Bin man by day, bartender by night – Nom Wright is not your regular cocktail shaker.
For mixed with the strong spirits he serves up at Edward’s Bar and Eatery in Inverurie is a measure of care and compassion that can be hard to find these days.
With his friendly demeanour and listening ear, it’s no surprise that people regularly open up their hearts to Nom over the bar.
Worldly wise, Nom also has the unique ability to read people’s body language, often spotting when vulnerable customers need help or support.
“One experience that tugged on my heartstrings was when a lassie came into the bar on her own one night and ordered two glasses of wine and two small plates of food,” said Nom, who is one of the bar managers.
“There was something about her body language that made me go over and talk to her.
“So I went over and said ‘if your friend is running late then I can go and re-heat the food’.
“It wasn’t until I started talking to her that she opened up about the fact that her friend had died and that Edward’s was one of the last places they had been to so she was holding onto that memory.
“She was worried that she was taking up space that someone else might need but I said she could take all the time she needs.”
Shaken not stirred
Roped into working a shift behind the bar one Christmas, Nom instantly fell in love with the bar and the sense of community spirit it instils in Inverurie.
Ten years on and Nom’s love of Edward’s Bar is as strong as ever, working the twilight hours pulling pints and shaking up cocktails at the weekend, while during the week he travels across the area as a community waste officer at Aberdeenshire Council.
“With the waste job I’m quite often out in schools so you get staff coming into the bar saying ‘oh he’s a bin manny by day and a barman by night.
“I love the whole interaction with the public and the banter.
“You get to that point where you don’t know people’s names but you know what they’re going to be drinking.”
Gordon Arms Hotel and nightclub
Originally the Gordon Arms Hotel and later a nightclub, where Nom worked, owner Gary Cox has since transformed the granite building into Edward’s, a dog-friendly venue with a restaurant upstairs and a separate bar area downstairs.
“We get couples coming in who got married when it was the hotel which is lovely,” said Nom, 58, who lives in Insch.
“We’re also finding that a lot of the young ones who used to come into the nightclub are now coming out as couples and they’re going ‘we’re coming out as civilised adults now’.
“Recently a couple of lassies came in and said they used to enjoy wild nights out at the weekend and now they come out with friends and sit and have civilised conversations.”
Plenty of new customers
Seeing people back out enjoying themselves never fails to brighten up Nom’s day.
“We’ve been finding that a lot of people are out with their friends again which is lovely,” said Nom.
“We’ve also got quite a few new customers now too.
“The bar is dog friendly downstairs and upstairs, the restaurant is quiet and friendly so you can come in to drink or dine.
“We’re also offering table service for drinks and food.”
Spiced rum punch
From espresso martinis and raspberry bellinis to spiced rum punch and strawberry daiquiris, Nom and the team are certainly movers and shakers when it comes to serving up delicious cocktails.
“We have a cocktail menu which, come the weekend, is quite popular,” said Nom.
“We’re also hoping to dream up some autumn and winter cocktails too.
“We also have Ice breaker IPA, Spey Oddity from Spey Valley and lots of flavoured Whitley Neill gins and Scottish tonics together with soft drinks.
“We’ve never had anyone leave because they were going thirsty.”
Coffee and soft drinks
Coffee lovers are also welcome any time of the day and night as the bar’s coffee machine is always on the go.
With a central location, just a stone’s throw away from the train station, Nom says the bar is often the place where people enjoy ‘one for the road’.
“We’re close to the railway station so we get a lot of people who come in for a few drinks before the train and then come back in later on the way home for one for the road or two or three for the road,” laughed Nom.
Community waste officer
As well as being a familiar face in the bar, Nom is also well-known for his role as a community waste officer.
“The daytime job is about waste and recycling and I also work closely with the bin collection team, supporting people with that,” said Nom.
“My role crosses over to the bar with regards to the food waste side of it.”
For Nom, seeing customers back in the bar after lockdown has been heartening.
“During lockdown, I was thinking about all the customers who are on their own, I was worried about them,” said Nom.
“It was nice to spot them out and about on the street.
“It’s been a big thing for them to get back out and about again so it’s about trying to put them at ease too.”
Asked how people would describe him as a person, Nom said: “Mad, local and friendly,” he quipped.
And when Nom has some rare time to himself he enjoys getting outdoors.
“I enjoy walking and I also started jogging so I need to get back into that again.”
A round of questions with Nom Wright
It’s the end of the day, what do you pour yourself?
A coffee or a coke
If you were a drink, what would you be and why?
A rose wine, cool, summery and attractive? I wish!
Most unusual drink you’ve ever tried?
A dirty pint, many years ago at a works night out. This is a bar tender’s mix of various drinks and mixers and the aim is to down it in one. Nae tae be recommended.
What’s the most underrated drink?
Coffee or wine. It’s amazing how many things can be resolved with a sit doon wi a coffee or wine.
What’s in your drinks cabinet at home?
Wine, rum and a few flavoured gins.
Best food and drink pairing?
Crisps or nuts – the salt makes folk want more drink. Personally, I’d add a few chunks of cheese and some grapes. A bit of a Ploughman’s platter.
If you were stuck on a desert island, what three drinks would be there with you?
Wine Orange Gin, Lemonade and hope there would be ice and fresh fruit to decorate
You have to make a drink to represent Aberdeenshire. What would that be?
A bramble gin representing the purple heather o Bennachie, wi a dash o lemonade representing the Shire.
You have to serve your favourite superhero or celebrity a drink. Who is it and what do you serve?
James Bond, so it would have to be a cocktail, something shaken but not stirred.
Tell us a secret trick of the trade?
Banter – it’s the two-way light-hearted conversations that can make someone’s day.
Edward’s Bar and Eatery is open Monday to Thursday from 11am—10pm and Friday and Saturday 10am—1am.