The drinks in this 20s-inspired cocktail bar certainly have flare…

This time as we walk in, we see flames rising up from the bar followed by a trail of smoke and a hint of burnt pine. We’re very familiar with Wimborne’s Church Street by now. After travelling down it countless times to return to its Gin House, we finally had our Brand Ambassador John Bagnall host a takeover with £5 B&Ts. If you missed out, we have something better for you to order…

Church St. Gin House Brockmans Gin7443
(c) Tom Knight

Ash Barnett, the General Manager has (just in time) prepared what he calls ‘Max Gate’ (Brockmans, Quaglia Liquore al Pino Mugo, lemon, sugar and cranberry juice), inspired by the pine trees surrounding Max Gate, Thomas Hardy’s former home.

This hails from Church St Gin House’s menu dedicated to the famous writer. Each drink is inspired by six varying locations Hardy spent his time in, using either local ingredients (hence the pine) or themes from each location letting you journey through historic Dorset as you make your way through the menu. But for those looking to indulge in their classic favourites, there’s another menu just for you. As Ash puts it, “It’s recognisable classics that people feel comfortable ordering, knowing they will get a great version of something they love.” As much as we love our classic G&T, the earthy flavours paired with tart cranberries enhance our gin in a completely unique way.

Ash was part of the original Gin House team. Originally located on Westborough in Wimborne, its increasing popularity meant they outgrew the space quickly. Around the same time, Ash decided to put his formal education to use. He left to pursue a career in teaching but found himself hating it. He had started working as a young teenager as a pot washer in a steakhouse before being promoted to backbar at sixteen. Ever since then he worked in England’s grimiest student bars to high-end fancy cocktail lounges. It’s here where we felt most at home, where his skills were of most value, and so he returned to the Church St site.

“It has always had a place in my heart because I was there from the original idea to completion. Right now I’m able to express my ideas and have the creative freedom to make Church St the venue it can be. The best it can be.”

That means starting with the team. “We appreciate everyone for who they are here. Each member of our team brings their own flare and personality to the job. They’re not service robots.” As for the familiar arrogance seen in many cocktail bars, Ash doesn’t tolerate it. “No one should feel bad about ordering their favourite cocktail at risk of being judged.” He goes on to tell us how everyone enjoys helping guests decide which cocktail or gin is best suited for them based on their tastes and mood. We can affirm this statement as this isn’t our first Max Gate…

“We just want everyone to feel relaxed and have a great, personalised experience. You should be able to sit here and feel like everything is as it should be.” We couldn’t think of a better way to spend an evening…

1. Describe your bar in a few words.

Great decor, friendly and welcoming service, and some damn tasty beverages.

2. What’s the best thing you’ve overheard at your bar?

We get the hilarious “Do you sell gin?” Question a lot. It’s always met with a sarcastic laugh and an eye roll.

3. Why is gin so popular?

The distillation law change in 2009 I feel was the biggest factor, enabling people to make small batch craft gin. Also people love anything made locally.

4. What about Brockmans appeals to you?

It really bridges the gap between a London Dry and a fruity flavoured gin. It’s perfect for introducing people to gin.

5. If you could have one last drink before you died, what would you choose? 

I’d like to say a super cool bartendery drink like a Negroni or Old Fashioned but I’m a sucker for a Strongbow Dark Fruit.

Church St. Gin House Brockmans Gin7443
(c) Tom Knight

Max Gate

By Ashley Barnett

Ingredients

  • 25ml Brockmans
  • 25ml Quaglia Liquore al Pino Mugo
  • 20ml Lemon Juice
  • 15ml Sugar
  • 75ml Cranberry Juice

Method

  1. Pour all ingredients into a shaker with ice.
  2. Shake vigorously and double strain into a glass.
  3. Garnish with a sprig of pine.
  4. Set the pine in flames briefly for a smokey finish.

Visit Church St. Gin House at 9 Church Street, BH21 1JH Wimborne, Dorset, UK.