Fantastic Gin and Whisky Tours in Edinburgh

Cocktails:

In the last two weeks I have been on two new spirit (gin and whisky) tours  in Edinburgh and both are brilliant in different ways – the first was Lind and Lime gin in Leith and the second was on Princes St the new home of Johnnie Walker.

Lind and Lime Gin 

This tour celebrates Leith as the home of distilling and glass making.

New gin distillery
Outside the new Lind and Lime gin distillery opened in May 2022

The Lind part come from James Lind who was born in Edinburgh in 1716. After some informal medical training at Edinburgh University, he joined the Royal Navy in 1738 as a Surgeons’ Mate, and by 1747 he had become Surgeon of a ship called HMS Salisbury.  It was on this vessel that he conducted what is recognised today as one of the first clinical trials ever recorded, which played a significant part in the story of the prevention of scurvy the need for vitamin C – ie limes. In the late 1850s Lachlan Rose (1829-1885), the son of a Leith shipbuilder, set up a business provisioning ships. Among these provisions in 1863 was lime juice – a commodity every sea going vessel was required to carry by virtue of the Merchant Shipping Act, as a protection against scurvy at a time when the carrying of fresh fruit and vegetables was not possible on long journeys.

Vitamin C prevented scurvy
Always good to make sure you have a lemon or lime in your drink

At this time lime juice was used solely for medicinal purposes but being an astute businessman Lachlan decided to make it more suitable for popular consumption. He sweetened the juice and put it in bottles turning it into a new and attractive beverage. And so ‘Rose’s Lime Juice’ with its distinctive bottle bearing the lime leaves and fruit emblem was born.

Gin and tonic
Two parts tonic to one of gin

The Perfect Gin and Tonic

We were given a brief introduction with a double gin and tonic (1 part gin to 2 parts tonic and loads of ice!)  and a 75 minutes tour – very quick as just one room and one still! The focus was on the botanicals; the classic ‘base’ botanicals: coriander seeds, angelica rood, orris root and liquorice root plus the gorgeous addition of pink peppercorns which give a wonderful sweet balance to the juniper and lime peel – thanks James Lind.

Once the gin has been distilled it gets bottled – we all had a go and got to keep our bottle with the label expertly or not centred – that is after 50ml of gin!

Nell with miniature Lind and Lime bottle and cocktail
Nell in safari suit ( just finished my Leith Walk Tour) with my bottle of gin and a Gimlet

Message On A Bottle

In the 18th and 19th centuries, whisky merchants gradually began to dominate the shore as Leith became Scotland’s national hub for the maturation and export of the country’s national spirit. The key raw materials for making glass were locally abundant: sand and kelp (a large sea-weed) and the first records of glass production in Leith emerge from the mid to late 17th century. It was this remarkable local industrial heritage that inspired Lind and Lime to choose a wine bottle shape for our gin. They also embossed the words ‘Leith Glass Works’ on the base of  the bottle.  

Beautifully wrapped bottle of LInd and Lime
Great present: Lind and Lime in cool map paper

I loved the gin so much I bought a bottle £35 – no need to add citrus and the tonic is recommended to be light, so as not to detract from gin flavour.

This would be a super tour to do after you have lined your stomach on my Eat The World International Food Tour Lind and Lime  24 Coburg Street, Leith, EH6 6HB, just a short walk from the foot of Leith Walk or The Shore. 

Johnnie Walker Whisky

And just when I thought it couldn’t get much better – I went on the Johnnie Walker (JW) Journey of Flavour Whisky Experience at 145  Princes St,  at The West End – it was all very slick from choosing our favourite flavours on a laptop questionnaire –  bananas? Treacle? vanilla ice cream to determine our preferred JW whisky –

The iconic Striding Man
The iconic Striding Man – was commissioned by Johnnie Walker’s son Alexander – one of history’s first marketing symbols

Then 22 of us were whisked up in the lift for our first Highball of the evening – depending on our whisky preferences, then a very slick presentation with an actor dressed in tail coat and hat – telling us how  JW went from being an orphaned farm boy from Kilmarnock to setting up a grocer shop which blended whiskies to suit the individual customers then as the JW dynasty expanded they acquired various key Scottish distilleries so they could offer more blends.

