There’s no denying the impact of the inner-city lockout laws. Kings Cross has been hit the hardest, with Hugos Lounge bowing out alongside Sapphire Lounge, Soho and the BackRoom.

The silver lining? A significant number of restaurants and bars have surfaced in the area, from Wilmer and Jangling Jack’s to ABC Restaurant and Bar. The Sugarmill has decided to get with the times with a facelift and rebrand.

Under different owners, it will now operate as the Potts Point Hotel. The building will continue to house Kit and Kaboodle and the Sweethearts Rooftop, but the ground-level pub has been renovated. It’s under the new ownership of syndicate group Potts Point Hotel Investments, headed up by Chris Jolliffe.

“It’s probably best described now as a modern-Australian pub,” says Jolliffe. “You’ll still get a beer in a schooner glass.”

There’s a public bar space, high tables, a TV with the sport and a fully serviced dining room. The riff-raff of tattered posters and American dive-bar vibes has been replaced with sleek timber lines, large dome lightshades and brassy-zinc finishes. All within a refreshing monotone colour scheme.

“It’s a much cleaner look,” says Jolliffe. “While it’s all one post code, Potts Point has an identity and Kings Cross has an identity and everyone’s seen Potts Point creeping closer into that traditionally ‘Kings Cross’ space.

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“From a business point of view, a big part of the footprint was the late-night trading, the nightclub levels. Clearly with the lockout and what it’s done to the area, those parts of the business aren’t as viable anymore so there’s a need to prop the lack of business up with some earlier trade,” says Jolliffee. “Food focus, crafted cocktails and small-scale breweries is what we’re aiming for on the ground floor, with an idea to appeal to Potts Point locals who might not have otherwise viewed the Sugarmill venue as an option.”

The menu is mostly catered to carnivores, courtesy of two meat smokers imported from the US. Dishes include buttermilk chicken, Riverina Angus beef brisket and Carolina pulled-pork shoulder. The Angus flank steak with shiso butter is an upgrade on your typical pub staple. There’s also fried-chicken burgers with kimchi and pickles and smoked trout.

Bar Manager Rollo Anderson’s cocktail list features twists on classics with dedications to historical Potts Point figures. The Carlotta Collins is dedicated to Carol “Carlotta” Spencer, the famous transgender performer. The drink is a twist on a Tom Collins, it’s tall and refreshing with some dry Aperol.

Potts Point Hotel
33-35 Darlinghurst Road, Potts Point

Mon to Sun 11.30am-late