The Jolly Botanist

Last April, Morrison Street’s Spider’s Web pub wrapped itself in a cocoon and closed its doors for the last time.  Now, after ten months and almost three-quarters of a million pounds, the once old man pub has been reborn as Edinburgh’s newest gin bar – The Jolly Botanist.

I say newest gin bar but it could easily become my favourite.  The brainchild of P&C Taverns – which owns a few other pubs across the city – stepping into The Jolly Botanist feels a bit like stepping back in time.  The interior has been stripped back to leave exposed brickwork, along with faded wallpaper and murals which have a Jules Verne-esque air about them.  The space is filled with big chairs, chandeliers and brick-a-brack, which give it the air of an abandoned Parisian apartment.

The bar boasts over 70 different gins, alongside a decent range of crafts beers, wines and other spirits.  Unlike some other gins bars I’ve visited, the menu is extremely approachable, with each gin accompanied by a description of its flavour, its style, accompanying tonic and garnish.  The team also appear to be extremely well trained and were able to advise when we were looking for something a bit different.

During the evening, we tried three different gins, all of which were mixed with Fentimans Tonic: Monkey 47 (47%), garnished with a slice of grapefruit; Chase Extra Dry (40%), which was accompanied by apple and ginger; and Hayman’s Royal Dock (57%), served simply with a slice of lemon.  All were fantastic examples of the great gin currently being produced across the UK, although if I had to pluck for a favourite, it would have to be the Hayman’s Royal Dock…but maybe that’s just the level of alcohol talking!

The vast selection of G&T’s was accompanied by an impressive cocktail list, with each drink competitively priced at between £6 and £8.  I plucked for an Elderflower Lime Collins, which contained Edinburgh Gin, Elderflower Liqueur and Lime Juice.  The cocktail was just what I was after – a sticky, sweet, citrusy concoction, with the now famous Edinburgh Gin still able to shine though.

As we headed to the bar right after work, we had a few nibbles to help us make it through the night and the food was just as impressive as the drinks.  The chips and pizza bread were simple but extremely well made and bursting with flavour.  The desserts were really worth writing home about though – a sweet and fruity Eton Mess, a well assembled cheese board and one of the best cheesecakes I’ve ever tasted.  If you pop your head in, I’d advise skipping the mains and heading right for the desserts.

£750k is a lot of money to invest in renovating a bar in the Haymarket.  However, I can see The Jolly Botanist drawing gin lovers from far and wide, which I’m sure will leave a great big smile of its owner’s face.