Strange Company 2019 Winner
“What makes a great bar?” is perhaps one of the most vexing open-ended questions of all time. As varied as bars can be – from dive bar to big hotel luxury bar – there are commonalities all good bars share, regardless of price point or customer base.
A winning bar, first and foremost, makes customers happy. A bar is not a restaurant. Customers come to drink, sometimes alone, and the bar tender is often thrown into the job of friend, psychologist, life coach and policeman.
A winning bar must get the drinks right. And that entails much more than simply pouring booze and looking hip while doing so. There’s the ice – a key ingredient. There’s the bitters and syrups and shrubs. Are they made in house? Are the cocktails – no matter how inventive and geeked out – good to drink, balanced, complex? If wine is part of the offer, how good is the list?
Strange Company answers “yes” to all those questions. And it looks good too. Assistant bar manager and cocktail creator, Elise Godwin, runs a very flavourful ship. Her cocktails are often brilliant and inventive and damn good to drink.
Strange Company has always been good, but 2019 was its year. It burst through the pack in final judging, on the back of a seriously improved and exciting cocktail program, a much-improved food offering and a refreshed application to the curation of its wine and cocktail menus.
It has loosened up a bit too, over the past year, maturing into a fun, easy-going venue with great attention paid to flavour-forward mixed drinks. All that, and it is a seriously cool bar with one of the most welcoming interiors in town and a clever, chatty crew making the drinks.