By Sacha Delfosse – editor bars&clubs

The team behind Sydney bars Grasshopper and The Boston has quietly opened the doors recently to a new, members only cocktail bar.

Magazin, the latest creation from Martin O'Sullivan, John Toubia and Belinda Lai, is a small, stylish and sophisticated basement bar in an undisclosed location, which can cater for up to 80 people, decked out with intimate seating and booths.

The venue offers table service only and, rather than a conventional bar set up, has a custom built bar designed around the bartenders.

“Essentially what we have is a dispense bar that’s set up like a kitchen… it’s a three man bar, two making drinks and one garnishing and getting drinks out. The two bartenders making drinks, that’s all they do… all the beers and wines get dispensed by the wait staff,” said Toubia.

While guests can order any type of cocktail they want, Magazin prides itself on its cocktail list, which features ten “obscure and strange but great” classic cocktails such as the Ward Eight and the Million Dollar Cocktail. 

Toubia has also crafted ten original cocktails that don’t carry a specific name, but instead a straight forward listing of all the ingredients. 

“They are all quite soft and relatively dry, none of them will put you off. We have a lot of people ordering them without having heard of them,” said Toubia. 

Apart from tasting good the cocktails are designed to look good too and feature stunning garnishes, many of them made using homemade jams, marmalades and confectionery. 

“It’s not smoke and mirrors, it’s not a gas or a foam… everything is made fresh, it’s very Willy Wonka-ish,” said Toubia.

“We are trying to flip things on their head… the bartenders trying to bring a kitchen element to the bar. It puts a story behind it, it’s very easy for us to talk about… not to sound like wankers but we are essentially a cocktail kitchen," said O'Sullivan.

Membership has a minimal cost and is only available through invitation, but members can bring as many guests as they wish. 

“Our youngest member is 24, our oldest member is 70. Anyone can come it’s just basically a ‘no dickhead’ policy,” said O’Sullivan.

Apart from carefully crafted cocktails, Magazin also serves up a good selection of beers and wines, with the beer list containing tasting notes for each of the brews and the wine list built around a range of wines from carefully selected wineries chosen by Lai.

“Half the reason behind this is everyone knows that a certain house’s red is good, but that particular house might also have a good white that you don’t see, because it’s famous for its red,” said O’Sullivan.

“Belinda took a lot of time finding those houses that have a good range.”

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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