You’d like a fun restaurant review to kill five minutes on a Sunday evening.
Oh look, I’ve got just the thing for you!
Our latest review of Umi in Edinburgh is over in the Edinburgh & the East section of the website or right here
Edinburgh Cocktail Week returns this autumn, Monday 14th – Sunday 20th October, with another fun-filled week of cocktail festivities across the capital including a new Cocktail Forest, Rooftop Cocktail Domes at The Glasshouse Hotel, an expanded Cocktail Village at Festival Square and 70 of Edinburgh’s finest cocktail bars.
Following its successful introduction to the festival last year, the Cocktail Village returns to Festival Square, expanding in size and experience with a new Forest themed extension. The Cocktail Forest is a dark enchanted space featuring a wigwam, fire pit, forest floor & canopy, pop-up bars, giant toadstools, twinkling star sky and mythical forest creatures - inviting festivalgoers to escape the city and go ‘camping with cocktails’.
The Cocktail Village will again act as the social epicentre of the week-long festival, bursting with 19 pop-up bars, masterclasses, live music and entertainment. It is beautifully decorated in the style of an autumn garden with grass flooring, a clear rooftop, swings, picnic tables and floral installations by Dobbies Garden Centres – making guests feel like they are at an outdoor festival while being in the comfort of an enclosed marquee. Entry to both the Cocktail Village and Forest is free with an ECW wristband (£6 weekday / £8 weekend) and all cocktails inside are just £4 each. Pop-up bars this year include Edinburgh Gin with Brewhemia, Belvedere Vodka, Patron Tequila with 4042, Johnnie Walker, Highland Park, Eden Mill with The Raging Bull, Lindores Abbey, the Herringbone Horsebox and a special ‘Temple of Rum’ bar from The Pop Up Geeks and Don Q rum, with more to be announced over the coming months. In addition to cocktails, there will also be a beer and soft drinks offering as well as a new outdoor street food area covered by a stretch tent, creating a hangout space to enjoy some tasty eats.
Another very exciting addition to this year’s festival is the installation of Cocktail Domes on the rooftop garden of The Glasshouse Hotel (next to the Omni Centre) creating a second pop-up site for wristband-holders to visit throughout the week. This is the first time these fully transparent domes will appear in Edinburgh, offering festivalgoers a unique opportunity to enjoy views of the city’s iconic skyline while snapping Instagram-worthy pictured and sipping on a menu of £4 cocktails (gin, rum, vodka and Johnnie Walker whisky). Each dome comfortably seats 8-10 people and will be styled with sofas, cushions, blankets, rugs and fairy lights to create a super-cute and cosy setting for guests to relax in. Demand for the Cocktail Domes is expected to be high, so a reservation system will be in place to secure private domes for groups of friends, while a number of domes will be kept available for walk-ins.
Between visiting the Cocktail Village, Forest and Rootop Domes, wristband-holders can also take a cocktail adventure around the city enjoying £4 signature cocktails from 70 of Edinburgh’s finest cocktail bars. New bars this year include Cold Town House in the Grassmarket, The Raging Bull, Smoke & Mirrors, The Barologist, Camera, Damm 27, The Garden, Brewdog, Heads & Tales and Scott’s on Princes Street, along with returning favourites The Refinery, Harvey Nichols, Tigerlily, Tonic, Copper Blossom, The Voyage of Buck and Brewhemia. This year’s printed ECW Guide will also include a handy map to help festivalgoers navigate between bars and pop-up spaces.
The Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh – The Caledonian Hotel will also be joining in the festivities this year by serving a special cocktail themed Afternoon Tea throughout the week for £29.50 per person (normally £57) in their stunning Peacock Alley. Afternoon tea includes two cocktails each and a selection of savoury finger sandwiches, homemade scones, decadent treats and over thirty fine loose-leaf teas and herbal infusions to choose from, with vegan and gluten-free options also available. Bookings can be made via the ECW website.
