“Arrive as a stranger and leave as a friend” is the motto at The Drouthy Laird, a family-run pub, restaurant and live music venue at the beating heart of the Inverurie community.
A world away from the characterless big chain pubs that dominate many a high street, soulmates Lesley Parker and her husband Laird have quite literally poured their heart and soul into creating not just a pub but a community hub where good food, drinks, live music and banter is always on the menu.
And it’s a proper family affair as the couple’s three sons Ben, 18, who is trainee manager, Jack, 26, and Rhys, 23, are all involved in the business.
“When we first took over the building, which was the former British Legion, five years ago, it was always with the idea that we would create somewhere we would want to go together as a couple or as family”, said Lesley
“Just a place where we could take the family to watch live music and somewhere we could go for dancing or dinner with friends.
“So we’ve created a pub where everyone is welcome and it’s all about family.”
Hospitality in the blood
The daughter of hotel owners, hospitality has always been in Lesley’s blood and combined with Laird’s deep love of Inverurie – he is involved in countless community clubs and groups – the couple feel that The Drouthy Laird was their calling of the spirited kind.
“My parents worked in hospitality for most of my life,” said Lesley.
“They owned The Kirkhill Hotel in Gorebridge in Midlothian so me and Laird used to work together at weddings and functions – we loved it.
“It was a real family place and was absolutely the best way to grow up as we had a lot of fun.”
Although Lesley and Laird have known each other from the age of 12, growing up in neighbouring villages, they only started going out in their twenties and have been inseparable ever since.
After getting married and having two of their three sons, the couple moved up to Inverurie when Laird secured an agriculture job with Grampian Country Food Group in 2001.
Scared and unsure about how they would settle into life away from their family and friends, Lesley says Inverurie opened its arms up to them.
“It was daunting because we were moving a three-hour drive away from family but within a week or two of moving, we loved it and now we class Inverurie as our home,” said Lesley.
“We would never want to go anywhere else.
“Laird has been massively involved in lots of community stuff, he’s been a real champion of different things in Inverurie, he loves Inverurie.”
Former British Legion building
Sixteen years later and the couple’s dream of opening their own venue came true when the former British Legion building was put up for lease.
“Laird jumped at the chance to take it on,” said Lesley.
“It was a pub that was in very tired condition but it just had massive potential.
“So we took the lease on in May 2017 and after five years of opening we officially took ownership of the building in July last year.”
From cocktails and local rum to gin and wine, vodka and whisky, The Drouthy Laird has fast become the port of call for the discerning drinker.
“We have a range of vodkas and a huge range of gins on offer which are still massively popular,” said Lesley.
“The most popular gin at the moment would probably be flavoured gins.
“Also people enjoy a good quality gin like Brockman’s with a Fever Tree tonic and a slice of fresh grapefruit and lots of ice.
“In terms of vodka our biggest seller is Smirnoff vodka and people also like Grey Goose.”
Rum fans are also well catered for as the pub stocks Twice Buried Rum which is made in Inverurie.
“Rums are huge just now,” said Lesley.
“We have a range of rums from your basics like Lamb’s rum but again hugely popular is Sailor Jerry spiced rum and Kraken.
“We are supplying a new local company called Twice Buried and that’s hugely popular with ice and ginger ale, that’s a lovely combination.”
For those partial to a cocktail or two, The Drouthy Laird will not disappoint.
“We offer cocktail trees with 12 cocktails so people can choose what cocktails they would like,” said Lesley.
“Some of our most popular cocktails are things like espresso martinis, sex on the beach and a Cosmo which is my favourite.
“The pornstar martini is also very popular and that has vanilla vodka, Passoa, sugar syrup and fresh orange juice.”
Whisky and wine
Whisky connoisseurs need not fret either as there’s drams to suit all tastebuds.
“The most popular whisky is Balvenie and Macallan Gold too,” said Lesley.
“People also enjoy a Dalmore.”
The pub is also well stocked up with popular beers and a selection of wines.
“We have Corona on tap which has been popular and the ales we have are Ossian, John Smith’s, Innes and Gunn. We also have BrewDog Punk IPA.
“There’s also a great selection of wines including the lovely Vendemmia Pinot Grigio and Moondarra which is a lovely Shiraz.
“We also have Speakeasy Pinot Gris, it’s a slightly pink Pinot.”
Just like its unforgettable name, The Drouthy Laird also puts on unforgettable live music nights, showcasing some of the area’s most talented musicians.
“Our live music on a Friday or Saturday night and a Sunday afternoon have been really popular,” said Lesley.
“Laird is a massive advocate of local bands and it gives musicians the chance to perform.”
Seeing people dancing and singing along to live music after so long is something that brings Lesley so much joy.
“We all love music and to be in the pub and hear it and see everyone dancing again and singing is amazing,” said Lesley.
“It’s just a treat to watch them, it’s good fun.”
Playing host to charity functions is also something Lesley and Laird are proud to do while their restaurant, which is on the first floor, has also been a huge hit.
And with four floors, the couple have big plans.
“There’s a massive scope upstairs,” said Lesley.
“Right now we have a function suite upstairs which is opened which we hold functions.
“We’re hoping to have either a private function/wine bar on that second floor and then B&B accommodation on the third floor and then it will probably be office space on the fourth floor.”
With such fantastic staff, who are known as the Drouthy Family on their WhatsApp group chat, and with stellar support from the local community, Lesley and Laird say they are living the dream.
“We just love it, it’s such a lovely place to be and we get to have fun and if we enjoy it, our customers enjoy it too,” said Lesley
“We also have fantastic staff who are like family to us.”
A round of questions with Lesley Parker
It’s the end of the day, what do you pour yourself?
A chilled glass of Pinot Grigio.
If you were a drink, what would you be and why?
Definitely a glass of pinot -it appeals to a variety of people, a quality pinot always tastes great and makes people feel good.
Most unusual drink you’ve ever tried?
Baileys and lemonade.
What’s the most under-rated drink?
A vodka tonic with lots of ice and a slice of fresh lime.
What’s in your drinks cabinet at home?
Vodka, various gins, rum and Drambuie.
Best food and drink pairing?
A glass of Malbec with a perfectly cooked steak.
If you were stuck on a desert island, what three drinks would be there with you?
Pinot, Whitley Neill Blood Orange and a quality tonic.
You have to make a drink to represent Aberdeen/Aberdeenshire. What would that be?
A Balvenie whisky sour – strong, tasty, beautiful and proudly Scottish.
You have to serve your favourite superhero or celebrity a drink. Who is it and what do you serve?
Ricky Gervais as I think the conversation would be hilarious and I would serve him either the whisky sour or a pint of Tennent’s lager, both are traditionally renowned as Scottish drinks and if you serve a good quality product then it can stand up against any of the new contenders.
Tell us a secret trick of the trade?
Always use quality ingredients and love what you do.