While tiny Cantina has long been the centre of the group’s tequila universe (it’s placed numerous times in the prestigious World’s 50 Best Bars list), this grand underground cantina is tipped to re-align the stars – offering five different types of Margarita and 100 hand-selected tequilas until 2am every night.
Look for the Centro 86 sign on Pitt Street and make a move up the Hoskings Place laneway. Like all the best bars in town, this one has a discreet entrance. Likewise, Centro 86 begs a few questions on arrival, including “where the hell am I?” and “how on earth did they pull this off?”
The subterranean space is a green dream, lined with artworks in a nod to classic Mexican Cantinas. The group’s associate creative director, Clayton Ciolac, spent 18 months on the look. For lovers of the psychedelic bartop at Bar Planet, Sydney artist David Humphries has once again worked his magic here.
But it’s also what’s behind the bar that counts. The team is known for its outstanding Margaritas, and you can certainly get one of those here. But Centro 86 also pays tribute to latin cantina classics, serving precise, layered, fruit-forward drinks made with shaved-to-order ice from one of three manual machines.
As ever, the team’s formidable selection of agave spirits is at the heart of the offering. Varieties have been collected from all over Mexico (and other parts of the world), with some aged in house. Whether you’re a longtime fan or a first-time drinker, this is one of the best places in Sydney to taste the tequila rainbow.
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