Bar, Sydney

Pocket Bar

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It’s time to leave Surry Hills and visit Darlinghurst. The coolest place in town no longer sits amongst the agencies and junkies. Happily you won’t have to tramp too far Sydney’s newest den of iniquity, walk north along Crown until you cross Oxford and the road falls down the hill into Darlinghurst (or the East Village, if you’re trying to be specific.) Right there on the corner of Burton St, you’ll find Pocket Bar.

It seems like everyone is writing about the fact the small bars are about to spring forth all over the city and we are about to enter a new era of drinking pleasure. Pocket is one of the first manifestations of this phenomenon, along with the Pond, Chingalings and Low 302, just a few steps back up the hill.

Pocket offers a gaggle of Frenchmen, assisted by a few great floor staff and an engaging and polite doorman (a real surprise for this city) I loved the cocktail list, where the Manhattan was listed with three base bourbons, at three price points encouraging a level of experimentation and education that has been ignored at most bars. The originals on the list make interesting reading as well, after a short perusal, I went for Cherry Aviations for the boys and the Rossini, which bears more than a passing resemblance to my Tokyo Strawberry Bellini.

The cherry Aviations were good, if a little sweet, but that’s the dominant French style, and since the Aviation is a bit of a personal favourite, I was always going to be looking for issues. The Bellini’s were quickly followed by a second round, and the Manhattan was bang on.

The walls are covered in graf styled illustrations. The place feels good, and the door policy keeps it full but not packed. The food looked great and I’ll be back to get amongst some crepes. Everyone in the place seemed to be drinking bottles of Tiger, which in a country with as good a beer selection as Australia seemed a little odd, but maybe its some hipster insider thing that I’m not privy too.

I liked it and I’m definitely going back.

Find pocket on Google maps here.

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Bar, Cocktail, Sydney

Low 302

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This cosy little gem hides out amongst the Gaslight and the back alley’s of little Oxford. An expected find on my nightly walk home and a talked about venue by all the people who’ve told me they’re in the know…

Low 302 is quite close to the cross of Oxford and Crown, on the Surry Hills side, evidenced by the clientele and their clinging black jeans. A smart, small space with a bar inside, six or so tables  and a piano to sit around, four tables out the front, one of which that will take 6-8 of your closest friends with ease.

The list is good, and the bottles behind the bar speak of a venue that is trying for something special. I kicked off proceedings with a Tequila Manhattan, Herradura and sweet vermouth, garnished with a delightful port soaked cherry. Smoky, dusty, rich all poured up into an elegant glass.

My crew turns up and we are seated outside, the smart design of the terrace makes the most of being outside, while keeping you out of the busy Crown St Friday night menagerie. Table service is provided, but for a venue with so few tables, it seems to take a while to get drinks back outside to us. I follow up with a Negroni, with almost everyone else hitting the Pimms and Ginger Ale, which comes looking a bit sad and missing the cornucopia of fruit and leaves that it will, at best, be festooned with. The Negroni is as it should be, perfectly diluted and marvelous; equal parts gin, vermouth, campari and effort.

Dinner plans interrupted further investigation of the list, but I can say without hesitation that I’ll be back.

302 Crown St, Darlinghurst
Drop them an email at info@low302.com.au or give them a bell on (02) 9368 1548

Google Maps here.

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Bar, Restaurant, Sydney

Toko

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Toko sets the bar for modern Japanese in Sydney, while its not the same as the food I’ve enjoyed in the land of the rising sun, it does a fantastic job of showcasing the fantastic seafood that is available here. 

There are no bookings taken here, apart from the large function room out the back that’s only really available to groups of 20 plus. Arrive early if you are looking to eat, especially on the weekend. The experience of being told there is a 2 hour wait isn’t perhaps the warmest way to first experience a restaurant but the fare is definitely worth the wait.

Toko, despite high prices seems completely unaffected by the recession, so expect a crowd to go with that wait.

All of this apparent negativity is tempered by the cocktails on offer. There is a plethora of handcrafted ingredients available behind the bar, from infusions of liquor, authentic japanese ingredients and sugars, not to mention a mammoth block of double frozen ice sitting on the countertop.

Standouts for me are the Old Fashioned and the Sazerac, both great examples of modern variations on the original, they capture the essence but offer something interesting, contemporary and tasty. This one’s also a contempo classic winner:

Ume Plum Crusta

Muddled Ume plums (a salty preserved Tokyo treat) with Hennessy VSOP, plum sake and lemon juice, served with a citrus sugar rim.

 

The longer drinks are great too, especially when temperatures in Sydney start to climb and the out door seating area really comes into play.

Yamazaki Mule

Red grapes muddled with quince paste & ginger sugar, shaken up with Glenfiddich 15yr old, poured long with ginger beer.

Tasty!

490 crown street

surry hills
nsw australia 2010

Google map here.

T: +61 2 9357 6100

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