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The Dispensary

An apothecary-themed bar floating on the harbour is the newest – and most ephemeral – addition to Sydney’s cultural life.

The Dispensary


October 7th, 2011

The Premise was one of the most exciting design competitions of recent months – a call-out by liquor brand Drambuie to conceptualise a temporary pop-up bar that would showcase its product in a creative new way.

The brief offered almost limitless design freedom, but the nature of the project required a quick turnaround and a concept that was effective but not overly complicated.

Last year’s winner, The Doghouse, turned a Darlinghurst rooftop into a prohibition era-style speakeasy, playing on the idea of secrecy.

This year’s Premise winner, built within just 12 days, is The Dispensary.


Inspired by Drambuie folklore – in which the drink is used as a medicinal elixir – the project is the brainchild of Matilda Swan and Simon Connett, who worked with designer Anna di Napoli-Long to realise the design.


The Dispensary fuses a modern aesthetic with an old-school apothecary vibe. “As the Drambuie story goes, Bonnie Prince Charles Stuart requested the Royal Apothecary to develop a mysterious elixir of expensive, rare and delicious herbs and spices to keep up his hopes and strengths during battle,” explains Connett of the inspiration behind the concept.

“The idea of creating a traditional apothecary, with a modern twist, evoked powerful design qualities for us.”


Potted herbs, mortar and pestles, medicine bottles, glass jars and medicine cabinets evoke an old-world dispensary. Leather antique furniture and recycled timber give a dark, worn look to the interior to create a sense of history and tradition.


Interestingly, the bar sits on the Harbour and is reached by water taxi, adding to the novelty and other-worldly effect that the interior creates.



The Dispensary is open from Thursday to Saturday between 6 and 22 October 2011.

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