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New speakeasy in Central demonstrates expertise behind the bar with a string of well-done tipples
Recently there appeared a curious-looking door on Staunton Street with a small window that betrays only darkness behind it. Put an ear to the door, and nothing can be heard. There’s an innocuous chrome light switch to the right that upon first glance may be taken as a stylised doorbell – flick this and prepare to enter Central’s newest speakeasy.
The opening of this place was almost as mysterious as the venue itself, the news spreading predominantly via word of mouth. Despite this, we know that the bar is new and that, for now, making an appointment by phone or the bar’s Facebook page is the only way to enjoy the experience.
The interior has the look and feel of a classic cocktail bar with backlit mirrors on cerulean walls, marble tables, gold finishes and cosy corners. A narrow space flanked by seats opens up to the bar counter. Behind the bar stands shelf after shelf packed with various bottles of spirits rising toward the tall ceiling. Old-timey jazz and rock ‘n’ roll numbers play softly in the background, providing an atmosphere conducive to thoughtful conversation.
The menu is extensive, with selections of whiskies and gins (averaging around $118 per serving), champagne, red and whites – mostly by the bottle. The cocktail menu is a great introduction to what the bar is all about as it offers classics and house signature classic twists.
The It Girl ($128) is a tasty and creative lead-in to the menu. Made with lime infused bourbon, Campari, and rouge vermouth, this Boulevardier twist bears a subtle hint of mango. The Prove Them Wrong ($128) cocktail, made with raisin-infused rum and sherry, lends a powerful, dour character that is tempered by the sweetness from a splash of fresh blueberry juice. The drink had Mezcal mixed in for a smoky note.
The Crimson Tide ($128) is akin to a savoury bloody Mary, but because it uses fresh tomato juice and lemon in the mix, the colour is pale yellow. Instead of a traditional vodka, the cocktail uses a nori-infused gin base. The tipple is deliciously spicy, with a salty hit of nori in the nose that gives way to the fresh zest of the lemon and celery notes.
All in all, the cocktails make it clear that The Poet is serious about their craft. The atmosphere is pleasant and, while not exactly making for a joint that will positively knock your socks off, certainly makes The Poet a decent choice for a date or catch up with friends over thoughtful drinks crafted with quality ingredients.