Throughout the week there will also be a programme of events and parties across the capital as brands and bars collaborate to host bartender takeovers, educational masterclasses and tastings, parties and cocktail-making competitions. The full programme of events and experiences will be published in September, with those who have pre-booked wristbands online being given priority access to tickets.
With cocktail-enthusiasts travelling from as far as Australia and São Paula to experience Edinburgh Cocktail Week, the festival has partnered with Apex Hotels in Edinburgh to offer 10% off stays at any of their four city centre hotels (two are located at the Grassmarket, one at Waterloo Place and one at Haymarket). Festivalgoers can take advantage of this offer by using promo code ECW2019 when booking online at www.apexhotels.co.uk/ecw. See the website for full T&Cs. Apex Waterloo Place and Apex Grassmarket Hotels will be serving a £4 signature cocktail to wristband-holders. What’s more, 2019 is a special year for Apex Hotels, as they mark the 200th anniversary of Apex Waterloo Place Hotel – Edinburgh’s first ever large-scale hotel. And what better way to mark the anniversary than with a tipple! The team at the hotel have collaborated with Eden Mill to craft a bespoke gin, aptly named ‘The 1819’.
Wristbands are on sale now at www.edinburghcocktailweek.co.uk priced at £6 for a weekday wristband (valid Monday – Friday), £8 for a weekend wristband (valid Saturday & Sunday) and £13.50 for a week-long wristband.
Popular festival celebrating the country’s national drink heading North for the first time ever following successful events in Glasgow, Paisley and Edinburgh.
The National Whisky Festival of Scotland is making its way to Aberdeen for the first time ever following popular events in Glasgow, Paisley and Edinburgh.
On Saturday 14 September, Aberdeen Music Hall will play host to this unique Scottish culture and whisky tasting event which has become a popular staple of Glasgow’s Celtic Connections festival and recently debuted at Paisley’s Spree festival.
The NWF is truly a whisky drinker’s paradise, and the debut voyage to Aberdeen is expected to produce one of the most ambitious instalments yet, featuring over 30 exhibitors from some of the most exciting names in the industry, with over 100 different whiskies/expressions available to try - all included in the ticket price.
Following the format of previous festivals, the Aberdeen edition will offer two three-and-a-half hour sessions of unique whisky tastings as well as incredible live music and plenty of delicious, hearty local food to see you right after all those drams!
There will also be the opportunity for visitors to attend one of 12 whisky tasting Masterclasses (six per session - to be booked separately) to help sharpen their knowledge and hone their tasting skills.
Full info on the Masterclasses will be released prior to the event, however, previous classes have included A Taste of Goa, presented by Paul John Indian Single Malt Whisky and a unique tasting lesson from Islay Whisky Academy, run by Rachel MacNeill - founder of the first ever whisky blog for women, Whisky for Girls.
And while all visitors are encouraged to have a wee nip, there is plenty for non-whisky drinkers to enjoy too, including a newly-added craft beer bar and a wide selection of gins, bourbons and other spirits to keep even the most stubborn drinkers happy.
Tickets are available from http://www.nationalwhiskyfestival.scot/
Standard Adult Ticket: £32.50
Under 25s Ticket: £25 (must bring photo ID)
All Tickets Include:
Entry to one of two tasting sessions on Saturday 14 September
(12pm-3.30pm or 4.15pm-7.45pm)
Unique NWF branded Glencairn crystal nosing glass, to use on the day and take home
Access to sampling over 100 different whiskies/expressions (and some cheeky other spirits)
The official festival programme
Two discount vouchers to be used at the festival bottle shop, provided by
Access to masterclasses within your session (to be booked separately)
And last but by no means least an incredible bill of live music
The line-up for each session will be announced in the run up to the event - however we encourage everybody to book now to avoid disappointment as this event is likely to sell out very quickly. Until then, Slàinte Mhath!
THE NATIONAL WHISKY FESTIVAL OF SCOTLAND
SEPTEMBER 14, 2019
ABERDEEN MUSIC HALL
UNION STREET, ABERDEEN
This event is 18+ only.
