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Gin Lane: Small, But Perfectly Formed

TASTE9
ATMOSPHERE9
SERVICE9
9Overall Score

Gin Lane 
16A Kensington Street,Chippendale NSW 2008
(02) 9281 0855
Mon & Tues 5pm – Late, Wed, Thurs, Sun 4:00pm – Late, Fri 12pm – Late, Sat 3pm – Late
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I’m going to call this early, Gin Lane is going to be voted Sydney’s best Small bar this year. If it doesn’t, we’ll make our own award and you heard it here first.

Here’s why: Its small, hence the small bar award, it seats just 45 people and even at 6pm on a Monday it was buzzing with a pleasant level of activity.

And it’s good, not just kind of good or passable good, but good. The drinks are interesting, the food is well thought through and the service is rock solid.

There are a few rules when you review bars for a living. For a start, you have to have a few drinks that you try at every bar to see if they know what they are doing.

The physics professors – or at least the astro-physicists call these standard candles – something against which you can compare the brightness of everything else.

I’ve got three standard candle: The Gimlet, The Negroni and The Martini. These drinks seem simple but they aren’t. They are hard to make well and easy to mess up.

Here’s the thing when I ordered the Martini, Grant Collins, the guy who designed the bar the menu and trained the staff said: “what type of Gin do you like.”

That’s a good question. I like London Gins, like Sapphire or Ford’s – because London Gin’s are dry and quite sharp. You can have Gins sweet or full of Botanicals, but I like them dry.

So, he made me a Martini using Fords Gin, which is he has imported from London.  The Martini was dry and as cold as an ex-lovers smile. It was perfect.

It wasn’t surprising to find Fords Gin at Gin Lane – they have 80 different types and a decent selection of Whisky. I thought about having a Whisky – but tonight was about Gin.

My companion tried the Negroni, short and sweet and perfect. After that I had an Aspen Gimlet – which is Gin Lane’s twist on the standard Gimlet, instead a tall glass with lime – its almost an alcoholic lemon slushie, but it’s worth it.

While we were eating, they brought us small bowls of nuts, which had dried anchovies, chopped chillies and some kind of salty sweet fish sauce drizzled on them – the spicy salt is a perfect companion to the sweet and dry cocktails.

Finally, we tried a Gunpowder Plot. A fantastic of cocktail – complete with smoke filled bell jar and a drink that tastes like a bushfire. It was excellent – both in theatrical values and taste.

The Gunpowder Plot – the cocktail is a good metaphor for Gin Lane – the bar. For a start a production cocktail is hard to do well and easy to do badly – the people at Gin Lane make it look easy. And the name – Gunpowder Plot is a reference to the Guy Fawkes attempt to blow up the houses of Parliament in the 1700’s.

Gun Powder Plot Cocktail

The name Gin Lane is the same thing – it’s the title of a drawing by a man called William Hogarth – showing the evils of Gin drinking in London in the 1700’s.

I’m not going to bore you with story of how the Dutch brought Gin to England and how that screwed up the country, I’m not going to bore you with the how Gin is made or the techniques and how you can flavour it – but I’m going to tell you if you want to find a really excellent small bar to get quietly bombed at with a few friends, then go to Gin Lane. Chippendale is cool, Kensington Lane is cool and Gin Lane is the real deal. Call ahead, its busy – book a table, it’s worth it, it’s going to be the best small bar in Sydney.  Trust me – even if we’re awarding it.

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