Bar, Industry News

You could not have it more wrong.

George Souris, Minister in the O’Farrell Government here in Sydney, has come out swinging at the small bars in the wake of the bashing death in the Cross last week.

I don’t think he could have it more wrong. Sydney’s small bars are fostering a new drinking culture in the city, but I think that anyone who has experienced it would attest that it as extremely positive one.

I don’t normally get into politics here, but any attempt to pin negativity on the great bar culture growing up in this town should be something that anyone that like a good drink, and therefore anyone that reads this blog, should really care about.

Obviously he’d rather be working with big hotels, as evidenced by the chap he appointed to an open position on the Casino, Liquor and Gaming Control Authority, last year. Brian Ross was heading the Hotels Association (a lobbying group that advocates for large venue owners) before taking up a vacant spot on the CLAGCA that was open for a legal representative.

It’s all quite strange really.

Maybe Mr Souris should stop hanging out in the pokie parlours, head to one of the great small bars that are dotted right across Sydney and try a decent drink for once.

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Bar, Sydney

The Roosevelt

When Sven Almenning launched the 1930’s style speakeasy in the troubled back space of the Kirketon Hotel on Darlinghurst Rd, I’m sure a lot of folk thought it, like it’s predecessors, would not be long on the Sydney scene. Instead, Eau de Vie set a new standard in cocktail bartending and service in Sydney and for the Australian continent as well. You no longer even have to trust the jaded hacks and bar bloggers like me, with an award from Tales of the Cocktail (the world’s leading cocktail and spirit event, if you didn’t know) as the best new cocktail bar on the planet and an outpost in the spiritual home of Australian drinking quality, Melbourne.

The best news yet? Team Eau de Vie is at it again.

The last ten days has seen the doors swing open on The Roosevelt, a welcome addition to the small but well formed drinking scene round the corner from the Cross in Potts Point.

Where the original venue was entrenched in the 1930’s, this new iteration references the 1940’s. It was a decade when women kicked off their shoes to host American troops, while their own men were fight for freedom abroad. It was the decade that marked the first racing of the Sydney to Hobart. It was a decade where Don Bradman scored his 100th century playing the Indians. Crime figures prospered from the moneyed up Yanks and the celebrations as a country found its feet and slaked its thirst again.

The venue takes its name from the flagship nightclub of Kings Cross Personality, Abe Saffron. The interiors reference Hollywood glamour more than Sydney’s history, with glass cabinetry showcasing the impressive collection of shakers and equipment that Sven has collected over the years.

The drinks list is small but perfectly formed. The style builds on the “cocktails you can’t make at home” ethic of the original Eau de Vie, with the delivery spec being taken up even more notches. Try the Roosevelt Refashioned‘s, smart tweaks on the trusted classic. #2 rests on a midori-esque mint ball that stretches and complements the bourbon and creme de peche wonderfully. Share Al Capone’s smugglers crate, which arrives at the table in, well, a crate. Smoke it up with a Dead End, served in a stunning art deco flask. Throw caution to the wind with a Nitro Colada or one of the other pearls from the roaming nitro trolley (pictured above)

Don’t fall in love with the cut crystal decanters that house almost every spirit in the place though, Amber Almenning is pretty sure her husband has bought every piece of available stock in the lucky country, but it does make stading at the bar that little bit more pleasurable. (Interestingly though, this is very much a lounge, the bar is a service area, sans stools, and the real action happens seated in the cosy booths.)

All that hopefully should convince you to go and immerse yourself in some of the city’s best drinking. The most well travelled amongst you will know a bar is defined by its concept only if the people that work there are up to the task. Happy days then, that Barry Chalmers, the charming (heh) Caledonian host who helped with the establishment of Eau de Vie and bedded down a strict but entirely worthwhile adherence to a spec which calls for nothing less than perfection. It’s great to have him back.

The hidden gem of The Roosevelt is through the door and out the back. Twin islands dominate a room established purely for the sport of cocktalian degustation. Accomodating 15 guest a piece, these tables will deliver on an idea that has been much vaunted around the world and only very rarely pulled off. Given the success this team has had at Eau de Vie and now in Melbourne, if anyone can it will be this lot.

Tickets will set you back $150 for five cocktails paired with five courses. I’ve seen other writing about the fact you’ll need to put a card up and pay in advance. While the practice is sure to raise some eyebrows, it should help ensure that the idea manages to make it from a good concept into a going concern.