This event is likely to sell out in advance - book your tickets now to avoid disappointment
Please drink responsibly
Organic artisan cheese producer Connage Highland Dairy has once again been recognised for its produce. Just weeks after winning ‘Best Cheese in Scotland’ at the Melton Mowbray Artisan Cheese Awards, Connage Highland Dairy has been awarded another ‘Best Scottish Cheese’ award.
Their Connage Aged Gouda was presented the accolade at the prestigious British Cheese Awards on the 30th of May. Founded in 1994, the British Cheese Awards attracts cheesemakers from across the UK and Ireland and hosts over 800 cheeses every year at the Bath and West Show.
Connage’s Aged Gouda is a pasteurised, waxed cheese matured for two years with firm texture with a delicious flavour.
As well as winning ‘Best Scottish Cheese’ for their Aged Gouda, they also won a silver award for the Connage Dunlop, a silver award for their younger Gouda flavoured with Cumin, and a bronze award for their Connage Smoked Dunlop.
Our latest review is of the fabulous Yamato in Edinburgh. If you are looking to try something a little different in February, but you’re a little unsure about Japanese food, this handy guide will hopefully persuade you to give it a try…
The kitchen team behind popular West End hangout The Hug and Pint now serving evenings at The Glad Cafe following successful brunch residency
The award-winning kitchen team behind much-loved West End hangout The Hug and Pint is set to take the Southside by storm this week, kicking off a three month residency at The Glad Cafe on Pollokshaws Road, bringing the area its first dedicated vegan kitchen.
Complimenting the team’s existing brunch offering ‘Hen of the Woods’, which whips up vegan and vegetarian delights during the day at the popular hangout, the evening menu - styled on The Hug and Pint’s ever-popular rotating menu of pan-Asian cusine - will bring an added bit of spice into the space.
Always evolving, always changing, and always exciting, this menu strives to give you something deliciously different every time, but with the level of consistency you'd expect from your favourite 'go-to' food spots. Customers can be sure there’ll be something for everyone, with popular Hug and Pint favourites such as 'Sichuan Tofu & Black Bean', 'Jackfruit Curry', 'Smashed Cucumber with Chilli & Peanuts' and 'Sweet Soy & Coconut Tempeh' appearing regularly on the menu, which will change daily.
Both kitchens are led by head chef Jake Martell, whose talent for satisfying diners has helped put The Hug and Pint firmly on the map not just in Glasgow, but internationally.
’The Hug and Pint at The Glad Cafe’ is now serving food 5pm-10pm, 7 days a week.
‘Hen of the Woods’ runs from 9am-4pm weekdays and 10am-4pm weekends, providing delicious homemade soups, hearty sandwiches and of course The Big Vegan Fry-up.
New dram celebrates Wemyss family’s Fife whisky dream
A long held dream to distil fine single malt whisky in the East Neuk of Fife becomes a reality this week for the founders of Kingsbarns Distillery, as they toast the launch of their first flagship expression: Kingsbarns ‘Dream to Dram’.
Named to mark the Wemyss Family’s vision to bring malt whisky distilling to their Fife home, the new release is a truly local dram, having been slowly crafted with barley harvested exclusively from the golden fields of East Fife.
The result is a beautifully light, clean yet complex Lowland style malt whisky which perfectly captures the essence of this quiet and enchanting corner of Scotland.
Dream to Dram is packaged in gentle shades of blue, gold and brown to symbolise the natural elements of the East Neuk, with a pigeon motif representing the historic ‘doocot’ (Scots for dovecot) that sits at the heart of the distillery – a restored farm steading dating back to the 1800s.
Today, owners William and Isabella Wemyss are gathering friends, neighbours and whisky lovers from around the world at the Distillery to celebrate and share a first taste of Dream to Dram as it is shipped global markets.
