Does the opening of Maybe Sammy signal the revival of Sydney’s oldest suburb, The Rocks? Its uncool image is slowly shifting thanks to a couple of recently opened venues, such as underground whisky bar The Doss House, Israeli street-food restaurant Tayim and now this slick new cocktail bar from the Maybe Frank team.
Co-owners Stefano Catino and Vince Lombardo are known for pizza – they have two Maybe Frank pizza joints, one in Surry Hills and another in Randwick. But there’s always been a strong booze focus thanks to the group’s creative director, Andrea Gualdi, who took out the 2017 Australian Bartender Of The Year award at the respected Diageo Reserve World Class Competition, among other events.
On a recent trip to London, where they visited classic hotel bars such as The Langham and The Savoy, Catino and Gualdi realised Sydney had a lot of themed bars, but none that were 1950s Vegas-inspired. Cue the suave Maybe Sammy.
Designed by LD Studio, it has plenty of green, pastels and gold, and bartenders kitted out in pale-pink dinner jackets. Like Maybe Frank, Maybe Sammy gets its name from the old Las Vegas posters that were prevalent when the Rat Pack were on the scene in the 1960s, which read, “Dean Martin, maybe Frank [Sinatra], maybe Sammy [Davis Jnr]”, referring to the singers’ reputations for arriving unannounced for Dean Martin shows. The cocktail list, designed by Gualdi, also features drinks named after famous locations on the Vegas strip.
There’s a lot to love about that list, in particular the rotating tasting menu of $10 classic cocktails served in smaller-than-usual glasses. Named after the Rat Pack, there’s the Mini Martini (vodka or gin; olive or citrus), The Frank (Wild Turkey rye, dry vermouth, bitter Campari), The Sammy (Never Never gin, mint, sweet and dry vermouth) and The Dean (Plantation five-year rum, Calvados, Swedish punch).
It’s the show-stopping New Frontier that’s likely to get all the attention, though. The drink is made with Calle 23 Blanco Tequila, Derrumbes mezcal, fino sherry and apple, and is served alongside a clear inflated bag that’s popped on arrival to release a whiff of coffee essence and a scratchy that could win you a free bar snack.
Martin Hudak (ex- Savoy; 2017 World Coffee in Good Spirits Champion) oversees the coffee cocktails, sourcing the beans from a farm in Costa Rica and roasting them on-site.
Though food is not the focus at Maybe Sammy, it isn’t an afterthought. The menu – by Maybe Frank’s chefs Alessandro Leveratto and Stefano Sepe – features oysters with mandarin granita, cheese and charcuterie, and pretty tacos served with lavender-marinated salmon, crème fraiche and avocado.
115 Harrington Street, The Rocks
(02) 9241 4970
Sun to Wed 4.30pm–12am
Thurs to Sat 4.30pm–2am
This article first appeared on Broadsheet on January 7, 2019. Menu items may have changed since publication.