Recently I was in Edinburgh with Himself, to gallivant about and generally fall into holes in pavements, thank you Edinburgh City Council. Those of you who follow me on Instagram will know I tried to chronicle and crowd source as much of the trip as possible. The beauty of Instagram and having brilliant followers from all over the world is that when you ask people where you should go, you get wonderful and varied suggestions that as a newbie to the city I wouldn't have found.
So I threw it out to my followers, where is unusual, where do I need to go?
And boy did you guys steer me right!
I was given the suggestion of popping into a bar called Panda & Sons, which was sold to me as a cocktail speak-easy, disguised as a barbershop. Yes please.
So I consulted googlemaps and off we went to the New Town, deserted streets on a Thursday night I couldn't imagine there being a bar nearby until we stumbled across it, and I stumbled into a hole (see Instagram for those pictures). The barbershop fascade would have totally thrown me had I not known about it. So we ventured in and round the corner.
On turning the corner we were presented with a book shelf, what could it be, why it was just a book shelf...or was it?
We ventured down and took a look.
Two books were outstretched and like a Sherlock Holmes mystery we pulled them open and revealed their secret!
Low lighting, candles, the perfumed scent of cloves and something I wasn't able to put my finger on, it felt totally otherworldly. As we sat down a smoke filled bell jar was taken past by one of the waitresses to a table alongside ours. With the most smooth of actions the waitress lifted the lid, scooped the smoke and twirled the lid releasing it around the table, wafting the clove smoke. It was a performance, a full sensory experience. Underneath the smoke, the cocktail in question, award winning, naturally, it's in the menu as:
'BIRDCAGE COCKTAIL We aren’t fans of captivity so we wanted to create a drink where the flavours and aroma only get expressed once it has been set free! Johnnie Walker Gold Reserve, Rhubarb and Lemongrass Shrub, Aperol, Angostura Bitters and Smoked with a Cinnamon and Clove mix.'
The menu is absolutely packed with award winning signature cocktails created by the bar. If you're looking for a blended strawberry daquiri you are really in the wrong place. The cocktails are gourmet, they're designed beautifully, down to their scent and appearance, they are not designed to mask the taste of the alcohol they contain though, like so many cocktails do. My gin cocktail, was added to with toasted coconut water, very subtle but you really have to like the taste of gin for it, again award winning.
'SIAM SAOCO Bacardi Scottish winning cocktail 2013 and chosen by Gary Regan as one of the best new cocktails of 2013. This drink is exotic and curious. Roasted Coconut Water, Bacardi Rum, Thai Sweet Basil and a touch of Agave Nectar.'
I spied a rather unusual cocktail on the menu, the Milkybar Hero, it sounded extremely tasty, the menu said 'Grandpa Walt describes this libation as when Ramos gin fizz fell in love with a White Russian. Tanqueray 10, Noix de St Jean, Grand Marnier, Rose Water and Condensed Milk.'
Arriving in a little milk crate, the miniature milk bottles pack an unbelievable punch. I was expecting a mild milky cocktail, well let me tell you this one warmed me right up. Absolutely gorgeous, they're so tiny but really, I found it a struggle managing two!
The cocktails are extremely well priced, around the £7-9 mark, which for the expertise, quality and atmosphere is fabulous.
I loved this bar, it is very cavern-like and wholly indulgent and feels every inch the modern speakeasy. A must see for you vintage lovers out there!