Market Street in the city centre has always had plenty of drinking options, with several bars co-habiting, elbow to elbow; as if they’ve shuffled down the hill from the Mound or Cockburn Street, and all come to rest at the bottom. The Doric, Hebrides, Belushi’s, Sportsters and the like have now been joined by the latest newcomer – Jake’s Place, which officially opens on Friday (although it has been open this week). Owned by the Beds and Bars concern – the same people who run Belushi’s (and operate the St Christopher’s Inn that sits above both), it’s set to be a bit more contemporary than the neighbouring hostel bar, in that it revolves around two of the words of the moment – ‘craft’ and ‘reclaimed’.
Inside, almost everything has been assembled from second-hand sources (tables from scaffolding planks, downlights from army barracks, and a crusty red lamp built from an old lobster pot). Bars doing this kind of thing are springing up everywhere these days; the trade in reclaimed brick has to be worth a fortune (and squaddies must require super-human levels of night-vision). Despite being turned around in only six weeks, from start to finish, the new bar seems to work straight away. It still smells of paint and varnish, but once everything is totally complete (more barrel shelves are on the way), they should be raring to go.
Those barrels – acquired from Harviestoun – tell part of the story of what will be on offer, as Jake’s will push their American/Scottish crossover theme by stocking a fairly huge range of bourbon, as well as home-grown whisky. Beer-wise, there are four Scottish cask options on general rotation – Black Isle, Ayr, Loch Ness and Harviestoun during my visit, with two hefty beer fridges on either side of the bar. Four keg taps will dispense American craft beer from Delaware’s Dominion and Fordham breweries – their sole appearance in Scotland, in either draught or bottled form. The Dominion Oak Barrel Stout was hugely impressive, for instance – sweetly vanilla-edged, with a soft tingle of booze.
Chatting to the guys behind Jake’s (neither of whom have that name, I won’t spoil the secret), they are certainly keen to get straight up into that modern beer bar echelon; the beer list is written on a school chalkboard, for example. Tastings and Meet the Brewer nights are being planned (involving the two American producers at first, but others later). US-style bar food is being served. Growlers and pick-six takeouts will be on offer fairly soon. And, last but not least, Jake’s will also be going down the 2/3rd’s route rather than pints – as a nod to responsibility, given the strength of some of the imports.
So, from an initial flying visit at least, it seems like Jake’s could be a great option for the beer and whisky crowd – particularly those who prefer to spell the latter with an extra ‘e’. Head down from Friday for the official opening…
9-12 Market Street Edinburgh EH1 1DE
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**Jake’s Place is closed Thursday 3rd and Friday 4th of April, in preparation for the opening night on Friday the 5th**