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



Bar, Sydney

The Flinders Hotel

Step over the pile of fixed gear bikes and past the bearded über swede in the crochet poncho, brush the past shoulder length hair out of your way, push in beside the tall, skinny cat, in tight jeans and a fur stole at a darkly lacquered bar covered in graffiti, some inspired, a lot not. You have arrived at the Flinders Hotel, now under new management.

While things do look as though a hipster bomb has gone off, don’t be put off if you’ve opted out of following the global fashion lead of trust fund babies channeling Kerouac in Williamsburg, beyond the shadow of Manhattan and her towers of finance. The Flinders delivers in wonderful, daggy charm.

Everything comes in a rocks glass or bamboo, but don’t let this apparent lack of polish fool you. The Laird’s Applejack Sour, a rarity on Sydney streets & the Nuclear Daiquiri were polished and supreme. The herby hint of my favourite green liqueur, Chartreuse, making this my fast favourite drink in the limits of this city.

A pleasant surprise on the other side of the bar, with the ladies outnumbering the men, perhaps the rarest experience in the Australian bar scene, especially at the pointy end where good drinks matter.

Arrive early if you want to carve your name for poserity or posterity. Arrive later if you’re looking for a achingly cool crowd and some of the coolest tunes I’ve run into this year. A 5 am closing means coming much later, when there simply are no other options is also on the cards.

I’ve heard talk of a boutique hotel and restaurant to open upstairs too.

63 Flinders St, Darlinghurst NSW 2010, Australia (02) 9356 3622

On Google Maps here.