The Bonded Store: P&O's Hidden Treasure
With an increasing number of Australians year on year choosing to embark on a cruise, it’s no wonder cruise companies need to ensure they're at the top of their game when it comes to food and beverage experiences. Onboard P&Os Pacific Explorer this is most definitely the case with its Bonded Store created in collaboration with Archie Rose Distilleries.
The hidden bar is tucked away in the corner of the ship and is accessed via a trap door disguised by a large portrait. Inside guests are treated to a lavish interior with quilted Chesterfield style lounges and an experience resembling a prohibition bar. While the many bars onboard the Pacific Explorer cater to all guests, whipping up cocktails such as Pina Coladas and other tropical favourites, the Bonded Store offers a more premium and on-trend selection for the refined palette, which has an appreciation for crafted cocktails prepared by the bar's mixologists. Hands down, the Bonded Store was my go to at any time it was acceptable to enjoy a cocktail…When you’re cruising, that’s anytime!
So apart from its stylish interior and on trend concept, what makes the Bonded Store so fantastic you ask? Here are three of my top reasons:
When I heard the team were called mixologists I did roll my eyes thinking this term is thrown around loosely - all we need are a few more hipsters who think they know it all. Boy, was I wrong! The mixologists running the bar during my cruise were deserving of the title. Their knowledge of spirits was incredible and they were passionate about their work. They always made me feel welcome – it was like having a good friend behind the bar. The team were always happy to have a chat, and nothing excited them more than getting creative with cocktails and sharing their knowledge with you. This is an experience on its own.
The Cocktail List
From the eye-catching signature smoked negroni’s to classic gin martini’s, there’s very little not to enjoy about the cocktail list at the Bonded Store. I worked my way through this list and each handcrafted cocktail was superb. I found myself drinking spirits I would normally avoid and developed a new found appreciation for them. Do yourself a favour and try the Elegance, featuring Archie Rose Original Vodka, peach liqueur, lychee, cucumber and fresh lemon. While this creation may sound sweet, it was nicely balanced and had a punch tartness to it. The Elegance was one of my favourites! Feeling adventurous? Get the team to surprise you. On my last day onboard I developed the sniffles (check out the photo), and my mixologist whipped me up a delicious creation which was his take on a hot toddy.
Gin Tasting Experience
Whether you’re a gin fan or consider yourself a connoisseur, the gin tasting session is a must. Guests are treated to a selection of international gins, learn to distinguish the botanicals in each, and of course what each should be paired with to create standout cocktails. There’s no skimping here; it’s premium gins all the way. Can you think of a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon with friends?
The only negative about the Bonded Store is that we don’t have one on land. It looks like I’ll be booking another cruise to enjoy this experience again very soon.