Graceful, elaborate cocktails have never been particularly rock and roll, or at least they weren’t until Vasco Bar opened up in Surry Hills.

A jukebox glows in a dark corner, streaming a selection of surprisingly placid tunes the night we visited. Dim lighting illuminates iconic black and white stage shots on the walls and highlights a huge mural to the bar’s namesake.

Upon closer inspection, Vasco is as much a tribute to refined aperitif and Italian food as the grungy, 1980s rock culture that defines its aesthetic. The food here is a simple and fresh selection of Italian dishes. Their hotdog, with spicy Calabrian salsiccia, onion jam and seared cabbage with shoestring fries is in serious contention for Sydney’s finest.

Anyone in the habit of haunting Sydney’s best cocktail bars will recognize a few unshaven faces working behind the mahogany in this electric atmosphere – think Luke Ashton of The Roosevelt, or owner Max Greco, formally head bartender at Eau de Vie.

Vasco Bar captures the gritty essence of rock and roll without sacrificing any of the more elegant aspects that make a cocktail bar exceptional. Which, as far as we can tell, is a feat not often accomplished. We suspect the guitar pick business cards will disappear as fast into people’s pockets as the drinks will down their throats.

Contact Details

Updated: March 13th, 2018

We do not seek or accept payment from the cafes, restaurants, bars and shops listed in the Directory – inclusion is at our discretion. Venue profiles are written by independent freelancers paid by Broadsheet.