The Keel: A micro venue which is passionate about reforesting the Daintree

Daintree Sydney by The Keel
106 George Street, The Rocks

Daintree is a new micro bar in Sydney’s iconic rocks that has opened with a mission, It’s a bar that cares. Opening in the downstairs area of The Keel, a rum-focused venue that set sail late last year from The Laidre group, Daintree is a small space with a significant goal, planting 1 million trees in the Daintree Forrest.

The reforestation of the Daintree is close to the company’s heart. They are donating 50% of the profits from the venue and making it easy for guests to directly donate more via QR codes on tables linking you to the Half Cut initiative. 

“Minimising and tracking our footprint on of the essential parts of sustainability. Even the excess water from the ice well is kept to water the plants after service,” Tom Bulmer, operator

Half Cut is an NFP with the mission to protect and rewild over 50% of rainforests. The bar in itself will be a dedicated charity to plant one million trees in the Australian rainforest. A visual representation of this is an 11-panel board artwork by local artist Felix Saw, currently outlined in black paint. It will be coloured and finished for every 100,000 trees planted for the Half Cut cause

Nestled in an original sandstone block sailors cottage behind the Overseas Passenger Terminal, Daintree Sydney opens onto the Cadman’s Cottage, the oldest residence in the City of Sydney and its private parklands next to the MCA, with a hidden entrance along the Cadman’s stairs.

Australian natives have been planted at the entry to beautify this forgotten area as well as the planting of a herb garden. The team plans to harvest their herbs and leaves for the drinks sustainably come spring. The venue can only seat five tables at any one time, has 4 bar stools and only takes bookings of 6-10. The venue is a mixture of heritage, recycled mango wood tables and Modern Australian art covered in native vines. It has a sense of place and removes you from the outside world. 

The original sandstone fireplace is laden with a mindfully orchestrated selection of Spirits, and an upcycled wicker shelf hosts wine & beer sourced from NSW. The team feels that when discussing sustainability, we must consider how far each bottle has travelled as an actual carbon cost. 

Spirits, Wine & Beer are all listed with the ‘distance travelled’ next to the price of the drinks. The only international brands you will see are those that have genuinely charitable & sustainable initiatives in mind. “Minimising and tracking our footprint on of the essential parts of sustainability. Even the excess water from the ice well is kept to water the plants after service,” adds Tom Bulmer, the well-known industry figure behind the venue.

A rotation of seasonal native ingredients is at the heart of each cocktail, with the abundance and sustainability of Australian local produce the focus of the cocktail menu itself.  Tasty cocktails such as Nut, a macadamia nut Pine Colada style beverage, is rich and luxurious. A Gumnut Negroni shines with Applewood Green Ant Gin at its base, and a Quandong Daquiri is zingy and refreshing. 

The food has a simple, sustainable focus. Cured fish, pickled bowls, mussels and local cheeses will be offered, as well as the option to order from a more extensive kitchen menu from The Keel upstairs. The all-female bar team lead by Siene Marie-Louise (ex-Spice Temple, The Margaret) in the building are taken on tours by local Aboriginal groups to learn about the region as it was originally inhabited. 

“Everyone that works for the group will need to learn about the native flora that used to grow on these lands and its traditional owners. This will be an important consideration as we work to reforest the Daintree on the lands on the Kukuk Yalanji people as well as now working on the ground the Gadigal lands within The Rocks” says Bulmer.