When Bar Botanica opened on the central coast in April last year, there was one thing missing: a liquor licence. Now, the pretty garden eatery has got the go-ahead to start serving booze – a natural progression considering it resides in the grounds of Distillery Botanica, the home of Moore’s Dry gin and Mr Black coffee liqueur. Bar Botanica is also the home of Mr Goaty Gelato, which is hand-churned on site and uses ingredients grown in the surrounding gardens and nearby farms.

“A bar was always part of the plan,” Julia Hughes, who co-owns Bar Botanica with her husband Dan Hughes (aka Mr Goaty, ex-Three Blue Ducks), tells Broadsheet. “Our cafe sits on the grounds of a boutique gin distillery that produces the most amazing gins and liquors. It’s such a cool and memorable experience to sit in our garden where all the botanicals are grown to make the gin, while drinking a gin and tonic. ‘Garden to glass’ is the new farm to table.”

All the cocktails sold at Bar Botanica use Distillery Botanica spirits and, because Bar Botanica is a daytime venue, all lean light and fresh. Expect cocktails such as a Coffee Negroni, Espresso Martini on the Rocks, the Red Snapper (“like a Bloody Mary, but better with gin”), a Lemon Myrtle Tom Collins and a few spritzes. There’s also a selection of Aussie wines, “From punchy chardonnays to carbonic rosé and fancy champagnes,” says Hughes. “I’m very fussy when it comes to wine and drinks, so the list is small and well considered.”

There’s also a streamlined seasonal menu, featuring a ploughman’s lunch and its vegetarian counterpart, the gardener’s lunch, which uses ingredients grown on the property. A humdinger of a pork-and-sage sausage roll is also a menu highlight, while the coffee is made using Mr Black beans.

“Dan's English upbringing and French training is a strong influence on the menu, as are the produce, herbs and botanicals grown in the garden,” says Hughes.

The kitchen is located within a 1970s mud-brick hut, once the centrepiece of the property, which long-time coast residents still know as The Fragrant Garden. In the ’90s “fairy parties” for local children – now grown-up and likely visiting the property for a different reason – were hosted in its whimsical, leafy grounds.

Once Covid-19 restrictions lift, Hughes says they will begin hosting events, including spit-roast Sundays, behind-the-scenes tours of Mr Black and gin yoga sessions.

Bar Botanica
25 Portsmouth Road, Erina

Wed to Fri 10am–2pm
Sat & Sun 10am–4pm