There’s nothing like a hearty slug of irony, but it takes more front than the Gold Coast to name your cocktail lounge after evangelical preacher and staunch Prohibitionist Billy Sunday, but that’s precisely what Matthias Merges did, exchanging wry comment for rye whiskey, and upping the bar (ahem) for the city’s already notable mixological menus. With the Chef of the Year gong for his restaurant Yusho still warm from the influential 2013 Jean Banchet Awards, and Billy Sunday already named by Details magazine as one of America’s best new bars, Merges is riding high on a tide of approbation and chutzpah.
And who can blame him. With a neat button-back banquette and nostalgia-led fitout, alongside a decidedly toothsome short-stack menu comprising vinegared crispy pig’s ears with cornichon aioli, and chicken liver with curried raisin mostarda, the stage is set for the main event – cocktails. Maestro Alex Bachman more than delights with a handsome edit of newbies and classics redux employing housemade bitters and tonics, like the Hoar’s Frost with London Dry gin, orange Curaçao, lemon, London Dock rum, grenadine, and Son of the Crusta melding armagnac, Palo Cortado, Kina Bianco, Welsh Nectar, lemon and Abbott’s Bitters. Billy, here’s mud in your eye!