The Wemyss family has lived and worked in Fife for generations and has a longstanding passion for whisky dating back to the 19th Century, continuing to this day with their successful Wemyss Malts range. Their long held dream however was to make fine single malt whisky in Fife. When approached by former professional Kingsbarns Golf Links caddy Douglas Clement in 2010 with the idea of converting the semi derelict B-listed farm steading at Kingsbarns into a new distillery for the ‘home of golf’, their dream began to take shape. After a three year restoration project which carefully retained the building’s ancient features and charm, the distillery was officially opened on St Andrew’s Day 2014, with the first whisky laid down in March 2015.
The East Neuk enjoys high levels of sunshine, good soil and not too much rain, which creates the perfect growing conditions for barley. Every drop of Dream to Dram is made from barley harvested in these sun-soaked fields. The addition of pure, rich mineral water drawn from an aquifer 100 metres below the Distillery adds to the local character and light, fruity flavour profile of the whisky.
A long, slow production process in copper pot stills is at the heart of distillation: a 3 – 5 day fermentation period, wash stills that run for 8 hours and a slow running spirit still with high cut points. That will never change and the stills will never run any faster.
Maturation is primarily in high calibre first fill bourbon casks (90%), sourced exclusively from Heaven Hill in Kentucky by Isabella Wemyss, with the remainder maturing in shaved, toasted and re-charred wine casks. All Kingsbarns casks are matured in warehouses not far from the distillery in Fife.
The natural elements on Kingsbarns Distillery’s doorstep, combined with superior wood choice and long, slow fermentation give Dream to Dram its remarkably complex and distinctive Lowland character: light, intensely fruity, floral and balanced, with colour and richness coming from the wood. On the nose there is banana, pineapple syrup and summer berries, with a slight herbal note. There is soft toffee, custard pastry and redcurrants on the palate, with a finish of ginger syrup.
Speaking on behalf of the Wemyss family as they celebrate the launch of Dream to Dram today, William Wemyss said:
Dream to Dram is the first generally available single malt whisky from Kingsbarns Distillery. It follows a limited release of the exclusive ‘Founders Reserve’ for members of the Kingsbarns Distillery Founders Club in December 2018.
Dream to Dram is bottled in 70cl at 46%, RRP £44.95. It is available from the Kingsbarns Distillery online shop and at specialist and independent outlets across the UK.
The Kingsbarns Distillery Founders’ Club
The Kingsbarns Distillery Founders’ Club was launched on the first anniversary of the Distillery on 30th November 2015 and is still open for membership. Members enjoy a welcome pack with a small bottle of Kingsbarns New Make Spirit, a glass and membership badge, plus five exclusive bottles of cask strength single malt whisky, including the distillery’s inaugural Founders’ Reserve expression.
The Wemyss Family drinks portfolio
Wemyss Malts: Edinburgh based independent bottler, Wemyss Malts is owned by the Wemyss family. Their family seat is Wemyss Castle in Fife where they’ve lived since the 1300s. Wemyss Malts is primarily known for its award-winning range of blended malt Scotch Whisky which uses names inspired by the natural flavours and aromas of the whiskies: The Hive, Spice King and Peat Chimney. www.wemyssmalts.com.
Darnley’s Gin: The family also own and produce Darnley’s Gin at the Kingsbarns Distillery site in Fife. Darnley’s Gin offers tours and tastings in a converted cottage with a Gin School where visitors can distil their own bottle of gin on a mini still www.darnleysgin.com.
Rimauresq: to complete the drinks portfolio, the Wemyss Family own the premium wine estate of Rimauresq Cru Classé in Cotes de Provence www.rimauresq.eu.
Edinburgh locals looking to go meat or dairy free as a New Year resolution are being supported to kick start their diet, thanks to two courses at Edinburgh New Town Cookery School (ENTCS), including a new vegan course.
The school – which offers professional cookery training, leisure courses and group hospitality experiences – has introduced a vegan cookery course alongside its popular vegetarian one, to help those looking to make long-term dietary changes in 2019.
