Bar, Sydney

Vasco. Go.

254864_366744006749117_2098921301_nSmall bars have been the making of Sydney’s nightlife in the past few years, as licensing limits have fallen and allowed those whose passion exceeds their bank accounts to get into the business for themselves.

Seeing curated concepts come to life is an utter joy, and nowhere is that more true than at Max Greco’s Vasco on Cleveland St in Surry Hills. The awesome rock’n’roll space is covered from top to bottom in ephemera, from the drum kit built over and around the bar, to the fender stools or the record on the roof. Max has always had one of the biggest personalities in Sydney bartending, and with Vasco the venue, experience and drinks positively radiate his essence. A few drinks in, you could be forgiven for thinking that you’re inside Max, in a totally platonic way of course.

The drinks are excellent, from fruity lady-killers laced with tequila, to my favourite listed drink in Sydney today, Coffee & Cigarettes. Greco’s World Class partner behind the bar, for now at least, came up with this incredible beverage, tying coffee infused gin with bitter amaro and oranges. The on-the-rock drink is everything i’m looking for in a glass.

The snacks too are epic, homestyle inspired italian favourites. The gorgonzola smothered polenta chips haunt my dreams, calling in their sweet siren song for my return.

Vasco is one year old today. Take a date, and Max’s shameless flirting will break the ice on even the most awkward of outings, take a client and get the cred for an out of the way gem, take your parents and they’ll love the vignettes to their youth and the boozy connection to your present.

Go tonight.

Vasco. 421 cleveland street surry hills nsw 2010 australia | map

 

 

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Bar, Cocktail, Sydney

By Hook or by Crook, get to the Rook.

There a plenty of good cocktail bars in Sydney these days, so you really have to work hard to do something different without affecting the quality of the product you’re putting up.

I’ll tell you one thing though, the team at the Rook are doing it right. Jason Williams and Cristiano Beretta have put together a list of cracking drinks with a playful streak.

Drink them in with your eyes below.

calligraphy cocktail

The Calligraphy Cocktail. Genever forward and served with a quill so you can personalise your drink. Yes, I drew a cock and balls on mine.

fear and loathingFear and Loathing. Mezcal, Cherries, Bats, Fuck. Garnished with a page torn from the novel folded into a paper plane.
Sloe Ringing Bell

Sloe Ringing Bell. Sloe Gin, Diamond Rye Belvedere, sugar, salt. A vodka drink for people who don’t order vodka drinks.
werewolvesWerewolves of London. A twist on the corpse reviver, and the phone message is classic. Fill a drink bottle with it when you leave.

There were others. They were excellent. I’ll add them when I remember what they were.

I may have gone home with a helium balloon tied to my shirt.

Go there and drink the whole list.

 

Now.

 

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Event, Sydney

2013 Bar Week Ahoy

barweekSeriously, where has this fucking year gone?

It seems like about two seconds ago when Dave Spanton was talking about the changes to Bar Week this year and the shift away from an exhibition to an events schedule to engage consumers and trade.

You’re already too late for the workshops on the trade side, but there is still action to be had at parties, plus the Bartender Magazine Awards, which will feature the finals integrated into the dinner itself, which should be a hecklers dream as the trade degenerates over the course of the evening. http://www.barweek.com.au/#!parties/c1o5o

For those of you who sit in front of bars instread of working behind them, there are a bunch of options. Champagne tasting with paired nibbles at the Roosevelt, Malts at Eau de Vie, The Man vs Food Nacho Chili Challenge at the Cleveland and Woodford Reserve 5 course cocktail pairing menu at O Bar Dining. http://www.barweek.com.au/#!consumer-events/c207j

Less than two weeks to Bar Week people. Get involved.

www.barweek.com.au

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Bar, Sydney

I review the most reviewed bar in Sydney right now

398057_487548354617067_1660761824_nThrough this rather nondescript and rather unadorned  doorway you’ll find a rickety staircase.

Climb two flights and you’ll enter a 50 odd square meter room where some of the best cocktails in Sydney, if not the world are served. The focus is on classic recipes, featuring seasonal local produce. The Wayward Lady that whet my lips laid mandarin, rum, lime & honey with a dash of Cynar across perhaps the most perfect balance. Taste snobs can roll the flavours across their tongues, marveling at the presence of each ingredient and the beautiful lingering finish. The less pompous would just stare, mouths agape, at the gorgeous, chilled stemware as the level of the delicious liquid drops to nothing with each tasty mouthful.

The six drinks change daily, so you’ll be presented with different choices when you step upon a stair and fight the crowds for one of four seats at the bar, or the handful of tables that crowd the room. My advice would be to pick any or all of them.

Some I’ve talked to seem to think the fit out doesn’t do justice to the hundred grand prize Tim Philips picked up at World Class last year, which is rather harsh given the swag was apparently 1,600 Edith Cowan’s short of that sum.  large cash and pouring prizes have only been introduced this year. The lighting’s low, the voices raised, a crate of whisky lurks stage-left for any wanting an education or something to tell their drinking buddies about. The back bar offers two stark shelves, more than making up in oddity what it lacks in variety.

The service proffered here is great. Adi Ruiz, Rob Sloane and Tim Philips have CV’s that read like a barfly’s wish list, and all share the glorious commonality of time served at the Black Pearl in Melbourne. Technicians behind the stick, their stars shine brighter still on the floor. Cocktail drinking as it should be; cracking liquid, cosy surrounds and people that make you feel right at home.

I might have been the last booze writer in Sydney to tick this one of my list, but if you haven’t found it (or heard about it) you should go.

Tonight, tomorrow night, every night.

I’m walking there right now.

On Google maps here and facebook here, in my mind forever. Well played lads, 263 out of 10.

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Bar, Melbourne, Sydney

Boom! A cocktail book you can get involved with.

541845_549492218424030_468301822_nSven and his band of merry men at Eau De Vie have made a start on something pretty special.

It’s a cocktail book, and instead of having it appear without fanfare on the market, they’ve decided to crowdfund the photography and production.

There are any number of packages/products and offers, although the 2.5k bar tabs with 10 signed books have understandably sold out already.

Get involved here. They’ve already met the target, so this is happening people!

 

 

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Awards, Event, Sydney

Win! Your chance for a free double pass to DrinksFest this weekend!

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the coming excellence that is Sydney Bar Week.

For the first time the experience is open to the general public on Sunday the 23rd, and Dave Spanton has been kind enough to offer 50 double passes to my readers (valued at $50).

It’s a great chance to experience some of the wonderful brands that are established or entering the market, there’ll also be a discounted store where you can buy a couple of bottles to take home.

The first 50 people to email Dave at david@spantonmedia.com with the ingredients that make up a Last Word cocktail will win, he’ll probably want your name and number too. You’ll need to be over 21, and have the photo ID to prove it to gain entry on the day.

Head over to barweek.com.au for more info on the day and the other great events that make up the week.

If you need some help answering the question, you can find the ingredients listed here.

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Awards, Spirit, Sydney

Dram it! Whisky will flow on the streets of Sydney.

You could be a lover of whisky, or just wanting to learn a little more about the Scottish spirit, or maybe you’ve realised that it takes more than a little of Obama’s tailoring style to pull off a convincing Don Draper.

Regardless of which bucket you sit in, the 2012 Whisky Show is the place to scratch the itch that a dram or to in your past delivers. 17 exhibitors, 150 whiskies, $50 gets you in and 10 tasting vouchers. Delicious.

For tickets and more info, I’d suggest a visit here.

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