The Beginner’s Guide To Melbourne’s Gin Scene
Gin has been having a renaissance of late. Light and refreshing, it’s a diverse spirit that Melbourne’s bar scene has gone mad for. Local distillers have been turning heads in the industry thanks to their unique infusion of Australian botanicals in production and their bold experimentation with flavour profiles. While the sheer variety on offer might seem a bit daunting, now is really the best time to dip your toe in the water. Here are some of the most beginner-friendly gin bars in town.
The Gin Palace
The only way to start is with a stylish underground establishment that specializes in gin (as you might guess from the name). Plush couches and an ornamental piano create lend the bar a sophisticated ambience. The diverse menu means there’s plenty to choose from, so why not bunker in for the night and taste your way through the menu under the guidance of expert bar staff. Cucumber is ribboned. Fresh berries are a-plenty. Gin flows from 4pm-3am daily.
Bad Frankie is named after the infamous Governor of Van Diemen’s Land, John Franklin, who outlawed small pot stills in the early 19th Century. Bad, bad Frankie. This is the home of the original Lamington jaffle, plus a whole three pages dedicated to Australian gins. Our top tip? Go for the Pepperberry Fizz – Melbourne Gin Company gin mixed with lemon and pepperberry syrup and topped with soda for a perfect summer thirst-buster. The crew at Bad Frankie also offers master classes on the history and distilling processes of certain spirits. More details on their website.
The Melbourne bar scene loves its inconspicuous locations, especially in the CBD. Romeo Lane is no different. Close to the booming Rice Paper Scissors and Pellegrini’s Pasta bar, it’s the perfect place to bookend a night on the town (or maybe just spend the whole night there). It’s a quaint, classic place that feels like a warm hug once you walk in the door.
What cocktail list wouldn’t be complete without a trip to 1806? This iconic bar has an incredibly extensive cocktail menu, from classic punches of the 19th century, all the way to the caipirinhas and cosmopolitans of the modern era. For gin, you’re set with a wide range of concoctions from the ages, including the ‘Clover Club’ – Tanqueray and two types of vermouth with raspberry syrup and lemon. The table service means you won’t have to move a muscle, except for when sipping your drink.
The Everleigh is well-known, well-sought, and well-awarded. It was named Cocktail Bar of the Year (2014) and Bar of the Year (2015) by Timeout and has also placed twice in Drinks International ‘World’s 50 Best Bars’ recently. There’s no question why given the meticulous eye to detail and a careful consideration when preparing any drink for their guest. The Bartender’s Choice option is ever-changing and can be tailored to suit your palate, however the Light Horseman is our pick – gin, passionfruit, ginger, lime and soda. It’s a classic with a twist, served in a place that’s batting way above Melbourne’s average.
Thomas Olive combines all we love about gin and a wide range of cocktails with inventive ‘Modern Australian’ fare thanks to downstairs Saint Crispin. The upstairs bar features six gins from around the world, including a couple from Settlers Distillery in McLaren Vale. The bar’s saffron Negroni is divine, featuring Gabriel Boudier saffron gin with elderflower liquer and Lillet Blanc. Eat and drink the night away.
Bar Americano isn’t a place to expect plush lounges or even space. This hole in the wall fits ten people standing, and the reason guests continue to arrive at this establishment is because of its cocktails. The drinks menu serves unashamedly classic cocktails that change weekly to reflect seasonality and whim. Currently, Christmas is on show, with winter spices, honey and dried fruits highlighted. Also, why not pick up some bottled Negroni as a perfect Christmas gift for a very special loved one.
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