Co-Founders of Heads + Tails, Will Partridge & Christopher Dennis, chat to us about their unique venue.
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Will Partridge (Co-owner, Managing Director) & Christopher Dennis (Co-owner, Beverage Director)
What inspired you to create a two-bar venue?
It was always clear that to update the venue we were going to have to start with a clean slate, which would mean lots of structural work. Previously the venue had more of a pub feel on the ground floor and a nightclub offering below. Even with the amount of work we proposed, this basic format remained and was highlighted throughout naturally. We wanted to strip the site back to its bare bones and then accentuate the natural elements left remaining. This provided the perfect opportunity to create two distinct bars with their own unique and opposing feel & offering.
How did you decide the mood/atmosphere of both Heads and Tails?
We really decided upon this based on the structure of the venue itself. The ground floor with its high ceilings, large open shopfront and garden access at the rear felt light, open and airy. The basement, however, had a different feel due to the lack of natural light and lower ceiling height. Rather than trying to push a square peg into a round hole, we decided to make the most of what these spaces each had to offer. This meant accentuating the space and light of the ground floor with a light colour palette and materials such a white terrazzo and brass. In contrast, Tails provides a darker, moodier and more intimate setting. A darker, richer colour palette enhances the use of earthier materials – the brass and terrazzo are substituted out in favour of copper and wood down here.
How did you develop your cocktail offering to reflect this?
The cocktail menu focuses on drinks that are styled to fit each floor. There’s a lighter presence with generally clear spirits, spritzers and low ABV drinks upstairs in Heads. In Heads + Tails, however, we concentrate more on brown & stirred heady drinks accompanied by a creative Boiler Maker menu. Beyond the foundation of the list, probably the most important element was to make it exciting, yet approachable. We’ve tried to keep everything accessible with a little flair here and there.
‘Every unique idea we had for Heads, had to have a mirrored counterpart in Tails.’
What has been the most challenging aspect to building a two-pronged venue?
Maintaining consistency in the concept and offering was probably the greatest challenge. Every unique idea we had for Heads, for example, had to have a mirrored counterpart in Tails. Likewise, if we came up with a great idea for Heads + Tails, we’d try to produce an equivalent in Heads to balance it. Although challenging, it was also a lot of fun. It’s easy to spot the obvious interior design features of our the duality concept, but there are plenty of other subtleties that not everyone sees… for example Heads cocktail menu features drinks named ‘Dove’ and ‘Lightening’, and you’ll find ‘Raven’ and ‘Thunder’ on the Tails list.
What is your favourite cocktail and why?
In Tails, it’s the Twist of Fate. A simple old-fashioned twist with orange extract & cinnamon. In Heads, the Dove – floral, light and refreshing.
What does your food offering entail? How did you develop this to stand alongside both Heads and Tails?
From the start, we wanted to be drinks focused entirely. Minimising our food offering allows us to concentrate on this from a storage-to-service capacity. Hence we’re keeping things simple – revolving charcuterie, cheeses and nibbles in the main. We’re working with various suppliers right now to find the perfect fit, and we’re planning on some street-food pop-ups in the garden next year.
What suppliers have you used to create the venue (ie, bar, glassware, lighting, etc)?
We’ve used: Northern Lights, Tala, Made, Riedel, Schott Zwiesel, Hillcross Furniture and InsideOut Contracts, amongst many, many others!
How does Heads + Tails stand out?
I think we have an offering which includes something for everyone, perhaps even more than something – given you have the option of a different setting depending on your mood/situation. The late license is an obvious benefit; it’s difficult to find venues outside of specific cosmopolitan areas that have a drinks focus open as late as we are – venues outside of clubs/casinos at least. But, overall these elements I think we distinguish ourselves with the quality and ingenuity of our drinks menu and top-notch service from the fantastic bar team. We’re lucky to have a group of great people working hard to get us into that sweet spot between destination and neighbourhood venue.