The Jolly Botanist opens

11th February 2015

width=400width=400width=400width=400width=400width=400The regeneration of the West End took another step forward this week with the first major Edinburgh bar opening of the year, The Jolly Botanist, (formerly the Spider’s Web), on Morrison Street. It follows a 10 month closure and a major £730K refurbishment, which is a joint investment by Star Pubs & Bars1 and local entrepreneurs, Iain Pert and Gordon Gilhooley of PG Taverns Scotland2.

The complete overhaul of the venue is the pub company’s largest ever single site investment in Scotland and the company’s third collaboration with Iain and Gordon in 12 months.

The gin and dining room will offer over 70 craft and small batch gins from around the globe including Edinburgh’s own Edinburgh Gin, as well as feature cask hand pulls including a number of Caledonian ales and Three Hop and a selection of premium draft lagers (Heineken Served Extra Cold, Affligem and Krusovice), a range of wines, spirits and cocktails and selection of fresh locally sourced food.

The urban concept, is the brainchild of Iain Pert, who described the Jolly Botanist as a name, a person and a brand. The bar invites people to step into a world that is a theatrical and intriguing.

Iain said of his and Gordon’s latest venture: “The Jolly Botanist is a combination of some of Edinburgh’s best attributes – its world famous botanical gardens and long gin and ale heritage and the city’s irreverent sense of fun. Gin is very much a drink of the moment, the preferred choice of bartenders and mixologists and a spirit for which Scotland is becoming world famous.   I believe Edinburgh could and should become the gin capital of the world

“25 new staff have been recruited and put through their paces with specialist gin, mixology and beer dispense training to ensure the service on offer and knowledge is second to none. The kitchen team has been specially head-hunted to deliver a fresh changing menu using locally sourced ingredients. We’ve brought in Iain Sim, an acclaimed food consultant who has run successful pop ventures in Islington and Shoreditch in London such as Lobster v Steak and Bonny & Wilde and is bringing the immediacy of street cuisine to the Jolly Botanist as well a new head chef, formerly of Rick’s in Edinburgh. It’s a powerful combination.”

The elegant and inventive interior is a deconstructed homage to Jules Verne. The building has been pared back to highlight a bygone era, while original features such as windows and a fireplace are given pride of place as part of the distinctive bar. The whole interior has been moved around to create a raised area with a quirky relaxed living room feel and a large dining area which in the Summer extends outside the front of the bar as the glass doors fold back to allow for alfresco dining.

The designers/architects on the project were Kirkcaldy based DBP architects.  Stewart Davidson - designer director said of the Jolly Botanist’s interior:  “The main design approach has interpreted imaging from the Jules Verne design philosophy.  Emerging technology was always an interest of Verne which led to interior concepts which adopted a mix of material with metalwork playing a prominent role. Along with Steampunk the interior at Edinburgh seeks to create a feel of opulence to the rear raised area yet retaining a tarnished look to the finishes. Curiosities have been integrated into the interior creating talking points and spaces for customers to enjoy. The result is an interesting play of spaces with the deliberately shabby chicfinishes and concepts mixing well with the elements of classical lighting and furnishing.”

Chris Jowsey, trading director of Star Pubs & Bars said: “The regeneration of the West End is gathering pace, so it’s the ideal time for The Jolly Botanist to open its door. We’re delighted to be investing in this exciting part of Edinburgh and that someone of Iain’s extensive experience has taken on this high profile site and is breathing new life into what had formerly been a tired underperforming pub.

“Interest in gin is on the rise and with it Edinburgh’s reputation as a world renowned gin city.   The Jolly Botanist’s focus on specialist craft and small batch gins together with its urban vibe, creative interior, range of quality beer and exciting changing fresh food will have broad appeal among office workers, young professionals living in the area as well as attracting Edinburgh residents, gin enthusiasts and tourists from further afield. Good news for the Jolly Botanist and good news for the West End!”