One of Bristol’s most historic buildings has been turned into a quirky, contemporary bar Dutch, selling 80 different types of gin. Jackie Annett reports
Bristol’s historic Old Market area has a new bar that is enjoying quite a lot of local publicity thanks to its huge selection of gins. The city’s first dedicated gin bar is the brainchild of owners Julia Speed and Alice de Haan, who between them both have lots of experience drinking and serving gin. “We both like gin,” laughs Julia, “so when Alice suggested setting up a gin bar in Bristol, I jumped at the chance. We met seven years ago working for Alice’s mobile bar company Wonder Bars, which provides bars for events and festivals.”
Although the festival scene was fun, the friends decided they wanted something static. So when the right venue came up in Bristol’s historic West Street, Julia and Alice weren’t afraid to get their hands dirty. “We’ve been refurbishing the venue ourselves with lots of help from our friends,” Julia says. “The tables were handcrafted by Phoebe Horn and Joe Hunter, and architect Catherine Haigh advised us to reposition the bar, opening up the interior and providing a focal point to catch customers’ eyes as soon as they walk through the door.”
Local designer Michelle Townsend was commissioned to create the eye-catching artwork that adorns the bright teal walls which provide the perfect backdrop to the striking copper-top bar constructed by Out of the Woodwork. Classic drop pendant lights from Cult Furniture and copper hanging baskets complement the finished look that is both classic and contemporary.
The food menu is made up of affordable tapas-style dishes and includes curried chickpea fritters with hot lime pickle and coconut yoghurt and gin-cured salmon gravlax with crème fraiche and lamb’s leaf. “People should be able to eat great food at reasonable prices,” says Julia. “Alice and I are both pescatarians so there is a focus towards vegetarian dishes, but we certainly haven’t alienated any meat eaters. Customers tell us they love the braised venison sausage with parsnip puree and sauerkraut.”
Cocktails include the Blood Orange & Elderflower, a mix of Hendrick’s gin, St-Germain elderflower liqueur, fresh blood orange juice and fresh lime juice topped with ginger ale. The pair hope to soon increase the range of 80 gins they currently serve to 350, and the bar also serves a varied selection of vodka, rum, whisky, brandy, tequila, wine and beer.
So why did they chose to name their first bar, Dutch? “We discussed quite a few options but we decided on Dutch because we both have Dutch heritage,” Julia says. “It also ties in nicely with the saying ‘Dutch courage’, which is thought to have come from drinking gin.”
Dutch, West Street, Bristol BS2 0DF
Tel: 0117 330 2905
Behind the scenes
Tables: Phoebe Horn and Joe Hunter
Upholstery: Bristol Upholstery Collective and
Ebony Rose Upholstery
Artist: Michelle Townsend
Copper top bar: Out of the Woodwork
Light fittings: Cult Furniture
Electrics: Business Electrical
First published in the May 2017 print edition of Bar magazine.