It seemed like the days of the three-Martini lunch had all but disappeared – until now. A slew of forward-thinking bars is offering half-pour cocktails to the delight of drinks lovers, their livers and their wallets. With all the taste and half the booze, now you can have a finely crafted tipple (or two) and still walk out the door in a straight line. Here are four bars pouring mini Martinis and nano Negronis that punch well above their weight.
Bar Topa, CBD
At the Ivy’s Basque-inflected tapas bar everything is small – from the digs to the snacks to the half-pour beverages. The menu is designed for grazing on your feet before moving on to the next place, so there are $8 cocktails, $4 beers, 100-millilitre wines and 60-millilitre sherries you can finish in a few (delicious) sips. Mixed drinks include half-sized Martinis, Negronis and Aperol spritzes, plus sherry-led house cocktails, just in case the hanging jamons weren’t serving sufficient Spanish vibes. The fortified wine pairs surprisingly well with Campari and vermouth in the Marques, and goes down a treat with tequila and pear liqueur in the La Perla, which could be improved only by being renamed the La Pearla (the pearl). You’re welcome, Merivale.
Maybe Sammy, The Rocks
We love all the accolades that Maybe Sammy received this year, including best new international cocktail bar (Tales of the Cocktail conference), best Australasian bar (World’s 50 Best Bars) and becoming the only bar in the country to rank in the world’s 50 best bars list) (number 43). But what we love even more than the well-deserved recognition is that you can sample its top-tier drinks at rock-bottom prices. During the daily “mini Martini hour” (from 4.30 to 5.30pm), half-sized cocktails are just $5.50, down from the regular price of $11 (or $10 in a flight of three). The drinks range from classics such as Martinis and Negronis to house specialties named after members of the Rat Pack. There’s a Sammy, a Dean and a Frank, and at those unreasonably reasonable prices you’ve no excuse not to get the whole gang back together.
In case you needed any more motivation to get out of the office early, the rooftop bar at Babylon, the sprawling venue on level 7 of Westfield Sydney, has upped the stakes with an aperitivo hour from 4pm to 6pm. In addition to the usual happy-hour fare ($7 wines, beers and spritzes) there are “pocket-sized cocktails” for $10. They include Martinis and Negronis, plus two interesting concoctions in keeping with the bar’s Middle Eastern and Mediterranean slant: the Pasha (amaro, prosecco, rhubarb and lemon) and the Yildiz (gin, Lillet, black tea sherbert, lemon and absinthe). They’re dangerously quaffable, but at a sensible 60-millilitres a serve, you needn’t think too hard about getting another round.
Bert’s, the upscale brasserie at The Newport, is Merivale’s take on a 1930s hotel dining room, and it shows on the cocktail list, which draws inspiration from the era’s grand European hotels and American country clubs. There are two half-sized pours for $12 and both are reinvented classics. The signature Bert’s Marteeny is a miniature vodka Martini spiked with lemon oil and enough Madeira to make it look like you’re drinking rosé; even the customary olives have been upgraded to “accoutrements” (a mix of cocktail onions, olives and cornichons). The other modestly sized cocktail is the Petit Matcha Alexander, a twist on a Brandy Alexander, with brandy, cacao, fior di latte (a semi-soft fresh cheese made in the style of Italian mozzarella), nuts and green tea. Think of it as a Saturday night version of a matcha latte, in a Tuesday-afternoon sized glass.