Here's a rum bar with personality. They've spared no expense at this enormous new place, where large metal fans rotate slowly on the bright blue ceiling and massive barrels of rum age at the entrance of the restaurant. It's not hard to imagine James Bond lounging at the bar in a white linen leisure suit with a glass of rum and a cigar. Speaking of leisure suits, one Ernest ‘Papa' Hemingway smashed a few Mojitos at the original La Bodeguita in Cuba, which opened back in 1950.
So, of course, we make it our business to order a Hemingway and a Mojito. It's at this point we realise that La Bodeguita (or to give its full name, La Bodeguita del Medio Sydney) is not a typical Sydney cocktail bar. Oh no. The two guys behind the bar bust out some acrobatics. It starts with one of them yelling "let's make the world's tallest Mojito!" and the other guy yelling "yeah!". Naturally, one climbs on the other's shoulders and proceeds to free-pour rum everywhere but in the glass. They don't just stop at the Mojito. Given it's a pretty simple mix of rum, sugar and mint with a soda spritz, it's challenging but not impossible. It's when they begin to make the Hemingway from a great height that things start to get interesting. Maraschino cherries fly through the air and a waterfall of rum makes its way into the shaker. Yeah - the drinks are a fair bit sweeter than they should be, and it's the wrong type of grapefruit juice in the Hemingway, but you're far too busy applauding and whooping at the two nimble guys who are now juggling, flipping limes and ringing bells. And it's totally fine if you're not interested in craft cocktails and intent on having a fun time. If you want rum drinks with structure and a dose of seriousness, you'd be better heading just around the corner to Grandma's.
LBDMS have their very own house band who play Cuban music every night of the week, so you can get your dance on after dinner and drinks. It's a proper nightclub like they had in the 50s and 60s, where you'd have cocktails followed by dinner (and more cocktails), and then shake a tail-feather. If you're interested in trying a few of the different rums on offer, we'd probably suggest doing a tasting set - you can try any three 20ml pours from different rum-producing areas of the world, including Barbados, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Trinidad and Venezuela. Each rum is around $10/$11. Or hell, get yourself set up with just one rum and a beer.
This pocket of the CBD – which we're calling 'Queen Victoria's Arse' until we think of something better – is finally coming to life with the likes of Grandma's, this here bar, and the new Shady Pines (they're calling it the Baxter Inn) digs set to open at the end of the year. Drinkers can't lose.