REVIEW : Heads and Tales Gin Bar, Edinburgh

Heads and Tales Gin Bar is still one of the best hidden gems in Edinburgh although located in plain sight, nestled between The Huxley and Ghillie Dhu.

The entrance doesn’t give much away, a banner attached to a railing and some twinkle lights lead you down a staircase to the basement.

Welcome to the home of Edinburgh Gin!

We were invited to go along to Heads and Tales to try out some of their new cocktails and the Asian Inspired menu.

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Its quite dark inside Heads and Tales so the photographs reflect that.

Our first cocktail – The Imperial Haar (a sharing cocktail) made with Jinzu (Scottish gin), Umeshu (liqueur made by stewing ume plums), Plum & Vanilla Edinburgh Gin, Cherry bitters and Lemon and Ginger tea.

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Served in a kyusu (Japanese teapot) with two black teacups; this is one cocktail that certainly knows how to make an entrance. It’s quite strong on the gin but easy enough to continue to sip until there is none left.

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Next up, the Velvet Thunder made from Brooklyn Gin, Cointreau, Chambord, Honey, Basil, Raspberry and Citrus.

The raspberry flavour is quite prevalent here with the Chambord and the raspberries; a little sweetness coming through from the honey and zing from the cointreau. Quite a complex little cocktail.

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Fly on the Wall – Blue Bottle Gin, Peach, Vanilla, Orange bitters, Apple, Cardamom and Citrus.

I chose this one solely on the fact that it has cardamom in it and I wanted to try something different. It’s like a slush puppy, with lots of ice. Very fruity indeed but with a good strong tang at the end.

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Yarra Reviver – Four Pillars Bloody Shiraz Gin, Mandarin, Lillet Blanc (an aperatif wine) and Citrus.

Very similar tasting to the Velvet Thunder; strong with heavy notes of citrus.

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Hooked on a Feeling – Edinburgh Gin, Aperol, Cacao Blanc liqueur, Strawberry. Peychaud’s bitters and Citrus.

A really sexy easy drinking wee cocktails this. Light and refreshing.

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Now onto the food. The Asian inspired menu is new to Heads and Tales. Its a short and concise menu which for someone like me who battles to make foodie decisions, makes choosing so much easier.

Chicken Satay Skewers with Bangkok Peanut sauce and Sambal are my top choice on the menu. The chicken was super tender, succulent and soft but ever so tasty. I love peanut sauce so wholeheartedly tucked into these. Nice portion size – three large skewers with three pieces of chicken on each.

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Master Stock Braised Brisket Bao with Chinese Black Pepper Glaze and Crispy Onion. Hands up, I have to admit it, I am not a fan of a bao bun and I’ve tasted a few in my foodie life. The bun was soft with a good bounce back though and the brisket was well cooked and flavourful.

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Gyukatsu Beef with Café de Paris butter and Kimchi didn’t hit the spot for me. It was a bit bland – perhaps that was why the kimchi was served alongside it.

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As you all know, I love gyoza. I love dunking them in the wee bowl of thick soy sauce but I do prefer them fried and steamed rather than just steamed. These Pork Sui gyoza and the green Vegetable Gyoza Dumplings come in the bamboo steamer. Vegetable gyoza on the bottom tier with the pork ones on the top.

Unfortunately, we left these dumplings sitting for a while whilst we ate some of the other dishes and sipped on cocktails, meaning that the dumpling skins got a little too soft and soggy and stuck to the bottom of the steamer. Note to self – eat these as soon as they come to the table. They were tasty though.

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Lastly, this is the dessert the staff all seems to be talking about – the Rolo Prosperity Bao with Miso Caramel Sauce. It’s kinda like a hot savoury squiggier doughnut with a melted rolo in the middle. The caramel miso strangely works and is very more-ish.

Heads and Tales bar is always busy. It’s a hotspot for gin tasting and it is where you get to see the two active Edinburgh Gin stills, Flora and Caledonia, in action creating some of Edinburgh’s best gins.

Patrons are a good mix of young and old, couples, groups of ladies out gin tasting, and friends just wanting to catch up. It can be quite noisy but it is a bar.

The food is good, but more snacks and nibbles rather than a meal – perfect for nibbling on whilst sipping on your cocktails.

However, I am not sure where the Asian menu fits into the mix. I’d rather see a full Scottish menu here to enhance and accompany the Edinburgh Gin theme as as it is the home of Edinburgh Gin after all; perhaps a gin inspired food menu would have been better suited.

Heads & Tales Bar, Featuring the Edinburgh Gin Distillery, 1a Rutland Place, Edinburgh EH1 2AD.

Tel : 0131 656 2811 www.headsandtalesbar.com

My Spoon Award : Bronze Spoon 7/10

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I was invited by Heads and Tales Gin Bar to review their menu. Food and drink were complimentary but the views are very much my own.