BARTENDER OF THE YEAR
Trish Brew, Gin Palace
As the juniper joint reaches a milestone, we salute the woman whose Martini skills make her a Melbourne treasure
A YEAR IN the life of a bar is a milestone, so when Gin Palace turned 20 this year, Vernon Chalker made sure to put on a most elaborate show. Gin Palace took over Russell Place and handed over even more luxe, freeflowing gin, making sure to celebrate the familiar faces who have helped make them the CBD staple for long, gin-soaked nights. Since its inception, the offering at Gin palace has never changed: an ever-growing collection oof gins, cocktails to suit, top-standard Martinis, rough chat, no phone reception, chicken sandwiches and a whole lot of velvet. It’s the kind of bar that promotes hedonism and a loss of inhibition, unsurprising when Martinis come at 90ml (the industry standard is 60ml) aand table service keeps you planted in your seat all night long. When ordering the classic Martini here you can choose from over 300 gins, a range of vermouths, and customise your garnish. Perfecting that balance is no small feat, which is why the venue has a crew on board who are as passionate as they are nerdy about their core spirit. Notable Gin Palace alumni (Shaun Byrne, Nick Tesar, Hugh Leech) have moved over to the production end by creating fortifieds and liqueurs that work well with gin, under labels Maidenii and Marionette Liqueur. It’s not uncommon to find symphony orchestra instrumentalists, cast members from the Princess Theatre, comedians, tourists, office workers and hospitality veterans throwing back a few in this basement lounge. And the person who knows all the names behind these faces is the manager, Trish Brew. Her style is confident, matter of fact and fiercely efficient while making everyone feel like they’re the most important person in the room. It’s a skill that is encouraged across the whole team, and what keeps this ageing bar in its prime.