A bartender was wearing a tropical shirt and sailor hat in Heads + Tails, despite it only being a Wednesday night. It seems the party has arrived in West Hampstead, as this spot was busy with punters of all ages who were putting to bed any persistent rumours that this is a sleepy part of town. The bar gets its name from its two clear concepts – the upstairs (Heads) is a light space serving low-alcohol drinks, and the basement (Tails) is a barely lit spot for cocktails made from dark spirits.
While the idea isn’t totally original (just look at bar Swift in the West End), the execution means this spot just opposite the tube is surprisingly gorgeous. Particularly upstairs, where furnishings include gold-trimmed, marble-effect surfaces, turquoise seating and verdant greenery spilling from pots and planters. Plus, there’s a pretty decked garden out the back to suit those daytime-friendly drinks.
A sweet Italian bartender made us feel at home at the bar in Heads, answering our questions in detail, giving thoughtful suggestions and letting me order from the downstairs menu when I was in need of something stronger. But despite my predilection for a drink containing three different whiskies (it had been a long day and the wonderfully balanced Diamond in the Rough took the edge off), I left without any guilt for taking my pregnant friend bar-reviewing. Her drinks were some of the best. The Everlong was an effervescent joy made from alcohol-free aperitif Everleaf, mixed with elderflower cordial and lemon tonic. And a Pink Lemonade had just a whisper of rosé vermouth but felt like a full-on cocktail treat. There’s something for everyone: Heads or Tails, clear-headed or full sailor hat.