I don't spend nearly as much time as I'd like to in Edinburgh these days, despite it only being a short train journey away. As a result, I don't really know much about the Edinburgh food scene, but now that I've pretty much eaten my way around Glasgow I thought it was about time to get started on Edinburgh's host of restaurants and bars too. I was invited along to review Heads and Tales, a gin bar located just off of Princes Street, so I recruited my original blogging bestie Hayley for a night of cocktails and catch ups to see how it fared.
Heads and Tales is home to two Edinburgh Gin stills, which is a particular favourite of mine, so I was really excited to get stuck into their menu. The bar itself is located underneath The Huxley restaurant and at first glance, it's easily missed, but when you descend the stairs under a canopy of fairy lights you'll feel at home straight away. With a mix of cosy cave booths, comfy armchairs and towering tables this sprawling bar is definitely a gem hiding away from the hustle and bustle of Edinburgh city centre.
As we settled into our comfy armchairs tucked in a corner beside the bar, our server talked us through the selection of drinks and food on offer. Heads and Tales have an array of house cocktails, but what caught our attention first was the concept of the "Gin It Yourself" cocktails. These GIY cocktails are concocted through four steps - pick a glass, pick a gin, pick a flavour then drink! There was a real variety of flavours on offer including Honey, Star Anise, Watermelon and even Butternut Squash to name just a few, and our waiter talked us through what flavours worked best with what gin to give us an idea of what to go for. The bar then create your own personalised cocktail based on your selection of flavours, making it a really unique experience and adding a bit of fun to an evening drink.
My flavour of choice was Orange Blossom paired with Edinburgh Gin (I told you I was a big fan) in a highball glass which resulted in a delightfully fresh and fruity concoction. I really enjoy citrus cocktails, so this was the perfect choice for me as it wasn't too sweet. Hayley had decided on a Cardamon flavouring, and after a recommendation from our very knowledgeable server decided to pair it with the Haymans Old Tom gin which was a little bit sweeter than your standard gin.
Alongside their amazing range of cocktails, Heads and Tales also offer a selection of delicious bar snacks to line your stomach whilst you sip. After some deliberation, Hayley and I decided to order the Mac & Cheese Bites, Haggis Bon Bons and the BBQ Ribs from the light bites to nibble on whilst we caught up. Other mouthwatering options included a Baked Camembert (hard to resist!), a selection of mixed boards and Garlic Butter Fries - which Hayley tells me are delicious. Despite being priced between £3 and £6, the light bites boast very generous portion sizes, making it brilliant value for money. Who can resist a little snack, anyway? Not me, that's for sure.
Our choices arrived really quickly and we soon set about taste testing everything - for the sake of the blog, obviously... - and we were very pleasantly surprised with our selection. The Mac & Cheese Bites were coated in a crispy golden breadcrumb hiding a gooey, cheesy centre. I could eat nothing but these for the rest of my life and I'd be pretty damn happy! Particularly when paired with the delicious Bloody Mary Ketchup that comes alongside, with a tangy, fresh flavour that works perfectly with the cheese.
The Haggis Bon Bons came in a similar crispy golden breadcrumb coating to bite into and reveal a creamy haggis centre, with that familiar warm, slightly spicy taste that haggis fans know and love. These were served with a Grain Mustard Mayo, which I wasn't expecting to be a fan of, but when combined with the flavours of the haggis it created a delicious pairing.
For a "light bite", the portion of BBQ Ribs exceeds expectations based on size alone, looking more like a full portion than a snack. The ribs had a beautiful seasoning, with the perfect balance of sticky barbeque sauce and tender meat that fell off the bone without any effort.
To finish, we decided to try out a couple of the house cocktails from the drinks menu to see how they fared in comparison to the GIY offering. I was particularly drawn to two cocktails, the Trifle, a mix of vodka, lemon, grapefruit, Cocchi Rosa and Creme de Framboise, and the Low Winter Sun which contained Havana 7 Rum, Velvet Falernum, Pimento Dram, vermouth, pineapple and citrus. In the end, my love of tropical flavours won me over and I chose the Low Winter Sun which was as delicious as I expected. It would be perfect on a sunny day by the sea, and the tropical flavour combination had me dreaming of summer holidays and cocktails at sunset.
Hayley's choice of cocktail was called Bury The Hatchet and contained Monkey Shoulder Whiskey, Rhubarb & Ginger Edinburgh Gin, Antica Formula and bitters which was quite similar to an Old Fashioned with a bit of a kick from the ginger. Not quite my kind of drink, but Hayley enjoyed it and I know that it would be up my boyfriend's street too!
Our experience at Heads and Tales couldn't have been better, really. The cocktails were delicious and we particularly enjoyed the personalisation aspect of the GIY concept, with assistance from our welcoming and knowledgeable server! The warm welcome and cosy atmosphere creates the perfect location for an intimate evening catch up over a tipple or two, with the menu offering a fantastic selection of nibbles to keep you going. I'll definitely be heading back again next time I'm through in the capital for more of those Mac & Cheese Bites and a mouthwatering GIY cocktail concoction.
Find Heads and Tales at 1a Rutland Place, Edinburgh
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Our experience was complimentary for review purposes - read my full disclaimer here