“You can’t get a Negroni like mine anywhere else because we’re the only people with this vermouth,” Sam Overton tells Broadsheet. “It took me like eight months of trial and error until I found my own recipe.” He’s talking about the three-part cocktail at Frankie Cadillac, his new Surry Hills Bar. The man loves gnocchi, UK garage music and Negronis – and Frankie is the spot for all three.

Overton is no stranger to the hospo scene, having opened Bootleg Italian in Paddington (famous for its vodka rigatoni) in 2022. Everything at Bootleg is made in-house, and once Overton started making his own vermouth – with people heading in just for the Negronis that featured it – he figured it was time to create a dedicated venue.

He’s opened a small spot on Albion Street, where the lights are always low and UK garage blasts. Drinks and a snacky food menu arrive to black marble tables; art in ornate gold frames – found at flea markets and antique stores – covers the walls.

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There are 14 Negronis on the menu, plus the Negroni of the week, all made with Overton’s own vermouth and liqueurs.

“A Negroni is a great drink to be able to mix and match with,” he says. There’s the classic Campari, gin and house-made vermouth combo, or the Gloria, which sees a drier vermouth and orange liqueur join in. The Mexican adds mezcal to the mix. Although Overton says most guests are here for the (typically) deep amber pour, there is also a list of natural wines, timeless cocktails and house-made sodas.

With Bootleg’s success, Frankie Cadillac was always going to have a strong, Italian-inspired food offering. The emphasis is on light meals and appetisers – the indulgent kind. In this spirit, Overton pulled the salad.

“We’ve got a pesto gnocchi, we fry it so it’s crisp on the outside but like a soft cloud on the inside,” he says. “You’ve got the fresh, zingy pesto, a little bit of chilli, and parmesan on top.” Find serves of mushroom arancini too, and zucchini flowers stuffed with ricotta then doused in citrusy honey.

Similarly, there are fried ricotta-filled Sicilian olives that are “dangerous, because you can just sit there and eat the whole plate of them”. Heartier plates include an elevated beans on toast: parmesan-topped butter beans, swimming in Bootleg’s famously silky vodka sauce, arrive on a thick slice of sourdough. (This particular dish was inspired by a version that a “really hungover” Overton made at home.)

“I literally had one piece of bread in the freezer, a can of butter beans, and I had some of the Bootleg vodka sauce,” he says. While his team was initially sceptical, after a taste test it was all anyone ate for a week.

To finish it’s a dish that “shouldn’t work” but does. Gnocchi is fried until crisp, covered in honey, brown sugar and cinnamon, then served with ice-cream and caramel sauce.

Just like at Bootleg, the menu at Frankie Cadillac is plant-based, but it’s not something Overton wants to emphasise. “We just want to be known as a great Negroni bar with good antipasti.”

With a happy hour spruiking $11 Negronis from 4.30pm till 6pm, and a four-part Negroni tasting plate, word is sure to get out.

Frankie Cadillac
87 Albion Street, Surry Hills
0468 552 266

Hours:
Tues to Thurs 4.30pm–10.30pm
Fri 4.30pm–midnight
Sat midday–midnight

frankiecadillac.com
@frankie__cadillac