In the neighbourhood: Apollo Inn

Opening its doors in June, Apollo Inn is a new small cocktail bar from the team behind Gimlet. Gimlet has quickly become one of those places that feels like it has always been a part of Melbourne’s fabric, yet is impressively only a few years young.

When we were approached by the Apollo Inn team to help celebrate the opening of their new venue, there was no hesitation. With partnerships, our focus has always been to work alongside those we admire and that embrace a similar ethos to our own. Gimlet is renowned for its incredible level of hospitality and this was an opportunity to produce an equally refined whiskey.

We respect that Apollo Inn Bar Manager Cameron Parish has taken the same high end quality Gimlet are known for and embodied it into Apollo Inn. He has curated a cocktail menu that manages to showcase the craft of classic cocktails and honour base spirits but in a modern and refined way. Alongside The Gospel Co-Founder Ben Bowles, Cam carefully selected a single cask high wheat rye whiskey that aligned to this philosophy. This is the first time we have collaborated with a venue and we feel this partnership is a special ode to Melbourne.

As part of our High Wheat release, we had a conversation with Cam to find out about his journey to where he is today and why the hospitality community is so important to him. Check the interview below and go see him and the team at Apollo Inn in Melbourne’s CBD. 


Apollo Inn and Gimlet Melbourne Bar Manager Cameron ParishApollo Inn Bar Manager Cameron Parish // PHOTO: Jo McGann

-- Where did your passion for cocktails begin?
My life in hospitality started when I was living in Manchester, England playing professional football and studying physiotherapy. Like most students, I wanted a little extra cash so I started working part-time as a barback at a cool little bar in the Northern Quarter. It was busy, they featured some of the best up and coming DJs. The cocktails weren’t anything special but the vibe there was like nothing I had ever experienced before. Over time, I started to pick up more shifts and my social life really started to take off. I began skipping Uni to work from time to time. I was always at a bar and the idea of turning this lifestyle into a career really started to appeal to me. I dropped out of Uni and started working full-time.

A few years down the track I moved back to Sydney (which is where I am from). I somehow managed to get a job at Bulletin Place. This was where my real passion for cocktails began. I mean, how could it not? I was surrounded by some of the best people in the industry. From there, my partner and I decided to move to Melbourne where I spent a good chunk of my career working at The Everleigh, a bar that still to this day is very special to me.

-- How did your path lead to becoming a Bar Manager?
Becoming Bar Manager is a natural progression for most bartenders, and it’s really the last step before you look towards having your own venue. I put off managing for as long as possible, staying in service. No one lives to be a Bar Manager - our passion is working with people, being creative and working within a team. There are certain things you need to know to own your own venue and that’s what being a Bar Manager teaches you. To some extent as well, looking back, I feel like I’ve always been a natural leader. When I played football, I took to that very instinctually.

-- Gimlet was a bit of a COVID baby. What was it like opening during that period?
Gimlet opened right in the middle of the pandemic in 2020. Like most openings, they can really creep up on you no matter how organised you are! While the lockdowns were obviously frustrating, on a positive note they gave us the luxury of time and allowed me to get stuck into developing and testing cocktails, building the cocktail list and refining our back of house systems. During that time, regular conversations and ideating concepts with Andrew was invaluable and the focused, collaborative conversations with our bar team really allowed us to define what we all wanted for the drinks programme to be. Our interpretation of our signature Gimlet was refined too – three months of R&D to get it to where we wanted it to be… and now we make over a thousand a week.

-- What has been your favourite memory of your time with Gimlet?
It’s the most challenging thing I’ve ever had the opportunity to do. There have been so many highs and lows but it’s been so worth doing, the sense of accomplishment has been huge. No one knew what it was going to be like and being part of shaping such an institution has been amazing.

-- What has it been like for you transitioning from Gimlet to help launch Apollo Inn?
The transition has been challenging in the sense that you have to be across two venues, your focus is naturally split, but it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. Apollo is closer to what I’ve been doing my whole bar life and comes much more naturally - it’s so intimate, drinks and people focussed. It’s been nice to get back to that. I will say, I’m not used to the late nights again! They’ve been a shock, but it’s what I love doing.

-- Apollo Inn has a phenomenal cocktail menu. Where did the inspiration for the creativity behind each drink come from?
There’s an overall ethos driving the cocktail menu. It’s about combining where I’ve been in the past - using the best fresh produce like we did at Bulletin Place and combining that with the trade I learnt at The Everleigh. It’s about really classic drinks with the freshest produce, reinvented in my own way. Each individual cocktail on the menu has a brilliant story behind it but that throughline unites everything.

Apollo Inn is the new sister bar launched in June 2023 by the Gimlet Melbourne teamApollo Inn cocktail bar in Melbourne’s CBD // PHOTO: Earl Carter

-- Which part of the hospitality industry do you enjoy the most?
Team environment. Working with my friends and building relationships that you’ll have for the rest of your life.

I love the atmosphere of the bar industry. It can be a place full of friends and family, all with a drink in their hand, having a good old time. I work with my friends and am lucky enough to build relationships that will last a lifetime.

-- What excites you about Melbourne's hospitality community?
It seems that Sydney has been vibe-ing for the last little while and Melbourne has lost its way for a bit. But I definitely feel the excitement of seeing better places popping up, we’re building a community with shared respect. The CBD is building back up, Apollo is just one part of that.

-- Where is your favourite place to go to?
It changes all the time, it always has. At the moment, for a casual drink you’ll find me at Caretaker’s Cottage, for a cocktail at Above Board, and when I need to be inspired at Byrdi.

-- Is there anything else besides cocktails you are fanatical about
Manchester United!

MAIN IMAGE: Apollo Inn // PHOTO: Earl Carter

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