Standing on the elegant rooftop at the new Jacksons on George, it’s hard to believe this is the same dive-y late night, live music bar that was once such a seminal part of being young in Sydney. But the staggering building with its view over Lend Lease’s new Sydney Place precinct to the twisted glass silhouette of the Crown Casino makes it clear: the old Jacksons on George is gone.
The newly built venue’s massive layout spans three floors and accommodates almost 500 people. There’s a bright glass-walled public bar on street level, a refined second-floor bistro with intimate private dining, and a sunny rooftop bar. Responsible for the knock-down-rebuild renaissance of the venue is DTL Entertainment Group, led by entrepreneurs Paul Ford and Steve Bannigan, Icebergs’ Maurice Terzini and publican Michael Broome.
“Everyone has a story of Jacksons on George,” Broome tells Broadsheet. “We’ve kept the spirit alive with the name, but this is a brand new site with an upmarket offering. We want it to be the first place people go, and we want them to stay all day.”
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Staying all day is now an easy proposition. The public bar is a good place to grab a pint and a duck sausage roll, and a sunny day on the rooftop will pass quickly with Negronis, seasonal Bellinis, a pared-back version of the bistro menu and vinyl-spinning DJs.
At Bistro George, head chef Steven Sinclair (Icebergs; The Old Schoolhouse Inn, Northern Ireland) flexes his creativity, mixing classic European cooking and Australian ingredients. There are Goolwa pippies served with guanciale and pangritata, coral trout with limoncello beurre blanc, king prawns with radicchio and romesco sauce, and southern rock lobster in a classic mornay with chives and tarragon.
The steak menu includes Wagyu rib eyes and Angus striploins served with a selection of classic sauces such as cafe de Paris butter and bearnaise. And proving that Jacksons on George has really changed, there’s even a dedicated caviar menu.
“We wanted to have those pub dishes that everyone is familiar with, but modernised,” says Sinclair. “Take the sausage rolls: we’re using free range duck and added diced mustard fruits, saltbush and pepperberry. We’re not overcomplicating things. We’ve got classic dishes, a few ingredients and a big focus on execution.”
Every element of the new build is dramatic: the 6.4-metre-long timber and stone bar downstairs; the luxe second-storey bistro with sumptuous bronze carpet, together with olive and burgundy elements; the exterior curved “architectural veil” of white ceramic rods that unites the spaces at the base of what will be Sydney’s tallest office building, standing 55 storeys high.
The works of local artists complete the inside spaces. There’s an oversized painting by Archibald Prize finalist Kaylene Whiskey brightening the ground-floor public bar, and yolk-yellow sunburst mural The Star We Live By from Marty Baptist casting yellow rays in a cavernous modern industrial stairway.
The rebirth of Jacksons on George has been a long time coming – the bar closed in 2018 to make way for construction. “It was a year and a half ago that Alex Prichard, the head chef at Icebergs, approached me about this project,” says Sinclair. “I knew it was a huge chance to do something big. We’re just buzzing to get going.”
Jacksons on George
176 George St, Sydney
Public Bar: every day 10am–late
Bistro George: every day midday–11pm
Rooftop: every day midday–midnight
Late Night Bar: Wed to Sat 11pm–late