealist coasters.  For Elsa is none other than friend of Dalí and Cocteau, rival of Chanel and dressmaker to Mae West – Italian fashionista Elsa Schiaparelli.  She lounges in a frame in the far corner of the room, keeping a louche eye on the bar and the dreary clientele who can’t possibly live up to her expectations.  For Elsa was a force of nature, an inspiration to the fashionistas of Deeside and the inventor of the speakeasy dress (with a hidden pocket for a flask, of course).  No such outfits are required in her bar this evening.  The fresh whisky sparkles in its soda and rose petals, it is companioned by a short glass of dark yellow, topped with a thick banana foam.  Across the room, two quick dry martinis are served up, and the barman scuttles to the kitchen to forage for “anything pickled” to turn one into a Gibson.  More guests float in as Elsa looks on.  A wrap dress, bright trousers with pockets; perhaps she isn’t forgotten, perhaps these new patrons do deserve her attention after all. (The Fife Arms, Mar Road, Braemar Read more Bar Tabs here.