I didn’t have any time or energy to blog here last month because everything was funnelled into my favourite ridiculous project, Ginuary.This was the second year I’ve done the challenge to the best of my ability, and the challenge (as set by me) was to have gin a different way every day. I’ve had gin sixty different ways now. Most of them have been cocktails, most of which I’ve made at home, but I also used it as a good excuse this year to scope out some potential drinking venues in Hobart.
Damnit, this post just got larger than I intended it to. I was just going to apologise for my absence in Ginuary and attach the finale photo above but now I’m going to mention all the places I drank in Hobart last month.
The Taste Festival
Hobart’s annual festival that takes over the waterfront for a week or so over the new year. Like a couple of other things in Hobart, it’s a little overexaggerated—the Taste is just a giant food hall. But if you’re prepared for that, it’s awesome. I had some issues sourcing gin, which was disheartening, but there was a happy ending to the story, so PHEW.
The Abbey Tavern & Preachers
Preachers and the Abbey are awesome spots for beer and cider. Amazing selections, whether you’re looking for a Tassie beverage, or an Aussie one, or even some internationals. Unfortunately last month I was on a gin hunt, and these two places (owned and run by the same team) are not the places to go for spirits. Preachers only does basics, with a fairly heinous selection of brands (pretty much one of each spirit, nothing top shelf). The Abbey has a “cocktails” board, but it’s strongly influenced by the tragic cocktail lists of the 90s. So, the moral of the story is, definitely go to these places if you want to drink beer and/or cider.
Nant Whisky Cellar & Bar
Cool small space, but not decked out as I’d expected at all. Very light and airy, with olive greens and golds… I suppose I was expecting more of a speakeasy vibe, darker and bedecked in crimson and dark wood. I’m still looking for that place. Nant is fairly classic if you like whisky. You can get whisky, whisky, or whisky cocktails, of which the list is full of old-school classics, so two thumbs up from me for that.
Grape Bar & Bottleshop / Grape Food & Wine
I think Grape have either just recently decided to alter their name or they tried a while ago and it didn’t really stick. Anyone know? In any case, GRAPE (whatever the rest may be) is a buzzing hive in the middle of Salamanca Place. There’s definitely a strong focus on their wine cellar here, so get into a bottle or two. Grape’s bartender the evening I went in for Ginuary was a surprise delight, making up something on the spot for me, so I’ll definitely be back to Grape to test his cocktail skills out again!
Tavern 42 Degrees South (T42)
I wasn’t keen on going to T42, for some reason. I think my brain associated it with 42Below Vodka, and I don’t really care for vodka, and last month was all about gin. Turns out there’s a gin fan behind the bar at T42 and they have a fairly awesome selection of gins on the shelves. There’s a short but sweet cocktail menu with enough of a tempting selection to make me want to go back again, and the design of the place is pretty cool. I want to go back again soon to spend some time in Tug Bar, just next door (part of T42 but with its own separate bar). It’s a specialist rum bar, so I think they’ve missed the boat there, but the decor is excellent.
The Mill on Morrison
It’s a pity that not more of the Mill’s space is given to the bar, because the current bar manager is pretty passionate about cocktails, running a fairly impressive menu and doing some really cool stuff with infused spirits. I felt pretty weird walking past all the restaurant-set tables just to get a drink at the bar. Was I sitting in the wrong area? Is there more to the Mill than the main restaurant section? I saw a hint of something looking vaguely courtyard-y as I was on my way out…
The Lark Distillery
The utter disappointment I felt when I first visited the Lark on a holiday to Tasmania in 2011 has stuck with me, but only in that every time I go to Lark these days I have to giggle. Similar to my feelings about Nant, after spending a bit of time gazing at Lark’s website prior to my trip I was expecting something lush and dark. Instead my friend and I walked in on a Friday night to a rollicking live country band, plastic-covered tables with stackable plastic chairs, and a very local feel. If you go in expecting that then Lark is bloody good stuff. Just don’t expect any fancy shit. Bonus: Lark goes off on a Friday night, go grab a burger from Stu.
Void Bar @ MONA
It’s become tradition for me to hit up the Void Bar on the bottom floor of the Museum of Old and New Art for a strong cocktail before I face the antiquities on that floor. I love Void, and I love Void’s gorgeous cocktail menu, but twice now (in a row) the drink I’ve asked for (a different one each visit) has been unavailable due to one or more ingredients being unavailable. Sorry, but if you have a menu, at least make all the menu items a constant possibility. Otherwise try a different menu attack, okay? (The drinks I have had there were very nice, but I hate disappointment.)
The 21st Amendment @ MONA Market
I pretty much lost my mind with glee when I showed up to MONA’s first summer Saturday market to find that one of this summer’s stalls was a gin bar. Rose, the stall owner, and I are now on a first-name basis. I only wish the 21st Amendment was a permanent fixture in some classy little space in the city, but at this stage I’m just going to have to live for Saturdays at MONA. The market’s well worth a lunch visit, too.
IXL Long Bar
My Ginuary finale was held at this classy bar attached to the Henry Jones Art Hotel. I planned to finish the month here anyway, but the night before I rustled together a small crew of friends to join me in toasting the end of my second liver-bashing event. It’s not that literally long, to be honest, but on a Friday afternoon with the live pianist tinkering away and a delicious dry martini in hand, IXL Long Bar is my new high.
I may do another post in the future to cover more drinking holes like the New Sydney Hotel, the Pumphouse, and Sidecar… but I will forever chase a decent shaken-or-stirred. Is there anywhere else to get a classy cocktail in Hobart? I’m willing to listen!