Rain equals whisky
We need rain to grow the barley … now we don’t mind the weather forecast so much..

Our guide even produced flavoured smoke so we could get our noses round smoky, salty, fresh, green candles, waxy then we ended our tour at the bar and an Old Fashioned with various liqueurs and then we were tempted to hit the roof bar for one for the road and ten per cent off drinks and food with this fantastic Edinburgh view – stunning with no need for alcohol enhancement.

Whisky cocktails with a view 

Cardamom and ginger whisky cocktail - next time!
JW cocktails – plenty to choose from

I loved both tours – go on both and learn more about the Scottish traditions of alcohol which is vey much alive and contemporary in 2022 

Whisky with a view
The 1820 bar has stunning views over central Edinburgh

So book a tour – afternoon or evening: Lind and Lime £25 and Johnnie Walker £28. Both include generous measures of gin and whisky.

 

 

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Unique Scottish Cooking Class

Last week, a lovely American family – ‘mom’, ‘pop’ and their 12-year old son booked in for a Scottish cooking class and it was a great success.

chopping potatoes for soup at this Scottish cooking class
Unique Scottish cooking class with Edinburgh Food Safari

Family style cooking

I have run the cooking class with adults, but it worked really well with an enthusiast for slicing leeks, chopping potatoes, flaking fish and rolling up their sleeves and using their hands (clean) to mix sugar and butter together for shortbread.

Relax on the chaise longue before and after the Scottish cooking class
Elegant sitting room for eating and relaxing before and after Scottish cooking class

Oats Rule in Scottish Cooking 

The private cooking classes take place in my Georgian 200-year old flat and starts with a welcome drink and chat about Scottish cookery over Edinburgh Gin rhubarb and ginger gin liqueur over ice, plus an Irn Bru for junior – who was intrigued by Scotland’s other ‘national drink’ and my homemade cheese oatcakes. Oats and barley grow better than wheat in Scotland so  oats are still a staple of the Scottish diet.

Cheese oatcakes and Edinburgh gin liqueur
Scottish gin liqueur and homemade cheese oatcakes

Scottish cookery has always differed from England.  The Romans influenced English cooking but as they did not venture far into Scotland, historically Scottish cuisine developed slowly. Scottish cooking methods advanced through the influence of the French at the court of Mary Queen of Scots.

Scottish cooks have always been famous for their soups, haggis (a dish traditionally served on Burns Night) and their baking, especially scones, pancakes, fruit cakes, oatcakes and shortbread.

Ready to cook? aprons and recipes and ingredients
Recipes, apron and shortbread ingredients at the ready

To the kitchen for the Scottish cooking class…

Then into the kitchen – where guests (hands washed) are issued with Scottish aprons and a knife and chopping board to make the classic Cullen Skink. This lovely filling fish soup originates from the little fishing village of Cullen on the Moray Firth. It is a hearty soup and traditionally made with Finnan haddock (smoked haddock), potatoes, and onions or leeks.

Skink used to mean shin of beef – but as there was so much fish in this fishing town, smoked haddock is used. By poaching the fish in the milk, the fish cooks quickly and flavours the milk. Whilst the chopped potatoes and leeks were cooking, the guests start on shortbread

Shortbread was for high days and holidays

In Scotland, shortbread was an expensive luxury and for ordinary people, it was a special treat reserved for special occasions such as weddings, Christmas and New Year. The custom of eating shortbread at New Year (Hogmanay) has its origins in the ancient pagan Yule Cakes which symbolised the sun.  Shortbread has been attributed to Mary, Queen of Scots, who in the mid-16th century was said to be very fond of Petticoat Tails, a thin, crisp, buttery shortbread. 

Hands on: mixing butter and sugar by hand for the shortbread
Junior making shortbread under Pa’s watchful eye

Good quality Scottish butter, flour and sugar and some elbow grease is all it takes and soon the shortbread is chilling in the fridge and the guests are in the sitting room tucking into their creamy Cullen Skink.  As they had been tasting as it cooked, I knew they couldn’t complain  re size of veggies or softness of the potato! They loved it.

