Whoever said the journey is as important as the destination didn’t have a crisp gin waiting for them at the other end. With gin now firmly entrenched as a spirit to sip on its own as much as it remains an essential ingredient for cocktails and mixers alike, venues around the country are leaning into the premium nature of the drink and offering increasingly elegant drinking occasions – some so slick they’re worth seeking specifically on your next trip.
We highlight six around Australia worth making an intimate escape to when in the vicinity.
It’s not unusual to be offered a beer while you get a haircut, but The Barber Shop on York Street in Sydney’s CBD takes things to another level. There’s no haircut required here; simply head through the silver door and past the actual barber to a cocktail bar boasting over 700 gins. The titanic list is sorted by country and continent, featuring far-flung examples from Peru, Greenland, Bosnia and Scotland, as well as vintage options from as far back as the 1950s. Put this one on your list for the next time you’re in Sydney.
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This two-storey neighbourhood spot in the coastal NSW town of Kiama is well-known to locals and absolutely worth seeking out. Gin-focused cocktails are bright and inventive, with drinks such as the Princess Jasmine (Edinburgh Jasmine Gin – which dials up lemon and jasmine notes, rather than the native cobnuts, black mulberry and pine buds of its Edinburgh Gin classic London Dry style counterpart – elderflower, chartreuse) and Rosé the Roof (gin, rosé, coconut water, rose water) among the picks. The food menu is an equal match for the drinks, with options like soft-shell crab with crispy noodles, and mussels with ‘nduja and crusty focaccia.
Now 10 years old, Melbourne cocktail institution The Everleigh will already be high on most cocktail lovers’ lists. Tucked away upstairs on Gertrude Street, The Everleigh transports drinkers to the golden era of cocktails, elevating the humble mixed drink to an art form. Expect plenty of lesser-known classics to sip on at the marble bar or in a cosy leather booth – including the simple pleasure of a Havana (gin, apricot, lemon) or an Autumn in Jersey (apple brandy, orgeat, lemon and bitters). Otherwise, veer off-menu for something special by leaving it up to the whim of your expert bartender.
Slightly more accessible than its West End London namesake, Covent Garden in Brisbane’s West End features a bounty of botanical spirits. Among the bar’s lush crop of plants, you’ll find a comprehensive menu of over 400 Australian and international gins, from big players to much smaller distilleries you’ve likely never heard of. Each gin is categorised by one of six flavour characteristics (spiced, fruity, floral, citrus, savoury or herbaceous) and comes served with a bespoke tonic and garnish match.
The Flour Factory
The first stop on a Perth gin pilgrimage should be The Flour Factory on Queen Street in the CBD. The gin list here has over 100 options, but if the scale of choice leaves you unable to decide, you can always spin the big in-house gin wheel and let chance determine your drink. Otherwise, dive into one of The Flour Factory’s playful gin cocktails, such as the Watermelon Sugar High (gin, watermelon, prosecco, cucumber, mint) or the Banana Colada (gin, rum, banana, pineapple, coconut).
The Howling Owl
During the day, Adelaide’s Howling Owl on Vaughan Place in the CBD is a cafe, gallery and gift shop. After dark the mood shifts, and you’ll find the focus turns to gin. With 200-plus gins on offer, each one matched specifically with a mixer and garnish, they’re definitely not just rolling out the hits. Here you’ll find the likes of smoked gins paired with prosciutto and cornichon garnishes, or overproof gins with samphire and a sprinkle of salt. Settle in and let the new flavours in.
No matter where your journey, Australia is heaving with great bars loaded with drinks worth exploring. Whether it’s somewhere to sit and lean into the local knowledge, or just to sip and get some ideas for the home bar, let gin be your key for exploring.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Edinburgh Gin – available now at Dan Murphy’s.