The building’s history as a bank may have been liquidated, but who wouldn’t rather pop a Champagne cork than pay in a cheque? There are a dozen Champagnes for the big spenders, from Billecart-Salmon at £65 to Krug Grande Cuvée at £270.
Serving Billecart-Salmon 2007 vintage by the glass (£19) is a classy touch, while the selection of 30 or so mainly European wines is more interesting than many lists twice the length.
But the main reason to come here is cocktails for around £12 a pop. House creations nod towards the RBS days in the likes of a whisky and maraschino Savings & Loans; even better are the ‘club classics’ such as the 1922 Clover Club made from Tanqueray gin, Cocchi Rosa, raspberry syrup and citrus, which tastes like a glass of summer pudding.
This being Edinburgh, there is of course whisky galore, with Speyside and Islay particularly well-represented, plus 10 bourbons, ryes and Tennessee whiskies for the American tourists who are living proof that there’s no taste like home, even after they’ve tracked down their family tartan on the Royal Mile.
To eat, there’s an undemanding menu of the sort of comfort food you crave after one cocktail too many: croque madame, a club sandwich, and a New England-style lobster roll with the regrettable addition of sun-dried tomatoes that didn’t leave us feeling Yankee doodle dandy. Full marks, though, for the soft brioche roll, and rustle of fabulous fries.
Some might say that having to reserve a table takes the spontaneity out of drinking, but I’d point them to tiny, noisy Bramble on nearby Queen Street, voted the UK’s best bar in the recent Top 50 Cocktail Bars awards but where I was almost floored by a foreign exchange student busting some moves to the DJ while attached to a Karrimor rucksack like a parasitic twin.
Personally I’m the sort of drinker who likes to reserve a table weeks in advance and for whom the idea of no bookings is about as appealing as a ‘children welcome’ sign.
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