Not too long ago, the global fine-dining scene went through a period of obsession with molecular gastronomy. Ambitious cooking techniques and presentation methods became all the rage, and the cocktail scene adopted a similar mentality in tandem. From Martin Lange’s point of view, recent times have seemingly brought about the return of well-executed simplicity – a keener focus on classic offerings that make the most of a limited palette of ingredients. Martin would know all about bar trends – as owner of Cobbler in West End and one fourth of the ownership group behind Death & Taxes and now Dr. Gimlette, he is a seasoned hand at cocktail-centric hospitality and an avowed lover of the simple classics. The Death & Taxes crew, comprised of Martin and Wiebke Lange and Belinda and Blake Ward, weaved many time-honoured techniques and tipple traditions into the essence of its moody Burnett Lane bar when it opened in 2019. Dr. Gimlette, its ambitious, experience-driven and cocktail-oriented kin, shares much of the same DNA, including its heritage location, luxurious aesthetic and old-school approach to service. That being said, Dr. Gimlette is far from a carbon copy of Death & Taxes. When it opened to the public on Tuesday September 7, drinkers were greeted by a venue that embraces bright and bold old-world glamour – one that caters to large groups of libation lovers with a sense of showmanship that is synonymous with high-end cocktail parlours.
Dr. Gimlette’s abode – a long, high-ceilinged space situated on the ground-floor of the old Metro Arts building on Edward Street – is the latest heritage-listed space to to be reinvigorated by the Death & Taxes team. A substantial refurbishment process was geared more towards maximising the location’s existing elements and honouring its heritage with soft touches. Original brick walls were restored, warm timber panels were added to cover some exposed concrete slabs and the ceiling was improved for soundproofing purposes before the team installed Dr. Gimlette’s centrepiece fixtures – a 9-m long white-marble bar (equipped with fetching wooden cabinetry) and a cluster of four cushy Italian-leather booths. The abundance of open space helps build a sense of thrilling theatre across the venue at large, with each of Dr. Gimlette’s seats – from the booths (big enough to seat ten sets of cheeks) to the stately wingback chairs – boasting views of the bar and its impressive collection of bottles. Soon a few finishing touches – think vanitas-style artwork and the addition of black-marble tiling on the support pillars – will cement Dr. Gimlette as an escapist oasis for those seeking a break from the inner-city bustle.
Dr. Gimlette is, first and foremost, a cocktail bar – just one with a greater focus on experiential interactivity. Although its namesake might conjure images of a gin-centric offering (the venue draws inspiration from Rear-Admiral Sir Thomas Gimlette, who is said to have been the first to add lime cordial to the gin tot of the Royal Navy sailors to fight off scurvy – a practice that is said to have informed the creation of the gimlet cocktail), the team is eager to raise the bar across the board without relying on a specialty. An 800-strong back bar features a jaw-dropping range of spirits, aperitifs and liqueurs, including gins, rum/rhums, agave-infused sips and whiskies. Many of the liquids within these bottles trickle down into volume one of Dr. Gimlette’s cocktail list, which is overseen by Matt Baker and Anthony Burke and boasts more than 30 signature concoctions divided into categories such as fruit forward, highballs, technically driven, stirred down and boozy, luxe and gimlet variations. Although advanced apparatus (such as centrifuge juicers and sous vide systems) and theatrical flourishes like liquid nitrogen are in play, the menu is still grounded in simplicity, with most mixtures made using four or five ingredients, tops. Fresh produce is used liberally across the selection, with drinks like blood-orange spritz utilising of-the-moment ingredients at their seasonal peak. Guests can expect the key menu to evolve every eight months or so, while seasonal drinks will change monthly. The team is also well versed in the classics, with Dr. Gimlette’s accomplished crew of muddlers, shakers, throwers and swizzlers taking pride in its collective ability to research and recreate a vast Rolodex of recipes – serving them as they were meant to be served. Adding to the engaging drinking experience is Dr. Gimlette’s two roaming martini carts, which are equipped with everything needed to whip up just about any variation imaginable right there at your seat. Vino lovers will be stoked to know that Dr. Gimlette also boasts a considered selection of wines to enjoy, with bold Barossa reds and Margaret River cabernet sauvignon sharing menu space with riesling from Ministry of Clouds and Perrier-Jouët champagne.
Dr. Gimlette is now open to the public – operating hours and website links can be found in the Stumble Guide.