Bar, Sydney

Cocktail Heaven

I appreciate the irony in my writing this post. The man who in my head is pretty much the antithesis of the small bar concept, Justin Hemmes, has created a marvelous small bar that I love.

Hidden inside the multi level Ivy, this exquisite room is an exceptional place to sit at the bar for a drink, entertained by the talents and wit of their man behind the stick. The three shelves behind him hold the cream of the alcoholic output from around the world. The cupboards hide shelved refrigeration containing a myriad of specialty glassware and at least three types of ice. The jacuzzi, the sunken lounge, the outside cigar deck, the croupier, the furs.

If a room can be a sexual beast this one is. It’s like Frank Sinatra, James Dean and Hugh Hefner asked E. Stewart Williams to design them a pleasure palace in George St.

The staff are supremely friendly and talented. The drinks are mixed lovingly with the best spirits. Admission is by membership or invitation only. This is a very different world.

Words don’t adequately describe the experience I had here last night. I can’t wait to go back.

Where is it? If you have to ask, you’re probably not invited.

Bar, Cocktail, Sydney

Gin Garden.


A specialist Gin bar, with 20 varieties behind the bar, Plymouth in the rack. This, on paper, is my sort of bar. On the strength of the experience afforded by Merivale sister bar, Lotus, I dragged a few unsuspecting folk along to the Gin Garden, out the back of the Establishment in George St. 

It was packed, with a Friday crowd of footy watchers and ladies off to the dry-cleaners taking up pretty much every piece of available space between each wall. The fit out in the establishment is sparse, but the shiny crowd more than makes up for the lack of shiny things the other Merivale group venues I have visited. We skirted the crowd and found a niche under the glass expanse of the Gin Garden, a broken down linkage of building smartly bridged and luxuriant with peacock feathers and a line of Plymouth topping the bar. So far, so good.

I ordered a French 75, a CC & dry, a Whiskey Sour and a Negroni, using Tanqueray, for me. The engaging company stopped my usual ritual of watching the barman like a hawk.

On taking up my drink, the wheels began to fall off this experience. The colour was good, but the dishwasher warmth of their finest quality rocks ‘plastic’ was already diluting my cocktail but not imbuing the cool and crisp nature i love so much.

I took a sniff at the mixture and stifled the first hints of alarm, missing from the bouquet was the unmistakable smell of juniper.

Helen Keller once said:

Smell is a potent wizard that transports you across thousands of miles and all the years you have lived. 

The smell of a Negroni transports me across oceans, It reminds me of friends, it fills my soul with memory. The smell of this drink, stopped the music, ended my evening and sent me home unhappy. Forgetting the Gin in a Gin based cocktail, at a bar specializing in Gin is frankly unforgivable.

Style 8/10

Substance 2/10

252 George St, Sydney.

02 9240 3000

Google Map.


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