It has to be said. I have a new favourite bar in Sydney. It has no view, it is in the back of a boutique hotel, it delivers one of the best service experiences I’ve had anywhere, ever. It’s name is Eau de Vie.
Tom Bullock in his 1918 book, The Ideal Bartender, put it very simply:
“It is proper, when a person steps up to the bar, for a bartender to set before him a glass of ice water, and, then, in a courteous manner, find out what he may desire”
Under these terms, this is very much a proper bar.
On my arrival I sat at the bar, was greeted but a solid tumbler of clean, icy water and asked for my choice. Possessing a strong love of cocktails as I do, I read the list and and accepted the barkeeps recommendation of the Crusta as an appropriate start to an evenings experimentation. The drink is typical of Eau de Vie, exceptionally well made, perfectly balanced, nodding to the classics but with its own, modern twist. The Crusta swapped Havana Club Rum for the more traditional brandy, with muddled pineapple as well.
Once you’ve made a start, the list offers much to keep you interested. The Countessa, a re imagined Negroni with Aperol, served up in an exquisite coupe, on the side a half time slice of orange, dusted with Campari powder and caramelized with a blowtorch behind the bar. The Hendricks Tea Party pairs the uniquely unusual taste of Hendricks gin with black tea and juices, served in the teacup martinis the brand has made famous and mixed in a large teapot, it’s a great drink for a crew of people to share and can be made accordingly. Magarita Con Palomitas, a well made margarita finished with a popcorn salt is a standout to those of you with a penchant for Mexico’s very own spirit. The Dark’n'Stormy is world class. Homemade ginger beer lifts the drink from a rum lovers’ standard to an exceptional zinging experience. Thanks to @MyffyRigby for the heads up.
While there were other drinks enjoyed at my table, I wasn’t lucky enough to get a taste. Frankly, I’m glad of the opportunity to go back. The Scotch Sazerac will be high on my list when i do too…
A couple of other reasons to get yourself along to the bar. A collection of shakers belonging to the proprietor, Sven Almenning, including the skyscraper and a great glass woman’s foot. The back bar is unreal, 24 tequilas and plenty of stuff I’ve not seen the likes of, plus a healthy collection of syrups, beakers, pipettes and equipment.
Trumping the drinks, the venue and the menagerie of bar equipment is Barry. Quite simply the best leader of a bar I’ve encountered. Flitting around the bar, talking serious drinks, arranging dinner reservations at restaurants that don’t take them and generally making sure everyone has an experience to be proud of.
I have no reservation in saying you need to visit this bar, ask for Barry. He’ll look after you.
And their website is here. It’s not the world’s most impressive piece of digital technology, but the money really was better spent on glassware and Barry…