In the basement of a heritage-listed building where the headquarters of Parke Davis Pharmaceuticals once stood, an old-fashioned cocktail bar now resides.

Behind a black stage curtain at the bottom of the stairs is a bar fitted out with wooden crates and vintage cocktail shakers. “We really want to keep things simple and cosy,” says bar manager Neal Steigrad. We’re not sure if “simple” is the right word. But against the backdrop of tunes by Ray Charles and The Beach Boys, the apothecary-style decor is fun. It’s reinforced by the test tubes and medicinal paraphernalia displayed along the back of the diner and the measuring glasses dispersed throughout the basement bar.

The real therapeutic benefits, though, are in the drinks. Bartenders in waistcoats and slick hairdos dispense cocktails such as the Nacho Libre with fresh pink-grapefruit juice and chamomile tea, salted caramel tequila and a side of popping candy. The Bazooka mixes bubblegum vodka with citrus fruits, sparkling wine and a square of Hubba Bubba gum.

Parke Davis is already becoming known for its experimental cocktails, but there’s an equally interesting, pun-heavy food menu, too. “We're dishing up hearty meals,” says Steigrad, but “nothing fussy,” he assures.

A dish named Bonito is Beautiful speaks no word of a lie. The lightly seared tuna-style fish is recommended alongside Green Piece (sesame-seed crumbed asparagus with saffron aioli). For dessert, Nana Davis Cold Drops is just what the doctor ordered, offering a decadent concoction of banana and peanut butter as a sweet remedy to end the night with.

Parke Davis
125 York Street, Sydney
(02) 9264 4224

Tue to Sat 5pm–12am