Anyone who says that print is dead, who mourns the demise of local newspapers and magazines, should pay a visit to Gin & Juice on Park Street. Their menu is the size of a small newspaper and contains more than 400 gins across a dozen sections. Eat your heart out, G2.
The current edition of the menu leads with ‘March favourites’: 13 different gin from across the world, ranging from £7 to £20.80 for a 50ml measure – this latter option being Truffle Gin, based on white truffles from Alba.
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On the other pages there are the likes of ‘beginner’s gin’, ‘expert gin’, ‘cask aged and Japanese gin’, ‘pink gin’ and ‘weird and wonderful gin’. The most expensive gin I could find was Anty Gin, which costs £72 for a double measure poured from a bottle which contains “the essence of approximately 62 wood ants”.
Each gin come with a recommended tonic mixer, and not to be left out there is a page of Bristol gins with selections from Psychopomp, 6 O’Clock and Bristol Dry – including their 75 per cent proof Turbo Island.
It’s a big menu to peruse during the time when you haven’t got your camera phone out, because this is a bar that has been designed for the Instagram generation.
Every inch of the maze of rooms in this former high class pawnbrokers has something to catch a photographers’ eye for their grid. Even the ceilings are covered in framed photographs. Above my head on a recent Wednesday night were a disparate cast of characters including Cyndi Lauper, Joe Strummer and Bob Marley.
“This is just so Cheltenham,” said one Cheltonian-turned-Bristolian visiting for the first time, deftly catching a large ice cube that had fallen out of her goldfish bowl-size glass of gin. “I think I love it.”
Th founders behind Gin & Juice are Charlotte and Stephen Barker, and their sons, Kurtis and Kane Barker. The family already run three establishments in Cardiff, and this is their first opening in Bristol.
Some botanic gardens would be envious of the amount of greenery dripping from shelves and alcoves, columns would not look out of place in a replica Greek temple, tiles could fit into a Spanish hacienda and empty bottles of gin on each table hold flowers.
It’s as if the bar has been designed inside-out. “Is this real life?” to quote a YouTube video that has now been viewed almost 140m times, or are we now all within an Instagram-friendly filter with no filter required?
It doesn’t feel like real life in Gin & Juice. And maybe that’s the point.
You might not be able to escape influencers documenting their visit through camera phones, whether it’s the scrambled tofu on toast by day or the hundreds of gins on the huge menu by night.
But escape reality, escape the coronavirus, escape politics, escape Bristol even – because this is an insanely glorious fantasy wonderland.
Gin & Juice, 47 Park Street, Bristol, BS1 5NL
Main photo: Martin Booth