The next course is haggis – no one in Scotland would make their own, unless they had access to a whole sheep or cow, so I serve MacSween haggis ( Veggie available – same spices and oatmeal content as the meaty one) with tatties (potato) and neeps (turnip) and a shot of whisky. I recite one stanza of Burns’ poem – Ode to a Haggis – we don’t want our haggis main meal to get cold!

Enjoying haggis, neeps and tatties and a glass of the orange stuff: Irn Bru
Enjoying haggis, neeps and tatties

By this time the chilled shortbread is out the oven and cooling down to the guests to enjoy with tea or coffee and whatever is left is boxed up take away.

Warm homemade shortbread, tea and coffee at the end of the Scottish cooking class
Happy guests with their own homemade shortbread to enjoy and take home

Cook with Nell 

I can see how the Scottish cooking classes work well for visitors to the city with easy to replicate recipes they can take recreate back home.

Edinburgh Food Safari Scottish cooking Classes are perfect for couples, friends and families of all ages. Minimum number is two guests and maximum is six guests.

Times are either over lunch 11am- 2pm or evening 6.30 – 8.30pm – entails some chopping, but no washing up !

Price is £75 per person

To arrange a time and day which suits your party just contact Nell 

 

 

 

 

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Afternoon Tea in Leith at The Theatre

Beautiful Leith Theatre with art deco flourishes inside
Leith Theatre; a stunning 1930’s building

Afternoon Tea for Four on day out in Leith

A friend was given an afternoon Prosecco tea for four at the secret ladies’ bar of Leith Theatre as her Christmas present.  It was part of the Leith Theatre’s fund raising campaign and her husband obviously thought some good should come from his wife’s love of quaffing fizz and cake with her chums.

Continue reading “Afternoon Tea in Leith at The Theatre”

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Good and Proper Deli: new kid on the Stockbridge block

A new deli – another one?

You may ask has sprung  up in Stockbridge. It opened on 10 April and I was in to have a snout. It looks perfect as if Good and Proper has always been on this spot on the heart of Raeburn Place. It has in fact replaced a rather tired Chinese take away.

 It is all white shiny with fresh salads glistening, fat scones asking to be eaten and a chocolate orange cake still to be cut into. Tables will fill up fast as quite small, I had a selection of three fab salads and as I was in rush to get to my safari at 12, I had them boxed up in a very robust box – which kept the salads in good condition till I managed a chance to enjoy – post safari.

Typical dishes are soup- Sweetcorn Chowder, salads such as Honey roasted pumpkin & kale, dal pea and coconut salad quinoa tabbouleh salad , a bacon & ricotta frittata and a hot dish such as chicken, parsnip & tarragon casserole.

Welcome to the neighbourhood!

Good & proper deli c° 

74 Raeburn Place, Edinburgh, , Eh4 1hj

https://www.gandpdelico.co.uk/

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Lazy Jazz Saturday Afternoon @ The Barony

The sun shone, the beer, cider and wine flowed and the jazz band played on….at The Barony Bar, 81-85 Broughton Street, EH1 3RJ last Saturday.

The Barony Bar offers jazz on Saturday afternoons 3-5 pm with various guest bands. I was  lucky enough to catch the Martin Kershaw Trio on March 24.One of the leading musicians on the vibrant Scottish jazz scene, alto saxophonist Martin Kershaw played again at The Barony joined by Graeme Stephen (guitar) and Brian Shiels (bass).

There is trad music on Tuesdays 6-8 pm and blues on Sunday eves. There is also a new menu – I was back at The Barony on Tuesday eve for some fiddle and some very good goulash with egg noodle and sour cream. My friends took advantage of the two burger deal for £15 and the fish and chips – looked like a small whale had been battered and deep fried  as it lay on its final resting place of chips with skins on – I exaggerate – but v generous fish portion!

These new changes at The Barony along with fresh flowers and candles mean its worth booking a table for food and music. Telephone: 0131 556 9251 to make a reservation.

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Fresh Lemon and Ginger Tea -the perfect afternoon lift

At temperatures hovering around zero, a freshly whizzed veggie fruit juice is never going to hit the spot, but this bottomless cup of fresh lemon and ginger tea at Hyde and Son at the west end of George Street definitely did. Priced at £2.60 you get a pale green, gold rimmed  cup with slice of fresh ginger and fresh lemon, topped with boiling water and a lid to keep the heat in. Once cooled to drink and drunk, the staff will happily refill – so sit quite near the bar – for speedier water replenishment.

