Historically, gin has had a PR problem. Gin mill’s were places of ill-repute; gin itself was the source of Mother’s Ruin, and one Irish comedian described the juniper-flavoured spirit as mascara thinner for its supposed propensity to make girls cry. But gin wasn’t bad, it was just misunderstood, which is how it has gone from zero to hero of the Sydney bar scene in 2015. And the Barber Shop was one of its earliest cheerleaders.
The city already had Stitch, a bar hidden behind a seamstress, but we love being in on the secret, so a gin palace hidden behind a full functioning barber shop was right up our alley. And they really love gin here. There’s north of 80 bottles on the menu at this low-lit hideaway with a slight terrarium vibe, including a vintage collection for people with money to burn. They also feature Genever, the Dutch spirit from which gin originates.
Maybe Sydney got more gins so people were able to find one they like, or maybe we started to like gin so we got more varieties – either way we got more, better gin. Result! Our newfound tastes have even caused local distilling operations like Archie Rose and Poor Toms to get in on the act and make local spirits.
We’ve been banging on about gin for a while, but you don’t have to drink it – even if there’s no better way to cool down a hot night in the city than with a high-end G & T. Perhaps a Maxwell House is more your speed. Dark rum, chestnut liqueur, cold drip coffee and salted caramel create a short and boozy cocktail that’s somehow sweet, toasty and refreshing all at once. Right about now would be a good time to keep your balance with a cheese board, a little charcuterie or a house made sausage roll.
Any place you can get a cut and a shave followed by a gin and a cheese plate is somewhere we want to get to know better, so if you need us we’ll be propping up the bar seeing how much refreshing ruination we can take.