If the food I tasted out the front, the standard and innovation involved will be something very special to behold. I understand that tonight is the first night it will be open to the public but you can call Barry on 0422 263 226 or email him on barry@theroosevelt.com.au to find out for yourself.

Absolutely the must try venue of 2012.

32 Orwell Street, Potts Point, Australia 2011

http://www.theroosevelt.com.au

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Bar

Hinky Dinks

A good time has a new home in Darlinghurst.

Hinky Dinks has transformed a tired cafe premisies, a stone’s throw from the famous Coke sign, into a comfortable cocktail lounge with a kitchen attached.

The cocktail list is great proof that straight classics aren’t the only way to showcase spirits and deliver a fine drink to the hands of Sydney punters. Many of the drinks are from the mind and palate of Jeremy Shipley, of Longrain and Bacardi Ambassadorial fame, plus he’s my cousin to boot. Expect delicious concoctions, punches and libations. The tall rummy number I tried last night was superb, fruit and berries giving way to a rich rummy finish. I’ll be back next week to try some more and take some photos too.

Food from the kitchen is packed full of flavour and without pretence, moreish toasted sandwiches, positively explosive bruschetta and plenty more deliciousness morsels are sure to turn more than a few visits from a quick drink into an extended session.

Seating is limited, so arrive early and stay late. A curvy booth area in the front offers a ringside seat to the colour of the cross, three tables on a chequered diner floor share space with a perfectly formed bar and a big service window into the kitchen. The overall feel references the fifties feel of milkbar and movies, while still feeling new in its Sydney execution.

It seems as though there might be a new triangle of tremendousness forming, one that could rival or even eclipse the Crown Burton epicentre of a good time in a small bar. Stalwarts like Eau de Vie and Victoria Room have led the way, bars like Hinky Dinks and Barrio Chino have shown there is still plenty of scope for growth.

Exciting times people, get amongst.

185 Darlinghurst Rd
(02) 8084 6379

On Google Maps, here.

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Awards, Bar, Sydney

I was drinking at the best new cocktail bar in the world on Friday night, where the hell were you?

Great news for the Australian small bar movement overnight, with leading light Eau de Vie snatching the honours at Tales of the Cocktail in Nawlins. This is an absolute testament to the house that Sven Almenning has built, and the quality of the talent producing drinks behind the stick there.

Sipping on a blue genever maitai with wintergreen essence on Friday night, the innovation, cheek and service were all in full display. This is a bar that revels in delivering world leading drinks in a way that stands out.

If you haven’t been, now would be the time. If you have been, at least you can say you knew about it before it was world famous.

Hearty congratulations for an amazing result.

Press release follows…

Eau-de-Vie was last night named as the World’s Best New Cocktail Bar at the Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards.
The awards are held annually in New Orleans, and are internationally recognised as the industry’s biggest and most influential awards worldwide.

The Darlinghurst small bar was amongst stiff competition, with only New York City venues as other nominees:

World’s Best New Cocktail Bar

●      1534, New
York City, New York

●      Dram, New
York City, New York

●      Eau de Vie,
Sydney, Australia

●     The bar formerly known as (Painkiller),
New York City, New York

Sven Almenning, owner of Eau de Vie said ‘It’s a huge honour to be recognised on a global level like this, and the team and I are overwhelmed with the response we’ve had to Eau-de-Vie. We set out to create a small cocktail bar where quality of drinks and service are king… I hope that we’re helping to drive trends on a global level rather than just following whatever’s happening in London and the U.S which have typically been seen as the leaders in our industry.’

Apart from World’s Best New Cocktail Bar, Eau-de-Vie was also nominated for two other awards including:

World’s Best Cocktail Menu

●      Artesian at
The Langham, London, England

●      Eau de Vie,
Sydney, Australia

●      Mayahuel, New
York City, New York

●      Sanctuaria,
St. Louis, Missouri

 

World’s Best Drinks Selection

●      Artesian at
The Langham, London, England

●      Cure, New
Orleans, Louisiana

●      Eau de Vie,
Sydney, Australia

●      Employees
Only, New York City, New York

The awards and nominations are affirmation of what Eau-de-Vie prides itself on. With an extensive and intricately designed cocktail list, and an all-star team (which is fronted by Luke Redington), Eau-de-Vie is thrilled to have been recognised with such gusto in its first year and a half of operation, since January 2010.

