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 to find out for yourself.

Absolutely the must try venue of 2012.

32 Orwell Street, Potts Point, Australia 2011


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.

Bar, Sydney


Goldfish was a bar I always used to walk past, but never went in. Positioned at the intersection of Victoria, Bayswater and Darlinghurst Rd, the Goldfish was always on the way, but never my destination. After meeting Noriel at Cocktail World Cup, I decided it was time to give it a go.

A large island bar dominates the room, but you can break with tradition and pull up a barstool without too many raised eyebrows. 6pm on a Friday is obviously not the boom time for this bar, but a steady stream of people came through the doors, ordering beers, wines and the occasional Mai Tai. A smart cage keeps the smokers in the bar, while keeping the Cross out.

I tried the Tuxedo and a cocktail whipped me up featuring Chivas 18 to match the cherries, which are worth a visit on their own. A Diffordesque secret recipe made them taste even better.

The 49% off between 6-8 everyday bar Saturday would be a smart destination for any punter. Also with the loss of the Bayswater, Goldfish might be the best drink in the Cross proper, sadly.

I should have tried here earlier and I’ll definitely be back.

111 Darlinghurst Rd, Potts Point NSW 2011‎ – (02) 8354 6666‎

On Google Maps here.

Bar, Sydney

Eau de Vie

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.

Google Map here.

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…

Bar, Beer, Sydney

The Sugarmill

sugarmill_extTucked under Kit & Kaboodle sits what I’m guessing is seen by many as the future. A well designed beer bar with ample outdoor seating in Sydney’s best known burb.

The bar runs right along the back wall, its easy and fast to get a beer, even when the numbers are getting up. Grab a couple of Fat Yaks and head outside to sit in the warm glow of gas heating, watching the junkies, ladies and street life.

The pizzas look pretty good too.

33-37 Darlinghurst Rd, Kings Cross 2011

02 9368 7333

Google Maps here.

Bar, Sydney

Kit & Kaboodle

Kit & Kaboodle

First of all, credit where it’s due. The Kit & Kaboodle website is a beauty. It shows a level of thought that most bars never even come close to. Despite the fact it seems a little light on pictures of the venue itself, it’s a fun and quirky good time. This, of course, begs the question: What’s the actual club like?

Walking through the colour of King’s Cross, a small roped off area and offical, clip board weilding woman under an old school cinema sign mark the entry to the venue. They do have a lot of special events, and it does seem a bit cold from the street, but chance your arm and have a go. Just to the left of the Sugar Mill, for those that can’t fathom my directions. climb the stairs to get to the action. First floor has the cocktail bar, all red and gold. I can’t really say more than that as I can’t remember being in there.

Picture 14

One more floor brings you to the supper club. A big room, that feels even bigger when it’s empty and a long bar running down the back wall. The staff are friendly and will help you out with table service if you need it. The guys behind the bar know how to mix a drink but I couldn’t shake the feeling that the style of the space masked a lack of real substance.

The cocktail list reads well, and I enjoyed the Biss Nonna, a tanqueray 10, sweet vermouth, maraschino and blood grapefruit concoction. I decided to try them out on a favourite drink of mine, the Corpse Reviver #2. No Lillet, and only a passing acquaintance with the drink didn’t really bode well. The finished product was ok, but i couldn’t help feeling a lack of love.

This is a fun place to hang on the smash with your mates, and ordering from the list offers its rewards, but in all honesty, the cocktails are better elsewhere. 6/10, 7 if its lucky.

33 – 37 Darlinghurst rd, Kings Cross (02) 9368 0300

here on Google Maps.

Bookmark and Share