With a large rise in people turning to a plant based diet, the vegan course focuses on ensuring new vegans have a good base knowledge of the nutrition required to maintain a healthy body. Attendees will learn a selection of recipes and techniques to prevent the diet becoming boring, including how to make tofu, mocha brownies and a classic, egg free mayonnaise.
The vegetarian course is aimed at people who are new to the diet, those who have been following it for a while but who would like new ideas, or those who are cooking for vegetarians and in need of inspiration. Attendees on this full day course make dishes in the morning such as spring quinoa salad, Malaysian vegetarian laksa and mushroom pithivier, which are then enjoyed for lunch in the afternoon.
ENTCS is a professional cookery school based in Edinburgh’s New Town. The school was founded by Fiona Burrell, formerly Principal of Leith’s School of Food and Wine. She began her career in Edinburgh and has been teaching professional cookery courses for thirty years. With courses on offer from one day tasters for amateurs, to six month professional courses, many graduates have gone on to work in some the UK’s top kitchens.
The vegan course runs in March and the vegetarian in April. Further information on Edinburgh New Town Cookery School and the full calendar of courses is available at www.entcs.co.uk.
Harvey Nichols is launching its much loved Winter Dining Menu to help customers rid themselves of winter blues this January. The exclusive menu offers customers three courses and a cocktail for £22, available from 2nd January until 28th February 2019, excluding 14th February.
Created using seasonal ingredients sourced regionally, each menu is bespoke to its location and features three starters, three mains and three desserts. At Harvey Nichols Edinburgh in the Forth Floor Brasserie, (see what they did there…) guests can choose mouth-watering dishes such as spiced pumpkin soup with maple crème fraiche, toasted pumpkin seeds and smoked paprika oil to start, followed by pan-fired North Sea hake with saffron risotto and semi-dried cherry tomatoes, and a chocolate fondant with a blood-orange sorbet and sugared almonds to finish. To round off the meal, customers who dine with this menu can choose between two cocktails, a ‘Paloma’ made with Patrón Silver Tequila, pink grapefruit juice, agave syrup and London Essence Soda Water, or a ‘Vanilla Swing’ made with Grey Goose La Vanille Vodka, Cartron Vanilla Liqueur, orange juice and lemonade.
Visitors to the Forth Floor Restaurant can dine on a three course Winter Dining Menu for £35, along with a complimentary Paloma or Vanilla Swing cocktail. Highlights from the Restaurant menu include pan-fried red mullet with candied fennel, compressed melon and cucumber salad, braised silver side Scotch beef with Yorkshire pudding, celeriac cream, glazed baby carrots and watercress, and chocolate tart with blue cheese and candied walnut ice cream.
The Winter Dining menu will be available from the Forth Floor Brasserie and Restaurant at Edinburgh from Wednesday 2nd January until Thursday 28th February 2019, excluding 14th February.
Winter Dining will also be on offer at Harvey Nichols hospitality sites in Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, London and Manchester should you off visiting.
For further information on Harvey Nichols see harveynichols.com
It's almost certainly too late for you guys to pick a venue for a Christmas night out, well at least for this year! But if you are planning a last minute get together and you are down Ayrshire way then Scott's offer a great experience. I know because Barney and I were treated to an amazing festive night out last week.
We were invited to the fab Scott's in Troon which had some cracking views over the harbour and the welcome was as warm as the fire in the fire burning in the hearth. We were introduced to the talented Craig Hogarth, who as Exec Chef for Scott's is responsible for the food not just in Troon, but also at the Scott's in Largs and their latest opening in South Queensferry. (Definitely one for a visit in the new year I reckon!)
Craig talked us through a fantastic seven courses of deliciousness to showcase the quality and variety of the dishes on offer. From seafood such as the beautiful Scallops and the perfect Prawns, through to a double cooked Goat's cheese soufflé.
