Wollongong will have its very own gin bar from Wednesday.
Not a smoked-filled Humphrey Bogart-style gin joint, but a modern venue that will tap into the vibrant gin craze sweeping Australia.
Illawarra Steelers legend Michael Bolt and his former partner Alli Dawson – the duo behind Stingray, Five Islands Brewery, Metro, Brasserie and Pig Dog – have teamed up with daughter Zoe Bolt to open Juniper on Keira Street.
The new bar was born after Cheeky Fig restaurateur Lorenzo Pagnan asked Mr Bolt if he knew anyone who might be interested in the hole-in-the-wall site next to his restaurant.
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Mr Bolt, owner of vodka fusion bar Red Square located directly across from the Cheeky Fig, thought the timing was right for a gin bar in Wollongong and jumped at the opportunity.
“I had been wanting to do a gin bar for a while and that is how it started,” Mr Bolt said.
“We have 50 gins to start with, and we are planning to grow that to 100.
“The majority of them are Australian - there is a huge gin movement here.”
The bar at 121 Keira Street will seat 65 inside, with another 15 covered outdoor settings at the front.
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Open from 5pm to midnight Wednesday to Saturday, the venue will offer a tapas menu and employ about 10 people.
Mr Bolt expects patrons will combine the new bar with a night out at one of the nearby restaurants on Keira Street, such as the Cheeky Fig, Caveau, Babyface and Rookie.
The opening comes amid other new plans for a rooftop bar at Hotel Illawarra and a total makeover of One Five One nightclub.
In her final year of a Media Communications degree at University of Wollongong, Zoe Bolt said she was excited to be joining the industry her parents have been a part of for decades.
The 21-year-old will help run the bar, while putting her education to work by looking after the marketing side of the business.
“I think it is pretty cool I get to do this,” Ms Bolt said.
“I have seen my parents run businesses my whole life and it is nice to now be part of that with them.
“I can definitely see myself following in their footsteps.”
She will be working closely with her mother Alli Dawson, an expert on the ever-growing selection of gin flavours and styles on the market.
“There is even a coastal gin from a Manly distillery with seaweed in it,” Ms Bolt said.
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