A BAR disguised as a barber shop has become Scotland’s first living wage cocktail bar.

Edinburgh’s Panda and Sons, which has received international acclaim by way of being recognised as being in the world’s top five high volume cocktail bars, is owned by Iain McPherson who is determined to pay a decent wage.

McPherson, who also owns Hoots the Redeemer, another Edinburgh cocktail bar, said: “I worked on the minimum wage and I know how hard it is.

“Making cocktails is quite a skilled job and I don’t see the minimum wage as fair pay for what you have to do.

“There is an old mind-set that bar work is minimum wage work. But actually this industry is really labour intensive as well as being creative.

“The bar industry is evolving to meet consumer desires and the pay needs to reflect that. But in many cases the pay is getting left in the dark ages.”

He added: “Paying a decent wage is a sign of respect – it shows the respect that I have my employees and I get that respect back.

“Profiting by not paying staff well doesn’t sit well with me, I would rather profit on actually making a profit. I want to show that you can make your business profitable and still pay your staff fairly: well paid staff are more productive.

“If you pay them well, treat them right and make sure they are happy they work harder, so it’s full circle because if you look after them they look after the business.”

There are 18 staff employed at the two bars, with another due to open soon in Leith. “They’re quite different from normal cocktail bars,” said McPherson, who opened Panda in 2013 after seeing a market for a good cocktail bar in Edinburgh.

“Panda looks like a barber shop from the outside, then you enter through a bookcase into the bar where we do very theatrical, exciting cocktails.”?Jono McDowell, who is the co-general manager at Panda and has been in the industry for 12 years working in Sydney, London and Edinburgh said there was a “big conversation” happening at the moment between bars about the living wage.

“Panda has been leading that conversation,” he said.

“Hospitality is now a career; people join us and want to progress.

“Employers need to look after their bartenders and other staff to help them progress and grow.

“The living wage is part of that.”

Leon Back, who has been a bartender at Panda for two years and has worked in cocktail bars for six, said this was the best wage he had been paid so far.

“Professionally it gives me the motivation to come in and work harder every day but it also gives you a great work life balance,” he said.

“When you’re outside of work it’s important to be able to enjoy what you do and being paid the real living wage means you’re not in the house eating baked beans.

It means you can actually enjoy the city that you are working in, hang out with your friends or spend a bit of money on yourself by going on trips or a holiday for example.”