Heads & Tales is Edinburgh’s latest new gin bar. What makes this one extra special is that is features a distillery: yes, this is a bar but it also houses two stills. Two gleaming copper contraptions will make gin while you sit in the bar enjoying yourself. What a great idea!
Heads & Tales can be found at 1a Rutland Place. 20 years ago, this was L’Attache, a dark and, as I remember it, dingy night club. The unit’s been empty for a long time and it’s good to see it in use again. Despite knowing where it was, I walked past it the first time I visited. I’ve become blind to the stairs that seem to head into the Rutland’s cellar on Rutland Square. A quick re-adjustment and kind advice from a man hiding in a nearby doorway, saw me on the right route. I headed down the stairs, into the comforting darkness of a gin bar.
Distilled in front of your eyes
The bar houses an Edinburgh Gin distillery with two stills. One’s alembic (curvaceous) and will give a more aromatic spirit, the other has a longer, straighter neck and will result in a purer (less flavourful) spirit. Which you want depends on what you’re making. The stills are relatively small and allow the Edinburhg Gin team to try different combinations of ingredients. Hopefully, we’ll be able to sample some of their experiments. Distilling will start at the beginning of July, once the area has been signed off for safety, and the last practical issues have been worked out. Every work space has its challenges, and these two stills are in a narrow room under the street. Visitors to Heads & Tales can see them in action through windows.
I’ve been a fan of Edinburgh Gin since my very first Edinburgh Gin gin fizz, a blushing glass of prosecco and raspberry gin liqueur. I thought the raspberry fizz couldn’t possibly be topped, until, last year, I had elderflower fizz at the Foodies Festival. It was glorious. At the core of both liqueurs sits Edinburgh Gin’s gin, a pleasant, rounded spirit with the soft warmth of juniper, a certain sweetness and notes of citrus and green apple. It’s a great everyday gin and works well with tonic or in a cocktail.
To me, the idea of having a relaxing G&T within metres of working stills is deeply appealing. The stills are also very attractive. There’s something a little steampunk about Heads & Tales. Not in a bad, rusting iron and random cogs kind of way, but in a gentlemen’s club with wires kind of way. There’s a distillation theme throughout with lots of gleaming copper pipes and the lighting is based on filament bulbs which give off soft orange light. There are lots of interesting spaces to sit in, from the snug vaults you pass on the way in to the bar, to the relaxed wood paneled area I think of as the lounge, and, of course, the bar. The bar mixes tall and low tables to give everyone a good view of the stills.
This is a gin bar so there are lots of gins and gin cocktails on the menu. I like that the cocktails offer interesting flavour combinations and that most cocktails have few ingredients so I expect them to present clean, strong flavours. Don’t want gin? Don’t worry. There are beers and wines too. The bar’s owner, Bruce Hamilton, has over a decade’s experience in the hospitality trade and will use all of his skills to make Heads & Tales a unique experience.
I visited at the press launch and enjoyed myself very much indeed. It was impossible not to. The music stayed true to the speak-easy feel with classic crooners and everyone was in a good mood. The next time I go there probably won’t be guys and gals bringing me canapés, drinks and G&T marshmallows*. Still, I expect I’ll enjoy myself anyway. Heads & Tales has a really relaxed ambiance and there are several cocktails on the menu I want to try.
Featuring the Edinburgh Gin Distillery
1a Rutland Place, Edinburgh, EH1 2AD
Telephone: 0131 229 3402
Pictures courtesy of Taste Communications.
* Fancy some G&T pillows of loveliness? Visit The Marshmallow Lady on 14 Rodney Street, Edinburgh, or www.TheMarshmallowLady.com to buy them online.