Banksii – named for Sir Joseph Banks, the first botanist to come to Australia, not the graffiti artist – has just opened on the soon-to-be-waterfront edge of Barangaroo. The soft gumtree inspired trunk colours – faded blues, dusky pinks and greys – are a nice departure for husband and wife team, Hamish Ingham and Rebecca Lines, whose Bar H restaurant tends towards dark, minimalist black.
I stuck my nose in on their second night of trade to find out more about this vermouth bar – the first one in Australia, no less. Using a combination of her own fabulous table service and thorough menu tasting notes, Rebecca is determined to show Sydneysiders that vermouth is the drink we never knew we wanted. To this end she has even devised a clever system of symbols to indicate how each of her forty odd vermouth selections scrub up best. We tried a Lustau Vermouth ($10) on the rocks. Based on two sherry wines (Pedro Ximenez and Amontillado) that were aged separately and then blended with more than ten botanicals, this red vermouth has the complexity of a cocktail, and could easily replace your end of night Old Fashioned. Expect some sweetness, a bit of nuttiness, and some citrussy orange peel.
In the kitchen, Hamish’s menu showcases botanicals in dishes like a seared snapper filled with wild fennel vinaigrette, fermented chilli and dandelion; or glazed roasted duck with red vermouth soaked native plums. Dishes are arranged into small and large share plates, but never fear, this experienced restaurant team have even printed how many dishes to order right on the menu, too.
Banskii has opened right in time for the inaugural global Vermouth Week running 7-11 November. If you'd like to get the jump on this new trend, book in quickly for their Vermouth Dinner ($150/head) on Wednesday 9 November. Guests will enjoy seven different courses with matching vermouth, including a broad bean, young pea and goat's cheese salad they reckon will convert the most staunch of meat eaters.
I’m rather looking forward to learning how to branch further beyond dry French vermouth (in my Martini) and sweeter, red Italian vermouth (in my Negroni) myself…
Banksii Vermouth Bar & Bistro
33 Barangaroo Avenue, Barangaroo South
Ph: (02) 8072 7037