These days, we could arguably do without post offices, but most would agree that gin is absolutely indispensable. Luckily then, Sherwood now has its very own gin bar, residing in the former post office on Mansfield Road.
The Pillar Box is no gimcrack gin joint – the small room tastefully decked out with locally-sourced antiques and art, with long red curtains framing the small bar to give a feel as theatrical as genial director Karl Routledge’s magnificent tache.
Taking centre stage is the gin, the bar shelf creaking under the weight of some 100 varieties (and counting) sourced everywhere from Nottingham to Japan to Mombasa, as well as their own Penny Black gin distilled with Portobello Road. The cocktail menu is a neat mix of a dozen house specialities, and a dozen Eccentric Classics. As we were in for a long performance, the friendly barmen very kindly offered to mix up miniature versions of some of their favourites and best sellers.
We started off with a few fruity numbers (all £6.95 each): the Mile High Club combined gin with orchid syrup, maraschino cherry and lemon, and was finished with egg white for something smooth, sweet and a little saucy; the It’s a Ginting – gin, grapefruit and watermelon topped up with Ting soda – had a big tropical, sherbert-y hit that made yer tabs laugh; the Cocoloco Daiquiri mixed gin with Koko Kanu coconut liqueur, coconut puree, lychee and lime for a sophisticated-yet-cheeky take on a pina colada.
Next up, a few classics. Their gin bramble, with basil and rose syrup replacing the usual blackberry, was very well balanced and not as overly floral or herby as it could have potentially been, and the Elder Collins (with elderflower and cucumber) was a very refreshing long drink.
A negroni with warming bitters and orange went down a treat, and that beloved tipple of secret agents and bar staff, the martini (£7.95), was also expertly mixed using Hayman’s Family Reserve gin (the house gin is Portobello Road) giving an extra subtle touch of woody whisky-barrel aroma, and served dry with a twist of lemon. Class.
And that’s really the watchword with the Pillar Box. There are no novelties like temporary tattoos, half pound bags of pic’n’mix or big yellow sharps boxes – just great, sophisticated drinks done with flair by a bar staff with over 100 years’ experience between them.
It’s not all about cocktails either, with a full menu boasting interesting beers, soft and hot drinks, as well as a small food selection of crepes, cheese and meat boards (including exclusives from Johnny Pusztai at JT Beedham’s butchers), homemade cakes and afternoon high teas. Even more excuse to drop in after a hard (or not so hard) day’s work. Shariff Ibrahim
566 Mansfield Road, NG5 2FS. 0115 841 0489.
The Pillar Box on Facebook