Eileen's Bar - Four Pillars
Photography by Steven Woodburn
Words by Jane Ryan on 30-Jun-2020
410 Crown Street, Surry Hills, Sydney, NSW, 2010, Australia
Website: View bar's website
Hours: Mon-Tue Closed, Wed-Sat 17:00-00:00, Sun Closed
Style: Cocktail bar
Recommended for: Aperitivos, Cocktails, Food
Price guide: Middling
Owned by: Four Pillars
Branded bars are tricky to pull off, without a diverse enough catalogue the drinking can get monotonous, the branding can be too in your face and they often have the distinct feeling of a temporary pop-up rather than luxe drinking-out experience. But there are exceptions – and Four Pillars' gin mecca in Surry Hills is one to add to that list.
Here's why it works.
It's a very thoughtful, well-designed space, centred around a large bar (coloured juniper blue for good measure) that's minimal and focuses the attention on the bartenders and their cocktails. It's dimly-lit and warm, with plenty of natural materials at play – think wooden lamps, cork cladding and exposed brick. The neck of the copper and silver still in the next-door laboratory peaks through a window – you're so close to the source, creating a cellar-door vibe in the heart of the city. Guests can enjoy their experience more privately at a table with banquette seating or perch at the bar and observe the minimalistic design and speedy cocktail creation. Bar flies will love the attention to detail on the integrated glass rinser which has the brands name cut into the stainless steal. That and the bottles hanging above the bar are the only branding in the space – restraint in this element has worked wonders.
Cocktails read and taste original. They're balanced, full of nuanced flavour and play well with the brands range – from the Single Sherry Cask gin to the Bloody Shiraz or the Modern Australian gin – whilst also working with the latest in drinking trends. There's whey, verjus and Australian natives on the menu alongside a classic Negroni and, at the time of our visit, a Martini using the Sydney Winter Gin. Yes, the Sydney presence and gin lab means we're getting our own NSW gins from the Melbourne brand. Overall the menu feels at the cutting edge of cocktails, globally, yet has enough creature comforts peppered throughout that most drinkers would feel catered for – and if not there's always beer and wine.
Lastly it isn't such a serious place as all this might make it sound. The playlist is fun and upbeat and so is the food menu. Snack on childhood classics like party pies and toasted jaffles or, for the more finessed among us there's creamy taramusalata or cured meats. Most of the dishes have elements from the gin distillation incorporated into them, be it gin salt, or gin-washed or even smoked using pellets of spent gin botanicals.
It takes a lot of work to make a space pouring one brand look, taste and feel this inviting. So hats off to the Four Pillars team for this innovative addition to Sydney's scene.