Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks in to mine.
Well, of course she did – it’s where we arranged to meet before catching a show at the Edinburgh Festival.
Gin joints are the biggest thing in the bar world just now, with ‘speakeasies’ springing up faster than you can say ‘Play it again, Sam’. Gin, once relegated to your mum’s Christmas party tipple, is cooler than ever and last year 12 per cent more gin was sold in bars than in 2012.
I’ve been a long time gin lover, so when my friend Stef was up from London and suggested meeting at Heads and Tales I jumped at the chance.
The bar is where Edinburgh Gin Company makes its product, and the two stills – Flora and Caledonia – are proudly on display behind a glass partition.
But Heads and Tales also stocks over 30 gins from other suppliers as well as premium beers, spirits and wines.
Stef is the global brand ambassador for a swanky rum and has a seemingly endless supply of grog at her disposal.
Yes, she really does get paid to travel the world, drinking rum!
She is also always ahead of the pack with the inside knowledge on the best bars and restaurants all over the world and Heads and Tales, which opened on World Gin Day in June, is no exception.
Tucked under The Rutland Bar across from Frasers, Heads and Tales is announced with a discreet brass sign. So discreet, I walked straight past it. But it’s worth hunting down; the basement interior is all exposed stone, leather and tweed – where Sean Connery would meet Sherlock Holmes for a drink, I imagine.
The cocktail list is petite, but owner Bruce was happy to make alterations to drinks, or mix a classic for us. My Bathtub Gin – Hendricks with elderflower and violets was incredible and the others drinks didn’t last long either.
The bar does sharing platters that change regularly, and we opted for a huge pile of food including breads, smoked salmon, trout pate, various cheeses and cured meats. Each dish is a very reasonable £1.75-£3 and the menu changes regularly, in keeping with Heads and Tales ethos, using fresh, local produce.
We ended our visit with another round of drinks, this time going with a Millionaire – Stef’s rum, El Dorado mixed with sloe, citrus and apricot and served with an edible £1 million pound note.
Then it was time to leave for the show, we climbed from the safe, cosy basement cocoon back to the madness of the Edinburgh Festival above.