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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Cool little start of a campaign breaking in Australia for Ketel One.  The video content is supported by OOH placements on bus shelters. Brands have been treating bartenders like heroes for a while now, but this really steps it up a notch.

Great call using Max Greco for one of the first vids too. He is awesome.

You can see some more videos here, and I’d guess there’s more to come.

Bar, Sydney

Sticky

Made it back to Sticky for the first time since I started this blog. Tucked down Taggart’s Lane in a dingy doorway beside the goods fridge for the restaurant is the entrance to Sticky.

The closest thing we have to a Melbourne hospitality experience with kind words and cheeky wit at the door, even if the popularity of the upstairs space means a short wait in the cold. Ascend the stairs, breathing in the smells from Table for 20, a sharing plate concepted, long table execution of a best of what’s on offer model.

Ascend another set and you’ll hit to the laid back attic, decked out with antiques and little padded stools. The bar has obviously been designed by a bartender. Plenty of space behind it, and it’s needed when the place fills up. The beer selection is limited, but nicely done, Birra Messina a real standout.

The back bar is adorned by many nectarous bottles. Aged Grappa and Sazerac Ryes are obviously firm favourites of the boys behind the wood. A couple of special cocktails are chalked up, a twenty something bottle winelist as well.

I stuck to the beers and more than a couple of Negroni’s with the gin changed out for a blanco tequila. Nicely turned out. The pricey but oh so luxurious highlight for me was a Sazerac, whipped up with Thomas Handy’s Sazerac Rye.

Worth the trip, especially if you haven’t yet visited Melbourne and seen what real hospitality looks like. Don’t worry too if you get stuck upstairs drinking, the tasting plates are, well, tasty.

182 Campbell St, Surry Hills, Sydney. 0416 096 916.

On 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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