On top of this news, the team is excited to announce that Eau-de-Vie Melbourne is opening soon. Come October, Eau-de-Vie will be venturing south with a new venue opening under the supervision of industry heavyweight Greg Sanderson. Having been in behind the bar for over 12 years and coming from Melbourne establishment Black Pearl and prior to that Mur Mur, Sanderson will take over the new venue in Melbourne CBD.

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Bar, Restaurant, Sydney

Barrio Chino

Off the back of his Outstanding achievement award at the 2010 Australian Bar Awards, an appearance alongside Martha Stewart and the success at The Dutch in NYC, Startender Naren Young is back in Sydney for ten days only.

Bedding down the beverage program at Barrio Chino, and tapping Tecates for a few friends, he has shrugged off the time difference and looks 100% at home.

Barrio Chino is a new Mexican paradise, tucked down Bayswater Rd.

The food was getting great raps from everyone who’s eaten there. The type of fresh Mexican flavours that are such a rarity here. Naren has spent these last many years involved in the setting up of what the Amercians like to call beverage programs. Essentially, what gets delivered is a restaurant and bar that exist side by side. The bar is good enough it could thrive on its own, so is the restaurant. Paired together, they are a potent force.

I will be back to try the food directly, but the bar is great on its own. A real showcase of agave and its many facets.

There are masterful touches everywhere.

On the back bar there are some rarites, curiousities and even a couple of legends.

The list offers a handful of choices. Jar shaken pitchers of Tommy’s, balance perfect, perhaps the shareable first round available in the country.

The breakfast margarita picks up all the sweet zesty goodness that marmalade has to offer, but with the addition of an earthy agave heart that will leave you wondering why you’ve made this drink when any other spirit. The options offer a range of texture and formats. Long, short, touched with seductive smoky hint of mezcal. All singing, all dancing, all agave.

I would challenge any person who doesn’t like tequila to not find a drink that becomes their favourite.

The bar also signature serves Tecate, complete with gingery salt encrusted limes. Squeeze the juice into your can and knock it back.

Get into it.

Barrio Chino

28-30 Bayswater Rd, Kings Cross

ph. 8021 9750

On Google maps here.

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Bar, Sydney

Gardel’s. Upstairs at Porteño

The secret of Sydney’s Argentinian altar of meats is already well known about town. Porteño has achieved this feat by roasting entire lambs over an open pit of coals, staffing its floor with characters from a fifties sock hop and generally delivering a slice of Buenos Aires magic to any and all lucky enough to grace its doors.

Less well known was the cocktail bar, replete with an elegant lounge, upstairs on the second floor. Bars that are a part of a restaurant often struggle to attain recognition and a personality of their own. The team at Porteño have decided to give their upstairs offering a separate identity, rebranding the space Gardel’s Bar, after Carlos Gardel, the Argentine tango legend.

Sometimes a split like this drives a wedge between the offerings, severing the link and allowing two very separate offerings to develop. The boys at Gardel’s do not seem in any danger of letting this happen. The number of bars in this town who make the most of having access to cooks and the kitchen seems few and far between. The Americans call this approach “The Beverage Program” and perhaps that’s something their Canadian talent behind the bar has bought with him from North America.

The smoker, used for kingfish and the some of the meat offering no doubt, has been put to great use smoking vermouth and maple syrup. Test out the result in the frankly wonderful Thank you for smoking. A good measure of spicy Buffalo Trace bourbon, coaxed gently with smoked vermouth and syrup, and a dash or two of the Bitter Truth’s Xocolatl Mole Bitters. I had goosebumps on finishing it and I can’t wait to go back, drop the maple syrup and maybe some of the achingly perfect balance to deliver a booze forward version I imagine will put the Man very much in a Manhattan. The Smoked Adonis also gives a taste of the teams smoky goodness, albiet in a more apertif style. The almond side garnish is a nice touch too.

The proximity to the kitchen delivers some of the best bar food available in the country. I dare you to stop at one chili dog.

For the first time in quite a while, there is a bit of competition in my heart and on my palate for what I would call my favourite bar in Sydney. I’ll be back again soon.

358 Cleveland Street, Surry Hills NSW 2010

(02) 8399 1440

On Google Maps here.

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