According to legend (or at least the story on the back of my menu), a renowned English botanist once moved to Kirribilli and opened up a book store on the site where The Botanist has now opened – which explains this bar’s botanical bent.
The bar counter has a floral pattern engraved in the top which actually looks stylish rather than tacky, there are ferns on the ground and pot plants scattered around the various tables, and there’s plenty of wood panelling that goes with the white/green colour scheme. The kitsch is restrained (at least by small bar standards) to walking sticks hanging on hooks in the corridor and some old paintings of dudes wearing funny hats.
The crowd here is freshly shampooed, buffed and waxed, as if they came from a slightly more mature version of The OC. Since I feel like I came from the set of Welcome Back Kotter, I hide behind a fern at the bar counter and peruse the menu.
All the cocktails here have either herbs or fruit in them and quite frankly look a little too healthy for my taste – until I spy the Orange Cinnamon Julep (Bulleit bourbon, fresh mint, orange cinnamon syrup and a splash of water – $17).
Served in a tall glass with crushed ice and a sprig of mint poking out the top, this is a great variation on the mint julep. I love how the orange, cinnamon and mint flavours work with the bourbon, and find this much smoother than most of the other juleps I’ve had in the past. As a cocktail nerd, my one criticism is they didn’t serve it in a traditional silver julep cup – but then, this isn’t a traditional julep.
The contemporary folk music playing in the background is quiet enough for conversation, the service here is friendly, and the food menu includes mini burgers, pizza, share plates such as quesadillas, as well as snacks such as chips, olives and dahl (which I’ve never seen listed as a bar snack before). However, although the burgers look tempting the pretty people here make me uneasy – so I slide out and head to the chicken shop up the road instead.
In short, this is a stylish small bar that’s suited to Kirribilli. Whether or not I’m suited to Kirribilli, however, is a whole different matter.
The Botanist, 17 Willoughby Street, Kirribilli. See the The Botanist bar’s website here