The bartender’s worrying about the smoke alarms as he serves my cocktail – and considering it’s encased in a glass cloche filled with so much smoke you can barely see the drink itself, I’m not surprised.
I’m in The Powder Keg, a new gin bar in Potts Point located where Aperitif used to be. It’s the latest venture by Grant Collins, a bar consultant known for adding theatricality to cocktails – and so I couldn’t help ordering the most over-the-top cocktail on the menu.
The bartender lifts the cloche, and the smoke immediately sends me back to my childhood days of burning leaves in the backyard. I suspect my growth was stunted as a result of breathing in all those fumes as a kid, but I’ll leave that story for my therapist and continue with the review.
The cocktail is called the Gun Powder Plot ($18), which is made with gin spiked with gunpowder tea, Fernet Branca, gunpowder syrup (made by combining gunpowder tea with sugar syrup), dandelion and burdock bitters, lemon juice and egg white for froth.
It’s the best cocktail I’ve had in months.
It’s hard to describe the flavour – I suppose you could say it’s like a bittersweet sour – and even when the smoke clears away (the smoke detectors didn’t go off) the aroma clings to the drink to make it something special.
This is the first reason why I recommend this bar.
The second is that it’s the first bar I’ve seen that has an entire menu page dedicated to gin and tonics: you can choose from a range of tonics, a staggering array of gins, as well as other flavour combinations from grapefruit bitters to different zests, flowers and even saffron.
The third reason is that the bartenders here are so friendly.
The Powder Keg has a restaurant up the front while the bar’s down the back – which, not surprisingly, is where I am, perched at the bar counter with a tempestuous Kiwi.
Although The Powder Keg is on street level, it has an intimate, subterranean vibe. Naked Edison bulbs and thin strips of orange lighting illuminate row upon row of gin bottles, while slightly bluesy funk plays.
To put it mildly, it’s worth going to.
The Powder Keg. 7 Kellet Street, Potts Point. Open Wednesday to Sunday. See The Powder Keg website.