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Heads & Tales
New Review
Heads & Tales Bar
Featuring the Edinburgh Gin Distillery,
1a Rutland Place,
Edinburgh,
Midlothian,
EH1 2AD
0131 656 2811
Tue-Sun 5pm-late

Once descended through the plain wooden door of this well-hidden cocktail heaven, your senses may spin a little.  Not necessarily due to the strength of the house pours, but with the feeling of liberation from the maelstrom outside, while still in the very heart and soul of the city.  Hammered copper menu boards echo the working Edinburgh gin stills on display in the bar.

The mixologist maestro here, Sharon, ably assisted by Sarah who took the time to explain our drinks, epitomised the high end of cocktail craftsmanship.  We had attended a cocktail launch at the other end of town the previous week where every fruit & ingestible was thrown at the concoctions leaving us and the servers confused, with muddled fruity flavours having little discernible light, shade, depth or worthwhile combinations. 

But here we were impressed, and pleasantly surprised.  Madam Bite began smoothly with an Origins gin served with Fever Tree premium tonic, lower in quinine, the better to taste the gin. Patrons are  encouraged to customise some spirits with fruit & essences to create their own 'perfect serves'.  My own Bombai Thai Orange & Almond cocktail, created with Bombay Dry (as opposed to Sapphire) gin and Orgeat syrup was so delicious I was reluctant to let go of its flavour by selecting another drink. 

Mdm Bite had by this time moved to a St Germain des Pres.  Its floral Hendricks gin and elderflower liqueur envisioned  a sweet romp through suburban Parisian meadows.  But as its green element emanated from house green chilli syrup, it took on a more complex edge.  For the sake of experiment, I tackled an  'Unusual Collins', a hangover from the Christmas menu (literally in the case of the spray of frosted cranberries over the top).   The unusual part was the beetroot and grape content, which had been expertly judged so that instead of a thin red fruit drink it offered rich & rounded antioxidant pleasure.  We also tried Rock Rose gin martinis, with our selected twists - mine down & dirty with a spear of green olives, whilst Lady Bite kept it clean with a lemon peel spiral.  Delightful.

Nibbles are 4 simple choices of carefully selected quality beef, smoked fish, vegetarian  or British cheese platters, served with tasty toasted sourdough crostini. With those around £8 each, and cocktails averaging £7.50 each in fabulous ambient caverns  - race you downstairs. (The Go-Between). 


 

 


Opening Review 2014
Like most of the best basement bars the decor is a bit eclectic. Behind three massive panes of glass are the two working stills of Edinburgh Gin. Keeping up the distillery theme, there is a lot of brick and copper, and yet the whole place is effortlessly comfortable when it comes time to have that first martini. Leather armchairs and some Victorian / Edwardian furnishings give the impression of a gentleman's club gone slightly awry. And for those seeking some privacy hide yourself away in one of the compact little cellar booths.


And what about the drinks? Well the menu is dominated by gin cocktails, so no surprise there. I like the approach of listing the flavours, rather than the ingredients, even if that does lead to a "I'm not sure that will work" moment. And the back bar is a gin lover's idea of paradise.


 First up for D was the Otto Titsling's Muse (£7.00) combining Edinburgh Gin, vanilla, citrus & bramble. This is a tart, strong lip smacker, a really wonderfully refreshing summer drink, even if the vanilla was as fleeting as an Englishman at the World Cup Finals.


 I had to try a Thyme 4 A Bru (£8.00) with Botanist Gin, orange, raisin  Irn Bru. This was that "I'm not sure that will work" moment. But blow me down,Scotland's other National Drink and that most English of spirits (albeit one distilled on the whisky paradise of Islay) are a match made in heaven. 


These were followed by a Bathtub Gin (£7.50).Made with Hendricks Gin, violets and elderflower. A violet scented sherbet foam topped lovely little tippler. Good job I was typing and not dictating! Finally D had a Dukes Martini (£7.00), which although not on the menu, they were happy to make once we informed them how to do so. Ever since live music stopped in L'Attache I've tended to avoid the West End (it's an age thing).


Now, finally, I have a great reason to go back!
(M. Earl)

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