As Sydney’s dining scene has changed, we’ve changed with it. Great, innovative restaurants are being welcomed by a city full of interested, engaged diners who are ready for anything. More and more, we’re noticing that experimentation isn’t limited to the plate, so with that in mind, we’ve curated a list of the city’s more innovative drink menus, along with a few recommendations to get you started.
Riley Street Garage
Instead of a mechanic, at Riley Street you’ll find a Mexi-chanic, flavoured with mango and pepper; or a Judo Chop made with Ketel One vodka, elderflower liqueur and pressed apple juice. Riley Street Garage’s cocktail list is a terrific blend of classic and creative, an ode to Regan Porteous’s modish food (chorizo corn dog; chicken with an apple and onion vinaigrette) and the 1934 Art Deco building it is served inside.
Icebergs Dining Room and Bar
Of all the places in Sydney to enjoy a cocktail with a view, Icebergs is pick of the bunch, and serves a seasonal cocktail list that balances the menu’s Italian traditions with Australia’s great produce. Start your meal with its Classic Aperitivo, made with Tanqueray gin, Italian bitters, house-made grapefruit cordial, orange juice, basil and soda.
Kensington Street Social
When Jason Atherton brought his empire to Sydney, some were probably wondering if we were going to get another iteration of his “Socials” (Atherton’s chain of London restaurants). To get a sense of the effort he’s gone to meld his UK vision with his local surrounds, try the Vegemiteini. It might sound like a gimmick, but this salty, umami mix of Tanqueray gin, vermouth and Vegemite bitters goes particularly well with Atherton’s vine tomato and burrata dish.
If you looked into a crystal ball you’d see a lot of venues like Bar Brosé in Sydney’s future. Casual but elaborate; derivative but innovate; and serving classic dishes with simple but precise twists. In Brose’s case, those classics are French, and include enormous, fluffy comte gougeres; and a Beetroot Negroni made with Tanqueray gin.
Sokyo does a lot of things – breakfast, buffets, sashimi, robata, omakase (chef’s pick dinners), but that doesn’t mean its attention is divided. Precision is the end goal here, and this applies to its cocktail list. There are a lot of flavours, some seemingly disparate or odd (such as the Apollo made with Tanqueray gin, ginger and sage; or the Aztec Old Fashioned, with chocolate liqueur and coriander chilli syrup), but it’s not a stretch to imagine every drink here fitting in at the best cocktail bars in the world.
Cho Cho San
Where else can you eat a Japanese bolognaise and something called a Mandi Shandi? Not everything on the menu is so bewildering, but it certainly is as playful and irreverent. Such as the Negroni (called a Nippy Rockshop) made with Tanqueray gin, sake, vermouth and orange bitters.
Twelve cocktails for 12 Chinese zodiac signs; each one with a different representation of China’s many cuisines, flavours and textures. From the West Chinese-styled Ox with Ketel One vodka, tomato, capsicum and XO spice mix, to a Sheep with Don Julio Blanco tequila, cucumber water, green chilli and lime.
There is one page on the menu for tequila cocktails; one for rum cocktails; another for mescal; and two more for Cachaca and Pisco. If you want to try a range of Latin American liquor with some of Sydney’s best tapas (hot cross bun with corned beef and smoked oyster mayo; or crispy duck, scallops and chocolate mole), Bodega is where you go.
Maybe Frank isn’t a huge venue, but has enough space, and ambition, to fit in its very own cocktail bar. Among the pizza you’ll find World Class bartender Andrea Gualdi, a man with an impressive resume (ex-Artesian Bar, London) demonstrated in cocktails such as The Sophia, an incredible interpretation of “a kiss from the most beautiful woman in the world.”
Bridge Street Garage
The game here is American–Argentinian comfort food: ribs; burgers; and empanadas. But while the food menu might be simple, the cocktails contain some interesting and creative ingredients. The Garage Colada is made with coconut sorbet; the Smokey Old Fashioned with house-cured bacon; and the Blonde Bombshell with lemon curd.
This article is presented in partnership with World Class.