Get Your Gin Fix (And More) at Heads & Tales, Edinburgh

A good bar is hard to come by. One that sells watered-down drinks for cheap? Easy enough to pinpoint in any student area. A well-known chain that serves thousands of sickly-sweet cocktail combos? Walk down any High Street and you'll find one. But a bar that feels truly special with a well thought out drinks menu, that won't break the bank? Now that's one in a million. 

In Edinburgh, you'll find those rare qualities that make a bar a winner at Heads & Tales. Leading the charges on the newest (and arguably tastiest) trend in spirits, Heads & Tales aims its focus on craft gin. With a nod to the city's most loved gin- that is, Edinburgh Gin- this bar keeps things as local as possible. Just next door, Edinburgh Gin distills its iconic spirit for the masses. 

Hidden away from the busy intersection of Princes Street and Lothian Road, this subterranean bar feels like another world. Walk down the narrow hallway, passing by stunning private booths as you go, and enter into the sophisticated, but equally cozy, main bar area. Heads & Tales doesn't fall into the trap of being too dimly lit or too bright, achieving a feeling of intimacy without sacrificing your ability to read the menu. With copped accents and cushioned armchairs, you can enjoy the trendy atmosphere in comfort.

Bearded bartenders take on the double role of waiters, so you'll never have to push to the front of a queue to get your order in. Our waiter was attentive, charming, and most importantly knowledgable about the menu. After all, they're not just serving plain ol' G&Ts. 

You'll likely need their expertise to advise you on the Gin It Yourself (or, GIY) menu, lest you prefer to delve into the world of craft gin on your own. The prospect of creating our own cocktails tempted us to embrace this freedom, but our waiter's advice was more than welcomed. Wondering how to GIY like a pro? First, pick your glass (easy enough). Then, I'd say the next best step is to choose either your gin or your "descriptor" and ask for the waiter's recommendations for the rest. 

As someone who enjoys sour flavors, I naturally gravitated toward the "tart" descriptor, knowing full well that a martini glass was also in my future (elegance is key). Unsure of which of the selected gins would pair well with tart flavors, our waiter recommended a gin with floral notes to balance out the cocktail. Ben had his sights set on the Blackwoods 60 gin, which the waiter said would pair well with an herbal finish. 

Because we only chose descriptors (rather than exact pairings) our cocktails were nearly a complete surprise! In fact, we had to play a bit of a guessing game to figure out what had been used to make our drinks. My best guess? Mine had a bit of blood orange and, of course, the classic "sour" of egg white. 

To complement our drinks, we ordered up some bar bites. The spicy, sticky chicken wings had us savoring every last bite, and the haggis bon bons dipped in a mustard sauce were a delightful Scottish treat. But the real star of the show? The monkfish scampi. This fresh, meaty fish deep-fried in a crispy coating was sinfully delicious. Heads & Tales also offers up some stunning sharing boards which I would happily partake in the next time I visit. 

Having noshed down on some nibbles and sipped every last drop of our cocktails, another round was in order. While we were still tempted to give GIY another go (who doesn't love surprises?), we switched our attention to the standard cocktail menu to see if anything suited our fancy. Both of us stayed on the gin track, with me ordering up a Plymouth Blitz and Ben opting for the Uaine Swizzle. 

The Plymouth Blitz combined famous Plymouth gin with campari (a favorite of mine), orange colombo and creme de pamplemousse rose. This combo resulted in a citrusy, refreshing, yet understated drink that had similar tasting notes to a negroni (yet far more pleasing, in my opinion). 

The Uaine Swizzle was a true work of art. Sliced strawberries, a mound of shaped ice, and mint topped off this herbal cocktail that consisted of green chartreuse and creme de menthe. Served in a copper mug, this cocktail was whimsical without being too flashy.    

Despite having thoroughly sampled cocktails of all kinds, a gin and tonic to top off the night was in order- after all, with such an extensive list of gins, it would be wrong to not try them in their most classic form. So we ordered up a round of G & Ts with pairing advice from our waiter- all in the name of journalism, of course. 

Heads & Tales is the home of Edinburgh Gin, so it was only fitting that we stuck with a local serve. My Valentines gin and Fevertree tonic garnished with mixed berries was the stuff that girly dreams are made of. Fruity, but with a hint of rose flavor, I couldn't have picked a better drink. Ben's Seaside gin was full of botanicals that take you straight to the shore. Paired with grapefruit and elderflower tonic, it was the perfect summer tipple. 

Boasting masterful bartenders, imaginative cocktails, and a seemingly endless list of gins, Heads & Tales is the ideal spot for gin-lovers and cocktail aficionados alike. The perfect hideaway from the Scottish rain, this bar offers a feeling of exclusivity and comfort that is sure to make anyone feel special- whether it's a first date or a catch up with friends. No matter what the occasion, I know that Heads & Tales will be at the top of my list for the next time that a good (and I mean really good) drink is in order.      

Thank you to Heads & Tales and the team at Crimson Edge for inviting me for a review. You can find out more about Heads & Tales and see their sample menus on their website here


  1. Mmmmm looks delicious! I fancied the monkfish when we visited but Charlotte's not a huge monkfish fan so we got the mac and cheese bites. Which were great but I'll just have to go back to try the monkfish ;)


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