Bars and Nightclubs
George Street, Sydney

The Gin Garden (At the Establishment)

252 George St, Sydney, NSW
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An elegant colonial themed which is the first bar of its kind to serve over 24 types of gin. With a decadent cocktail list featuring traditional gin drinks as well as specials such as pink tonic punch and Dutch courage.

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The Gin Garden Review

Review by Kevin Moody

Walk through the main bar at Establishment on George Street and you enter into a secret garden. The Gin Garden – as the name suggests - is a paradise for gin drinkers, set in an elaborately decorated courtyard enclosed by a glass ceiling.

Immediately upon entering you are impressed by how this garden is presented, with exposed brickwork, Grecian pillars and plant life all around. The hanging baskets fitted with light bulbs are a nice touch, and provide ideal soft lighting.

A quick browse through the drinks menu shows there are eight signature gin cocktails and seven classics – referred to here as garden cocktails – all priced $16 to $18. To start I order a Southside, a prohibition era mix of gin, lime juice, sugar syrup and mint. The friendly barman skilfully makes the drink and the attention to detail is impressive, right down to carefully rubbing a mint leaf around the rim of the glass.

Sadly my excitement is tempered when I take my first sip, as I realise the martini glass it has been served up in is actually plastic. There really is nothing like chilled glass when sipping a fine cocktail and this plastic cup is a real shame. Still, it’s a delicious drink, strong and refreshing and perfectly balancing its flavour combinations.

Sitting in a garden sipping a cocktail sounds like a relaxing way to pass the evening. Well it would be a lot more relaxing if the hip-hop from the main bar was not being blasted over the PA system in here. It really does seem odd to dress up this space so elaborately, and then almost completely destroy its ambience.

There is also a pointless TV screen rotating images of revellers in the main bar. It’s such a shame as this place is almost ruined by this thoughtless approach. In truth there is no need for any music or visuals at all, just the sound of the Gin Garden’s water feature trickling in the back ground would be the perfect backdrop - after all, no garden is complete without one.

While the main bar at Establishment is a young person’s hangout the Gin Garden attracts a slightly older crowd, mainly couples and small groups. For a specialist bar like this serving reasonably expensive drinks this can only be expected.

Aside from the cocktails there are a total of 28 gins to try if you fancy a straight up G&T. The selections are mainly English – naturally – but the barman tries to point me in the direction of Lilly Pilly from Queensland.

Despite the recommendation I decide to sample a London gin by the name of No. 3. I select a traditional tonic as my mixer, but the Gin Garden does have a range of flavoured tonics. The slice of grapefruit in my glass gives my drink all the flavour it needs, and is a welcome change from the usual slice of lemon or lime.

For those not interested in gin there is also a good selection of other spirits, a handful of local and imported beers and a medium size wine list. You can also order from the est. restaurant wine list, but don’t expect find a bargain on there.

For gin lovers there is no better place to be, this has to be Sydney’s most comprehensive selection. The Gin Garden really is a spectacular setting for cocktails, and the drinks themselves are just as spectacular. If the same care and attention was given to the music policy than the Gin Garden would be close to perfection.

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