The Bolt Hole is a unique new Byron Bay bar and restaurant that has just opened near the Byron Surf Club, at the beach end of Fletcher Street. Fitted out with green Chesterfields, a six-metre tarnished-copper bar, reclaimed materials and its own imported wood-fired barbecue smoker, it’s the first bar in Australia to serve tinnies exclusively.
Yes, that’s right, no beer taps impinging upon the aesthetics of the bar and no bottles.
This is the sort of place with 40 different gins on offer, a huge range of 69 whiskies and other ‘artisanal spirits’. If you fancy a vintage gin from the 1960s, this is the place to go. So, as you can imagine, the beer options for tinnie drinkers are not restricted to ‘green can versus yellow can’; craft beers such as Newtown’s Young Henrys and Melbourne’s Mountain Goat are served alongside craft beers in cans from throughout the world.
The bar has been created by Chris Mills (‘Millsy’), creator of multi-award-winning Sydney bar The Barber Shop (yes, right again; a traditional barber shop combined with a cocktail bar). It has a slightly American vintage theme with references to hunting, steam trains and nautical escapades (the logo features an octopus with a monocle and a moustache).
But Chris didn’t come to Byron with the idea of creating a bar. A yoga practitioner for the last nine years, he moved to Byron a year ago with a yoga studio in mind; however, those plans were derailed by the birth of a child. ‘Byron’s such a great place to raise a child,’ said Chris, who was also conscious of previous businesses at the Bolt Hole’s location. ‘We cleared the previous energy in the building and set our intentions for the future in a blessing ceremony, while drinking cacao and chili to open our hearts.’
The recycled timbers have come from the backpackers across the road, and an old surf shop, which brings us to the eco-friendliness of tinnies.
‘Bottles have six times the carbon footprint of a can, when you consider volume, weight, production and transport – all those things add up,’ says Millsy. ‘We can fit 100 cartons of tinnies on a standard palette, versus 65 cartons of 330ml bottles, so it takes a lot less fuel to transport them.’ Aluminium is lighter than glass, while a can’s tidy shape means more efficient packing and stacking, and Millsy says the beer’s flavour profile is maintained by the can, which withstands UV light.
The produce at The Bolt Hole is 100 per cent organic and sourced locally where possible, but the inspiration for the menu is American barbecue. Pitmaster (that means skilled barbecue chef) Jordan Brannon, former sous chef at Bondi’s Panama House, is serving up Angus Beef Brisket, Smoked Berkshire Pork (it’s smoked low and slow for 24 hours), Smoked Sticky Salmon $24, half a Hickory-Smoked Chicken $24, Applew-Smoked Pork Spare Ribs $30 and has his own signature Bolt Hole Burger $24.
While he’s waiting six or eight or even 24 hours for the meat to cook, pitmaster Jordan spares a thought for the pescatarians (think Crispy Cuttlefish and King Shrimp) and even vegetarians, who can sample Spiced Black Bean Burgers or various corn, potato and salad creations such as Southern-Style Hush Puppies (cornmeal balls).
Bar manager Beau Lynch has also been locally sourced (he’s originally from Byron Bay), but has been working overseas. He’s recently imported his Canadian girlfriend, but is now looking forward to experimenting with the local seasonal produce in the noble pursuit of excellent cocktails to sip while enjoying the views.
Through the open panoramic windows you can see breathtaking sunsets and the Byron hinterland from the Bolt Hole’s second-storey location; it’s worth a look.
9 Fletcher St, Byron Bay Ph 6685 8410. Open Mon–Sat 4pm–midnight and Sun 4–11pm