Sydney’s bars are becoming more specialised and smaller. It’s a great change because now we have our own distilleries, new bars dedicated to spritz and Bloody Marys, and more generally excellent bars serving distinct and inventive local liquors. Following our list of the best restaurants and cafe openings, here are our favourite bar openings for the first half of 2015.
Gunther's Dining Room
If you could transmogrify a film into a physical location, GDR would be the manifestation of American Hustle but without scams and ugly haircuts. Depending on what time you float in from neighbouring European diner Redfern Continental, you’ll either hear Otis Redding and Thelonious Monk or Booker T. Jones and the Bee Gees. People will either be dancing between tables or sipping at the edges of a sexy glass filled with Laird’s Applejack, Dolin Rouge, Del Maguey Vida Mezcal, bitters and sugar.
The residents of Summer Hill had been pining for a small bar opening for years. When it finally came it totally eclipsed any of their, or our, expectations. With rotating taps of local craft beers, some seriously world-shattering spirits and a transient list of locally named cocktails, Temperance Society has got more selling points than most bars to its east. However, it’s far more relaxed and comfortable. We like to think it’s kind of like hanging out in the kitchen or library of a recently renovated castle.
Before Archie Rose opened, Sydney hadn’t seen a distillery since the 1850s. Opening and running distilleries in Sydney is notoriously difficult. Credit to Will Edwards, the charismatic young entrepreneur who has produced a magnificent team to deliver both nuanced and mature spirits and a beautiful bar to serve them. Edwards has been working with head distiller Joe Dinsmoor on the production of gin, vodka and white rye, all of which are astounding considering the youth of both Edwards and his fledgling distillery.
This Must be the Place
One trend we’ve wholeheartedly embraced this year is specialisation. Restaurants, bars and cafes are doing fewer options better. This Must be the Place does Spritz and does it well. Charlie Ainsbury and Luke Ashton, the two exceptionally handsome and skilled bartenders at the helm of the operation, have created a simple but innovative menu that twists and embraces the refreshing and light nature of the Spritz. Try a Rose Gold with Kina L’Aero D’Or Quinquina, rose, Liqueur de Violette and homemade grapefruit oil.
We love Hartsyard because there’s no compromise on taste. Dishes are rich, intense and sometimes unusual, but everything is bloody delicious. The Gretz, the second venue from husband-and-wife team Greg Llewellyn and Naomi Hart, follows the same philosophy. The cocktail and oyster bar holds nothing back with cocktails like Coffee and Cigarettes, which mixes Johnny Walker Black, Mr Black cold drip and coffee liqueur, Antica Formula and chocolate bitters. Next to your oysters order a stick of salmon jerky or scotch olives (yes, olives but crumbed and deep fried) showered in manchego and aioli foam.
Honorable mention: Bloody Mary’s