Varnish on King: A gin amongst the whiskey
Completely by accident, I chose a whiskey bar as our next stop. With my formula of choosing highly rated Perth cocktail bars, it was the obvious next stop, and two martinis in, I failed to notice what its specialty was. As soon as we entered the cosy underground bar, we realised that Varnish on King
takes its identity pretty seriously. The very colour palette of the venue was warm and whiskey themed: exposed red brick walls, dark leather booths, red-brown floorboards, and a wood-panelled ceiling. And behind the bar, a wall of golden whiskey bottles.
I was nervous ordering my gin martini at this place, but I shouldn’t have worried. The friendly, bearded bartender responded positively, and immediately asked if I wanted it dry or wet. He informed me that he would choose a good gin, as I obviously wasn’t looking for a cheap drink, and brought out an Archie Rose. With unwavering focus, he rubbed a classic martini glass with lemon and filled it with ice, then after stirring the gin and vermouth, he used one slice of lemon rind for a puff of flavour and one for garnish.
I noticed he used a dropper to add a mysterious clear liquid to the mix before pouring, and when asked, he said it was saline solution, which would create a better mouthfeel and cut some of the bitterness from the gin. And he was right, the salty liquid added the flavour usually gained from olives, while the lemon rind kept the drink fresh and mild. However, I did find that the saltiness lingered on my tongue for longer than usual.