Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Bar review #1: Bulletin Place (Sydney)

In the interests of keeping this blog a little varied (while still focusing on whisky), on occasion I'll include the odd bar review. I mean we all need to drink that whisky somewhere, right?

With that in mind, I couldn't think of a place to start than the recently-opened Bulletin Place in Sydney's CBD. Opened in late December, Bulletin Place sits in a little-known laneway near Circular Quay (funnily enough called Bulletin Place). With the bar's increasing popularity (not to mention Tapavino next door, who'll supply the food for Bulletin Place), it won't remain "little-known" for long.

Bulletin Place is a labour of love from three of the industry's best bartenders - Tim Philips (some may know him as the 2012 Diageo Reserve World Class Global Bartender of the Year), Robb Sloann and Adi Ruiz, all three of whom passed through Melbourne's famed Black Pearl at one stage or another, and all of whom have held court behind the bar at some of the country's best cocktail dens.

With space for 50, Bulletin Place isn't a big bar, but it's a bar with a lot of heart. The focus is on fresh produce, and the cocktail menu changes daily based on what the guys can get their hands on. The back bar is all about quality over quantity, and there's a mid-sized but well-curated selection of whiskies (stored in a crate on the bar, rather than hiding behind it). Whiskies include Talisker 57deg North, Glenlivet 21, a few Ardbegs, Yamazaki 18yo and a very tasty cask-strength Bakery Hill. A great mix of regions and world whiskies for such a small bar.

Steph (my wife) and I have visited twice now (both times Tim wasn't around - the life of the World's best bartender is a busy one it seems!) and both times Robb and Adi really made everyone feel welcome. One thing that really struck me about these guys is that they always seem to know what we want in a cocktail, even with such vague instructions as "short and strong, please". It's the same thing I experienced when I was luckily enough to visit ivy's Level 6 on my buck's night just over a year ago - every cocktail Tim made back then was spot on.

At one stage, Steph asked Adi for something with Zacapa, and far from the usual Zacapa Old Fashioneds, Negronis etc...received what I can only describe as a Zacapa Bellini with honey. It was delicious, and combined 3 of Steph's favourite ingredients (Zacapa, honey and champagne). Spot on every time these guys...

Of course, they also have a small but well thought-out selection of wine and beer for those who like their drinks simpler.

The crowd seems to be a mix of city workers, bartenders and generally anyone looking for a friendly venue with great drinks (when we last visited, a few of the Chaser gang were enjoying drinks in the corner too). 9pm on a Friday was busy, but certainly not uncomfortably so (and most importantly, we were able to grab two seats at the bar - always sit at the bar!).

Bulletin Place is open Monday to Saturday, 4pm to midnight and is sure to only get more popular as word gets out. Add it to your list of Sydney bars to check-out this Summer!


PS:....oh, and on our last visit, they had the Stones cranking on the stereo. Does it get any better?

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