There was a stupendous butternut squash soup, with a sly hint of spice just at the end of each spoonful. You'd expect turkey at a Christmas dinner and we were not disappointed, wrapped in bacon, and served with all the trimmings this was without doubt the best turkey dinner I've had this year. No dried out meat and boring sprouts to be had here.
If this wasn't enough a slice of steak heaven was then presented. This delicious cut of picanha was beautifully cooked and the world's smallest onions rings were absolutely divine.
This was followed up with a wee taste of dessert, a slither of cheesecake and a slice of sponge pudding which was again absolutely delicious.
Oh, did I mention the Shackleton Whisky. No? How remiss of me, this beautiful blend of over 20 malts, (discovered under ice, served over it!) was a perfect end to the perfect evening. A great wee nightcap recreating the flavour of a century old bottle frozen in time in the Antarctic.
Could I fault Scott's?
The food. No.
The service. Definitely not.
The atmosphere. No chance.
If I can be really picky the only problem with the whole evening is that there aren't really enough days in December to go back and eat there again...
Luckily there's always next year!
Possibly one of Edinburgh’s most anticipated restaurant openings, The Lookout by Gardener’s Cottage opened on November 24th. It’s the first ever restaurant on Calton Hill, and one that promises diners breath-taking views across the Firth of Forth and the city skyline.
Built on a cantilever so the restaurant is partially suspended over Calton Hill’s northwest slope, the restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner 5 days a week, offering an approachable, relaxed dining experience.
The Lookout by Gardener’s Cottage is the third Edinburgh venture from chef director Dale Mailley who opened The Gardener’s Cottage in 2012 and Leith bakery Quay Commons in 2017.
The lunch and dinner menu is centred on inventive seasonal dishes like cured sea trout with scurvy grass, malted rabbit and hare yakitori, halibut with cauliflower and sea purslane, salt baked turnip and walnuts, and The Snowman - a baked Alaska with barley, fig and ginger.
A buffet-style breakfast featuring pastries and bread from Quay Commons, as well as locally-cured meats, smoked fish, home-made granola and jams, British cheeses, eggs and fruit is served from 10am.
The Lookout by Gardener’s Cottage is a partnership with Collective, the organisation that has redeveloped the City Observatory site on Calton Hill into a new home for contemporary art. As well as the purpose-built restaurant, the world-class development incorporates the restored City Observatory and City Dome, along with new purpose-built exhibition space The Hillside.
Open Wednesday to Sunday from 10am-9.30pm.
Glasgow’s Merchant City Brewing Company has launched three new cask aged beers along with two new pilot series offerings in time for the festive season.
Two of the cask aged beers have been aged using Speyside’s revered Glenfarclas whisky barrels to create a unique offering for beer lovers.
The Glenfarclas cask aged Jaggery Imperial Stout is a dark, strong stout made with six different types of grain, Jaggery and cold brew coffee, which was aged in the Speyside ex-sherry whisky casks.
The Glenfarclas cask aged IPA combines our staple hop-forward IPA with a sweeter flavour from the cask creating a delicate balance with the bitter bite of the IPA.
The trilogy also includes a bourbon barrel aged Chocolate Stout with Sour Cherry. Using the brewery’s new chocolate stout, which features a rich roasted malt character with a bitter dark chocolate taste and aroma of cacao nibs, the beer was aged for four months in bourbon barrels with sour cherries and an extra dose of 100% cocoa chocolate.
All three beers will be available in 330ml and 500ml bottles and available from the usual independent stockists in Glasgow and Edinburgh priced from £5. The beers can also be purchased as a three bottle gift pack directly from the brewery online at merchantcitybrewing.com
The brewery, which recently scooped three industry awards from SIBA Scotland, has also launched two new pilot series beers: Kristall Weizen, a modern Scottish take on the classic weizen style, using 50% wheat and 50% pilsner malt. And finally, a new Chocolate Stout, a delicious, full –bodied dark beer with a rich roasted malt character complemented by the dark chocolate taste and aroma of cacao nibs.