Some of the best gin going around in Sydney is being served at The Bar at the End of the Wharf, the new bar at Sydney Theatre Company. The old Wharf Restaurant has been repositioned more appropriately at the front of Wharf Two while the end of Wharf Three/Four has been gorgeously redesigned by the fabulous designer Alice Babidge. It’s warm and functional with low lights, canteen tables and an impressive book self. The main room opens out onto two spacious balconies over the water. It’s a good hike all the way to the end of the wharf, but it’s certainly worth it for the bar, even if you aren’t seeing a show.
I tried Aviation here first in a gin and tonic. I’ll be honest, I’d already had a few glasses of wine so my palate was a little dull but I enjoyed its fullness and ordered a bottle online.
A few weeks later I finally got to taste it properly. Aviation clocks in at 42% so it has a big ethanol punch up front. Then the full spicy flavour hits the back of the tongue, gorgeous and earthy. I was surprised at a buzzing across the front of my tongue, it felt familiar but I couldn’t place it. I looked at the bottle and realised it’s distilled in copper, that was the metallic zing. When served in a gin and tonic the metallic taste was subdued but the earthy spice still rings through. The label describes the gin as floral, looking at the website the recipe includes lavender and sweet dried orange peel, but to my palate juniper, cardamom and Indian sarsaparilla offer stronger, spicier notes.
Aviation is relatively new. It has been stilled in Seattle by bar tender Ryan Magarian and distiller Christian Krogstad for the last eight years. They describe its style as New Western Dry, it hasn’t been formally recognised as a style yet but it is being used to describe a wave of modern gins that balance juniper with an exciting range of other botanicals. I’m planning a post on gin styles in the not too distant future and look at this in more detail then.
A friend of mine confessed pilfering a little Aviation from a friend’s bottle and described it as rocket fuel, I can see where she’s coming from, but I love the audacious flavour of ethanol and spice. It’s terrific in a gin and tonic, but absolutely wonderful in a dirty martini if you’ve got stomach – or liver – for it.