The word "polarizing" comes up a lot in articles about gin. Hell, it's flavored with juniper "berries," which are actually squishy little pine cones full of essential oils. Knowing that, when your drinking partner scrunches up his or her face and says gin tastes like pine needles, don't make fun—it does. Junipers are coniferous trees, like pines, and you're sipping on their cone juice. Still, gin has legions of devoted fans who praise the spirit's complexity and the artistry necessary to properly mix it into cocktails. Such praise should also be heaped on Juniper Kitchen and Cocktails, which opened on Eighth Street in September 2014. Though Juniper's menu is Southern-inspired, it branches beyond the down-home to include inventive offerings like the Lava Lakes lamb Reuben, gin and honey glazed salmon, the mushroom-barley vegan burger and bison meatball pasta. Then there's the eminently noshable slate of appetizers, including duck confit empanadas, bacon bleu cheese fries and fried castelvetrano olives. Pair any of that with a creation from Juniper's wall o' gin, and you'll begin to see what all the fuss is about.
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