Cocktails infused with gunpowder tea-spiked gin, mouth-watering concoctions that eerily bubble over the edge of a skull shaped goblet, and a smoking treasure chest pouring with plumes of smoke are just some of the whimsical treats you can expect at Sydney’s Gin Lane.

The specialty gin bar offers the finest drops of premium liquor and marries it with a splendidly theatrical affair. Think clouds of dry ice, boozy flames and a quirky gadget that transforms sweet red wine into mystical vapour to truly tantalise all your senses.

Gin Lane exudes 18th century London charm with emerald hues and a terrace illuminated by shrubs draped in fairylights – making it exceptionally easy to enjoy a mid-week classic gin cocktail.

While the traditional mixes are quintessential to any gin-tasting experience, it was the dramatic concoctions that really made the evening go with a swing.

Starting the show was the Gunpowder Plot – inspired by the UK’s annual Guy Fawkes Night. Served in a smoking cloche with gunpowder twigs, it was an interesting mix of gunpowder tea-spiked gin, Fernet-Branca, gunpowder syrup, dandelion and burdock bitters and fresh citrus. For a drinker with an aversion to anything sweet and sugary, the smoky aromas were delightfully intriguing.

“This drink has the tastes and smells of bonfire night in the UK,” Gin Lane founder Grant Collins explained as he lifted the cloche. “It’s playing on your nose and palate combined.”

In contrast to the smouldering fragrance came the Spiced Bramble Fog – a sweeter cocktail served with an intriguing vapour. The drink itself, which is a play on a classic English concoction, features spiced gin, pressed citrus and blackcurrant – but it was the tube of spiced mulled wine fog that stole the show.

Gin Lane among the best gin bars in Australia.
GoT Wildfire

The wine fog was poured into the glass for us to inhale before we took a sip of the cocktail, turning it from drink to multi-sensory experience. The spiced red wine at the bottom of the cylinder is vaporised when it passes through the dry ice, which forms a cloud that you can pour into your cocktail.

“You drink it through your nose first with the liquid smoke and then drink the drink after,” Collins explains. “Instead of a scratch and sniff, it’s a sniff and drink.

“The cloud goes up behind your sinuses – when you stop drinking, you can actually taste it up behind your eyeballs.”

And did we ever. The vaporised mulled wine proved a fun element to meddle with – but there were plenty more drinkable amusements to follow.

There’s no room for modesty with the GoT Wildfire: a dramatic potion of Tanqueray London Dry Gin, apricot, pressed passionfruit and pineapple, barrel-aged bitters, pressed lime and green chartreuse – all served in a smoking Game of Thrones skull goblet, which overflows with bubbles when it’s ready to drink. Daintier in the hand is the delightful Lemon Aspen Gimlet – a zesty little number bursting with Tanqueray London Dry Gin, Cointreau, fresh-pressed citrus and locally foraged fresh-pressed lemon aspen sorbet (local to Sydney’s Northern Beaches).

If that’s not enough, Gin Lane offers an exceptional range of cocktails to share. The whimsical GL Aquarium is exactly as it sounds. The aquarium is filled with gin, Pavan, cinnamon syrup, Blue Curacao, marine bitters, white cacao, orange bitters and prosecco complete with novelty fish.

It’s the presentation theatrics of the Smoking Treasure Chest that really steal the show. A wooden chest pours smoke plumes and twinkles with sparklers as curious eyes peer from neighbouring tables. How to decant this spiced rum, pressed pineapple, barrel-aged bitters, pressed mint, apricot liqueur and ginger beer infusion? Take your dainty teacup and scoop for treasure.

From the moment you lay eyes on one of the wonderous creations, it’s easy to see why Gin Lane has been nominated as one of the best gin bars in Australia. The quaint terrace bar is among 10 finalists in the running to take out the golden title, which will be announced 17 September 2019.

This cocktail lounge is more than just one of the best in the country offering 150 different gins. It’s a magical experience with the power to convert even the fussiest of spirit snobs into truly adoring gin enthusiasts.

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