Yum cha and cocktails are long-standing fixtures of a Sydney weekend in their own right. Now, The Roosevelt team is marrying the two favourites for a unique drinking experience tucked away in one of the Cross’ most historic pockets.
“People go to a cocktail bar and they don’t know where to start. The idea was: just bring the drinks to the table and they can decide what they do or don’t want to try,” explains Sven Almenning (owner of the Speakeasy Group, which includes Eau de Vie) of the new-look Thursday night at The Roosevelt.
The concept is simple enough: take a seat, keep an eye on the trays of drinks circling the room, pipe up when you like the look of something and get your card stamped. Almenning and Dr Phil (the resident drinks man) are focused on making quality drinking accessible to their customers. Their list of 12 half-strength cocktails are loosely grouped into aperitifs, “the main event” and digestifs to showcase a variety of spirits, flavours and styles.
If you have ever seen the liquid nitrogen trolley making its rounds you know The Roosevelt goes heavy on the theatre, something they haven’t shelved for cocktail yum cha. Most of the drinks are finished in front of you or sport some kind of extravagance, such as Dr Phil’s pick of the list, the Glittering Mile. It’s called after the area’s infamous nickname and pairs pineapple, apple vinegar, berry liquor and champagne with an edible golden food paint. Glittery. If you have simpler tastes take a cue from Almenning and order the cold-drip Americano served in a jam jar.
The Roosevelt keeps itself apart from the throng of Kings Cross by maintaining a strong current of continuity with the Cross of yesteryear. The bar’s namesake stood in the same spot on Orwell Street during the mid 20th century and Almenning is openly enthusiastic about the area’s lesser-known history. “All the drinks on our list are inspired by the eccentric and colourful characters of the Cross back in the day … It’s part history lesson,” says Almenning.
Cocktail yum cha will be available at The Roosevelt on Thursdays for the foreseeable future, and, if a hit, may soon be seen at Eau de Vie.