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The Jolly Botanist
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The Jolly Botanist
256-260 Morrison Street,
0131 228 5596
Open 7 days 10am-1am

Where does my Juniper grow?

 Perhaps I expected to find David Bellamy behind the bar, all boundless enthusiasm and good humour. Happy to take the time to explain the subtle differences between the botanicals used in the huge variety of gins stocked, or to wax lyrical about the prophylactic properties of the quinine used in good tonic waters. As it was, I was greeted by a barmaid doing her best impression of Manuel from Fawlty Towers as I requested a White Lady (on the menu at £7.50) and a very dry martini made with Junipero (not on the menu but total charge of a whopping £13.00).

Now, when the drinks finally arrived at the table, having been helpfully made by one of her colleagues, I was still waiting to be blown away. Of the two, the White Lady was easily the best, a well balanced mix of juniper, citrus and tart acidity with just a little hint of sweetness. The martini, however, was not even dry (perhaps this explains the charge of £2.80 for the shot of vermouth) which really nullified the choice of the wonderfully crisp Junipero as the base.

Our introduction to the Jolly Botanist did not, therefore, start well. Which is such a shame because the bar has a lot going for it. It genuinely has a fantastic range of gins - I gave up trying to count them all, combined with a helpful menu that recommends both a well matched tonic and the perfect garnish. We tried the Gin Mare (£3.85) and the William Chase Elegant Gin (£4.10) served with Fevertree and Fentimans Tonic (£1.60 each). Neither could be faulted.

Even on a wet Tuesday night there was a liveliness about it that you don't often get in a city centre bar in the middle of the week. It's obvious that a lot of thought and money has gone into the decor and the feel of the place, which is best described as distressed Victoriana. And therein lies my problem - I think I went too soon, whilst it was still experiencing opening pains.

I, therefore, will go back. I would like to think that the Jolly Botanist that I experienced was the first bud of a crocus forcing its way up through a sodden field in early February and that, on my next visit, I will be blown away by the profusion of vivid colours as the crocuses, snowdrops and tulips burst into flower and show us what they really are. Here's hoping I find my juniper there. (M. Earl)  

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