Award-winning bartender Jeremy Shipley’s changing our order at The Clock Hotel to a ‘gin and tonic’. And we’re happy to oblige.
Not least because he’s the one behind the drinks.
Now that acclaimed mixologist Jeremy Shipley (ex-Bacardi Lion) has taken the helm of The Clock’s drinks list, he’s shaking things up at this here establishment. His first motion? To convert its upstairs Balcony Bar into a Gin and Tonic bar. Yes, a bar completely dedicated to the G&T.
Cue a line of worldly gentlemen (more Roger Sterling, less Don Draper) at the door?
Not even close.
Jeremy’s not so much seeking to please the seasoned drinkers, as to educate the cocktail obsessed over how diverse and creative this humble drink can be. It was an idea inspired by an emerging trend called Gin Tonica, which he noticed while travelling through Spain. This ‘trend’ is a series of specialist gin bars famous for stocking over 50 varieties of gin and tonics, including some of the rarest and most exclusive brands they can source from Canada, France, and Finland.
That’s not all. The real star of these Gin Tonicas is the fact that punters can become their own mixologist, choosing which gin and which tonic from the outfit’s stock they’d like the bartender to pour over a cube of ice and garnish for them.
Got a date with a G&T at The Clock? Sure, you do.
The vibe: Casual, friendly, and completely Surry Hills-ey.
Cuisine: Modern Australian
Ideal for: After work drinks, and drinkers in general.
Bartender’s choice: Hotel Georgia
By the way... Jeremy's got big (alcoholic) plans for The Clock's Lobby in the near future. We've been sworn to secrecy over what they are, but let's just say, we're pretty excited about it. And you will be, too.
Of course, drinkers can veto this mix-and-match opportunity for an expertly crafted concoctions off the drinks list. But when you’ve so many gins and tonics turning your eyes into saucers bar-side, really, why would you?
Don’t get us wrong, The Clock’s Balcony Bar is NOT a Gin Tonica. While the dream is to someday introduce this trend to Australian shores, in reality Jeremy understands that we need to develop a love and appreciation for the gin and tonic before it can take off. And Balcony Bar, well, it’s the best place to start.
He’s already taken care of the garnishes for us, matching each gin with a fragrant and sometimes atypical flavour. Think lavender, olives, cucumber, capsicum, and coriander, to name a few. He then builds a signature drink around this marriage.
What results is a 14-strong list of well-crafted heavy hitters and sweeter alternatives. So whether your palette lends itself toward the ‘stiff and dry’, or is more attuned to fruity and citrusy, there’s something here that’s sure to please.
Expert tip: keep an eye out for the cocktail specials, which I’m told will be around three-strong on any given night. Tonight, ours is the Hotel Georgia. Served high in a martini glass, it’s mix of Plymouth gin, almond syrup, sugar syrup, orange blossom, egg white, and grated nutmeg, makes it an easy segway into the world of gin for even the most notorious vodka drinker.
Of the standard G&Ts, The Botanist and its 22 native island botanicals is a refreshing swill and one you can keep returning to all night long, though for something a little stronger and sharper the Sipsmith (orris root, ground almond, cinnamon, orange and coriander seeds) is your best bet.
Keep continuing along that G&T path (read: list) and by night’s end, like us, you’ll have moved up in the gin world and onto that barrel aged Negroni that’s been calling you from the bar since you walked in. Equal parts Plymouth gin, Campari, and Sweet Vermouth, normally I find these a little strong and hard to swallow, but The Clock’s goes down smooth and isn’t too heavy on the alcohol.
Gin problem? What gin problem?
Address: 470 Crown St, Surry Hills
Opening hours: Daily 12pm-12am
Phone number: (02) 9331 5333