Growing up in Marrickville and Cabramatta, hospitality operator Reymark Tesalona was spoilt for choice when it came to Southeast Asian eateries and bars. But he felt Sydney’s CBD was lacking. So, together with boutique property developer Ashwin Arumugam, he opened Vinabar, a microbar inspired by the flavours of Vietnam.

“Most of our friends are Vietnamese, and we’ve both travelled to Vietnam,” Tesalona tells Broadsheet. “The flavours, the culture, the hustle and bustle really hit close to home, and bring a sense of nostalgia and joy.”

Like a few of Sydney’s favourite bars, the new spot hides behind a door disguised as something else. On Kent Street, a door disguised as a traditional banh mi cart – bearing cartons of eggs, bottles of spicy sauces and cans of condensed milk – sits between two floor-to-ceiling windows. Push on it (hard – it’s heavy!) and you’ll find yourself staring up at a dazzling canopy of silk Hoi An lanterns, each handmade in the ancient town they’re named after.

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Beneath, drinkers gather in armchairs clustered around black marble tables or at the bar in front of two shelves stacked with spirits, propped up by a giant pair of hands – a 3D-printed replica of the Golden Hand Bridge in Vietnam’s Ba Na Hills. Armchairs and comfy bar stools provide seating for just 18 – and there’s room for another 14 standing.

Like the space, the menu is teeny tiny. A red-and-yellow card peddles four cocktails (all featuring Vietnamese ingredients), one shot, one beer, three wines and two dishes. “We wanted to incorporate unique fruits into our cocktails,” says Tesalona. “Some people go overboard on the sugar syrup and on presentation – with big jugs, and smoke and mirrors. We wanted the focus to be on the flavour and freshness of the produce.”

Each cocktail arrives at the table like a beautiful gift, topped with a single garnish. The Vinagroni, a play on the Negroni, is laced with smoked hickory and garnished with a dried slice of starfruit resting on a big clear block of ice. From above, it looks like the Vietnamese flag. A sweeter (but not too-sweet) hit is the Rumble in the Jungle, a bright, lime-green take on a lychee Martini bringing jungle juice (a mix of apple, pear and kiwi) and rambutan.

The Cà Phê Martini brings vodka boosted by G7 Viet Coffee – a top instant coffee in Asia – and sweetened with condensed milk (like traditional Vietnamese coffee) and delightfully garnished with a Pocky. “It’s an interactive drink,” says Tesalona. “You can mix it, or dip the stick into it and take a bite.”

Butter Me Up is the fourth and final cocktail. The zingy-yet-caramel-y twist on a Whisky Sour, where notes of Earl Grey, apple and citrus join butterscotch. Every fortnight brings a new special, which the waiter sketches on a coaster at your table. Currently it’s the Hanoi Heat, a spicy collision of tequila, agave, pineapple and citrus.

The duo of snacks is made up of thin slices of green mango with a side of chilli salt, and hiramasa kingfish ceviche marinated in citrus, coriander and fresh chilli, then topped with shaved coconut, microherbs and dragonfruit. And, baby banh mi as of Friday December 15. “You won’t find anywhere else where you can get pork rolls at 2am,” says Tesalona.

332 Kent St, Sydney

Daily 4pm–2am