Friday night at The Barber Shop and a queue is already formed along York Street. Barely two days old, Sydney’s latest small bar with a barber shop is pumping with the ebb and flow of after work patrons.
You won’t find a spinning barber’s pole here. A whisky cabinet in a corner looks right at home with shaving products, vintage barber chairs and barber tools which complete the picture of a traditional barber shop.
The Barber Shop (L-R: Blood & Bandages, Fleet St Cocktail)
The Barber Shop is a venture by Mike Enright (ex Merivale Group Bars Manager), Julian Train and Chris Mills. The concept “brings the bartender craft with the barber skill”, Mike Enright explains.
An industrial steel sliding door separates the barber from the bar, a deliberate design feature that serves many purposes. “We didn’t want it to be speakeasy,“ Enright explains. The door acts as a barrier for hygiene reasons, provides sound proofing and separates the look of the barber shop from the bar.
The Barber Shop Bar
Inside the dimly-lit bar with slightly distressed walls in British racing green colour, an exposed ceiling with tubes and ducts complete the industrial look. The bar is the hub of the action yet you will find seating at various corners of the space if you arrive early.
An outdoor area with heaters in winter accommodates smokers and looks onto the entrance to the Baxter Inn.
The clever menu combines both the barber shop’s services and the drinks list in one. The bar selection impresses and carries more gin than other spirits with some of the more unusual finds such as Martin Miller’s Westbourne Strength Gin, Tanqueray Malacca, Brokers Export Strength and Plymouth Coates & Co 1970s edition.
A gin tap has been installed and pouring Plymouth Gin, featured in our Top 10 Gins article.
Plymouth Gin Tap
Other spirits have been selectively chosen and you’ll find a solid range of whisk(e)ys, rum, tequila and mezcal, eaux de vie, as well as aperitifs and digestifs.
The cocktail list gives a nod to Enright’s British heritage with some old style drinks such as the Brandy and Babycham ($18) with brandy, pear, lemon, sugar and topped with sparkling wine. Order a Gin and Tonic and it will come served in a goblet glass as you would get in a traditional pub.
L-R: Gin & Tonic, Barber Shop Winter Cup, Apple, Celery and Ginger Fizz
Start with the Apple, Celery and Ginger Fizz, made with Laird’s Apple Brandy, house made celery liqueur, ginger and apple cider. “It’s meant to be drunk like a morning juice,” General Manager, Will Oxenham explains from behind the bar. One small sip soon follows another. The cocktail is fresh, crisp and provides a light option with which to start the night.
The Fleet St Cocktail ($18) is also easy drinking made with gin, Chartreuse, pineapple, lemon and bitters. The signature drink, the Barber Shop Winter Cup ($17) is a British classic that makes use of seasonal and wintery flavours with a mix of Plymouth Gin, quince, bitters ginger and soda.
The favourite cocktail, Blood & Bandages ($19) is best left until the end. It is a delicious mix of morello-infused Mezcal, cherry brandy, Campari, orange and lemon – a perfect balance of citrus, bitterness and sweetness with a lingering smoky finish that leaves you wanting another.
The wine list offers a choice of seven reds, seven whites, sparkling and fortified wines. A modest beer and cider list includes Feral Brewing Hop Hog IPA ($12), White Rabbit Dark Ale ($9) and Aspall Organic Cider from Suffolk, England ($14).
Bar eats include Marinated Mixed Olives ($6), Mixed Cheeses with Lavosh and Mustard Fruits ($14) and Mixed Hams with Cornichons and Baguettes ($14), a platter with delicious jamón Serrano, smoked bresaola and chorizo. The Bread and Butter Project are providing the bread, an enterprise created by Bourke Street Bakery.
Down at the Barber Shop, you can leave yourself in the expert hands of Rowen Faulkner, whose extensive experience includes Hong Kong, Dubai, Bahrain, London, Bermuda and Guatemala City. Services include a haircut ($50), beard trim ($20) and clipper cut ($25).
A hot towel shave ($35) is a sensory and relaxing experience which starts with the warmth of the towel, the aromas of the products and the deft touch of Rowen’s razor blade as it glides from an initial shave to a finer shave leaving your skin soft, silky and smooth.
Hot Towel Shave and Cocktails
Every shave comes with a drink such as Jameson Irish whiskey after 2pm or fresh juice before 2pm and the bar takes bookings when the barber is closed.
Old Telephone at the Bar
While The Barber Shop may sound male-centric with Clipper Cuts and Beard Trims, it certainly does not alienate women. The vibe is buzzy and welcoming, casual and friendly, with strangers striking up conversations easily. This is the kind of bar where you can get groomed at the barber shop while having a drink, or simply wander up the stairs and feel right at home with the unpretentious ambience, quality service and relaxed surrounds.
The Barber Shop will soon offer merchandising, and will cross train bar and barber. Look out for the upcoming “Hangover Package”, a hot towel shave with a Bloody Mary. Now that’s a great antidote to a big night out.
The Barber Shop
89 York St
Sydney NSW 2000
Barber: Mon-Fri 10am-6pm
Bar: Mon-Fri 2pm-12am, Sat 4pm-12am
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