Hyde and Son has boutique bedrooms attached, but for the casual shopper and person in need of a hot drink from 7-11 then this airy bar cafe is the perfect stopping off point – good coffee, great sounding cocktails and 12 Triangle pastries 

Hyde and Son

127 George street,Edinburgh, EH2 4JN

Tel: 01312852050 

OPEN Monday – Saturday: 7AM – 11PM Sunday: 8AM – 10PM

 

 

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Hot Syrian pastries to go

After an hour circuit training at Diamond Gym just off Newhaven road, and with calories at my disposal I smelt the tantalising smell of baking bread. I followed my nose to Taza Bake.

I ordered a few cheese and parsley pastries to take away and before I finished floundering in my gym kit for my purse, the baker was rolling out dough, and filling little circles of pastry with cheese and parsley, then onto a giant shovel and into the oven. Five minutes later, I was tucking in! 

Taza means fresh in Arabic and the Syrian bakery has been going from strength to strength since it started rolling out this traditional Mediterranean flat bread four years ago. The machines were imported from the Middle East and the bread is not only baked on the day but within minutes. Many shops will sell the flat breads pre packed, but nothing beats the fun of turning up to the shop and seeing dough turn into savoury bites in minutes and buying for immediate consumption.

Taza Bake 17 Stewartfield,  Edinburgh EH6 5RQ Tel 0131 629 3833

Open every day 9am -5pm, closed on Sunday

 

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Walking tour with fab hot choc and top view

Just had the best hot chocolate and the best view: I am always telling guests on my New Town food safari how the New Town was designed to be a massive improvement from the Old Town with its narrow closes and high buildings and use examples of London Street’s incredibly wide street – you could easily turn a horse and carriage – whereas in the Old Town we could be talking a nine-point turn! 

Today I took a free Little Fish walking tour of the Old Town  – starts 10.30 opposite St Giles http://www.littlefishtours.co.uk/  and was hugely taken with guide Ben’s humorous and interesting tour with snippets of history but not bogged down with too many dates, we started at St Giles and went down Barrie’s Close – a new one for me to the Cowgate where cows were driven to market, then up through Greyfriars, and great views from upper Victoria Street to end up in the Grassmarket. To warm up after our two-hour walk, Ben recommended Mary’s  Milk Bar for ice cream – too cold for me – and real hot chocolate – Mary of the Milk Bar has worked as a chocolatier for the last five years and she trained in Bologna, Italy. The hot choc was fantastic really rich and creamy and perfect after two hours on the cobbles. Also if you sit in the front of the shop you get the most fantastic view of the castle – my top tip of the day for hot chocolate with a view 

Littlle Fish Tours
59/5 Cockburn Street, Edinburgh, EH11BS http://www.littlefishtours.co.uk/

Mary’s  Milk Bar
19 Grassmarket
Edinburgh
EH1 2HS

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The Ivy will definitely flourish!

The Ivy on the Square (St Andrews Square) opens tonight – 20 September  – I went last week to an opening – lovely balmy night – and we found ourselves after several truffle rice balls and steak on a stick at the end of the evening sitting outside in  Parisian style terrace with a glass of Ivy fizz and to keep off the Scottish September chills a lovely aqua IVY embroidered blanket. 

The Ivy, West Street in London opened 100 years ago. This Edinburgh edition will be open seven days a week.  The brasserie will offer all-day dining and an extensive cocktail list and always have some unreserved seats so you can be spontaneous – if you feel a espresso martini on the Square mood come upon you. 

The Ivy on the Square’s brasserie style menu will offer something for all kinds of occasions, serving breakfast, elevenses, weekend brunch, lunch, afternoon tea, light snacks, cocktails and dinner. Dishes include the iconic shepherd’s pie and the chocolate bomb with hot salted caramel sauce. Definitely worth staying on the tram for – which is just across the Square.

The Ivy on the Square – Edinburgh
6 St. Andrew Square, 
EH2 2BD, 
Edinburgh

CALL: 0131 526 4777

 
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