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20 Princes Street,
0131 556 4901
10am to 1am 7 days a week.

If you've ever had a drink at the bar of the Royal British Hotel on Princes Street, forget everything you think you remember. This gin joint has had a serious makeover, much more Humphrey Bogart, much less Peter Lorre.

True, it's still recognisably a hotel cocktail bar and aside from the entrance and the area immediately around the bar it still feels a little “loungy". However the back bar itself is a joy to behold - over 250 different bottles with two more shelves still to be added! And, like most cocktail bars that want to make a name for themselves in Edinburgh there is a fine selection of gins. The new owners have
certainly given the bar staff great support in creating an interesting and varied range of spirits, vermouths and liqueurs. 

We started with two relatively safe drinks: D had her usual Dry Martini (£8.00), well made with Tanqueray 10 and a grapefruit twist as recommended by Ifan. I went for the Macgregor (£8.00), a variation of the Rob Roy made with Glenmorangie, Carpano Anitca, Maraschino and bitters. Again this was well made and ideal for fans of a Manhattan. However, where Juniper really does excel is with its own quirky, off the wall drinks. It's obvious a lot of thought and a good deal of skill has gone into creating these cocktails and whilst the immediate reaction on viewing the menu might be “Mmmm, I"m not sure" - try them, you will be more than pleasantly surprised. After talking to TJ, the creator of some of the more unusual drinks we decided to settle on a Full Scottish Breakfast (£8.00) and a Chai 'Zerac (£9.00).

The Full Scottish Breakfast contains two whiskies (Glenmorangie and Ardbeg), marmalade, lemon, bitters, egg white and a smoky bacon foam! A wonderful combination of smokiness, saltiness, sweetness and Scottishness, this drink has finally given D something she's been waiting for - a drink she can justify ordering at nine o'clock in the morning. The Chai 'Zerac was a subtle version of the Sazerac that really benefitted from the gentle spiciness of chai and fresh ginger. It may be too subtle for lovers of a bold and strongly flavoured Sazerac but I couldn't fault it. Definitely a drink I will be ordering again. 

With a cocktail menu that will be regularly updated with more of their original concoctions, a street food menu that includes oysters and great views out on to Princes St and the Castle, Juniper is certainly a bar that deserves frequent visits. (M. Earl)

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