At craft cocktail lounge Gutshot, poker is not just about luck or gambling but is instead a game of chance - just like how I stumbled across the bar on my first visit during a night out. The quirky name stands for a straight draw of cards 5, 6, 7, and 9 - and you are needing lucky number 8 to complete the hand.
The bar sits on the top of peel street, tucked away from the business of people drinking on the streets. It’s a hidden gem with one counter taking the space, sitting around ten people. The atmosphere is intimate and feels like you’re in a private room.
Debuting 13 cocktails, the majority of which being inspired by classic, traditional cocktails but are given a funky twist. Isolation ($148) is all about the pina colada. Strategically milk and fat-washed, the rum based cocktail is crystal-clear and fills your palate with tropical notes of pineapple, coconut, and topped with a citrus peel that isn’t overpowering.
I recommend trying the full ring ($148), with the cocktails name conveying more players to prey on during poker. It takes inspiration from a traditional Bloody Mary and replaces vodka with tequila. Tomato, yuzu and peppers are mixed into the cocktail giving it a savoury kick. Each aftertaste is a bit fizzy and topped with torched prosciutto and cherry tomatoes, nachos with cheese, and the tomato salsa which is also used in the cocktail.
Another well-balanced drink I enjoyed was the Yeziqi ($148) which is served in an exaggerated, extra long-stemmed martini glass. Yeziqi is a game that dates to the Tang dynasty and is the predecessor of poker. The cocktail takes its inspiration from Tanghulu or bingtang hulu, a traditional northern Chinese snack which consists of rock sugar-coated fruits on a bamboo skewer. The base contains dry salted plum rum, shaken with egg white which sets the pink cocktail. The top is sprinkled with sugar, followed by a garnished dehydrated raspberry chip.
For something boozy, I recommend trying the queens ($128). A pair of queens gives you an upper hand on jacks and others below even if kings and aces could bear you. The cocktail symbolises how close you are to tasting sweet victory! This full bodied cocktail is garnished with two chocolate covered donuts and smells of maple syrup and chocolate. This cocktail isn’t sweet itself but spirit forward, nutty and rich.
Gutshot might be a small space but its quiet and intimate versus the rowdy crowd that gathers on Peel during the evening. The cocktails are easy to drink and well balanced - addressing the large crowd who prefer low alcohol beverages to those who enjoy their liquor on the rocks.
This write-up is based on a complimentary media tasting provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed here represent the author’s.