Classic cocktail bars in Sydney are few and far between these days. You could argue there’s not really a place for them anymore. We are living in the age of the dive bar; the small milk crates’n’longies bar; the pop-up-art bar; the gig bar; the reworked pub and the alleyway bar. But then, where would you go when you wanted to frock’n’suit up and take the town in a whirlwind of Snappers, Fizzes, Highballs and Old Fashioneds?
Black Bar is the answer. And a fine answer it is, too. We know you've had more Mad Men references rammed down your throat over the past couple of years than you can stand when it comes to talking classic bars, so we won’t bother. Instead, we’ll use Boardwalk Empire. The haircuts, the shirt stays, the dark opulence. It’s got the look of a 1920s hotel bar, only with booze on proud display. Take a seat at one of the small tables dotted around, attached Siamese twin-style to Black by ezard - one of Star’s newest restaurant additions. (To be truthful, the bar’s better than the restaurant, but that’s just between us, OK?) There are a few seats at the bar, but those are more for when you want to nerd off with/chat up the bartenders - they're not really intended for groups.
Bartender Michael Chiem, formerly of Neutral Bay cocktail bar White Hart, is not only barrel-aging his own cocktails but is decked out in suspenders, a razorsharp slicked-back undercut and crisp white shirt - the whole kit. There’s hand-chipped ice (standard now in good cocktail bars) and while on one hand you might get an ice-cold Tommy’s Margarita with a half salt rim on the rocks, you may also get a not-quite-cold-enough Dark Horse - a stir-up of tequila and Lagavulin whisky - or gin Sour that tastes more like a passionfruit soufflé. (Banning passionfruit from bars will be our first act as director of the universe.) It's a bit of a coin toss. But there's plenty on the list to choose from.
On the other side of the coin, though, there’s the Alamagoozlum - the first test to see if you’ve had too many of these is to see if you can spell it backwards. Shaken and served in a balloon glass, it’s what you’d call a good-times drink of jenever, Jamaican rum, yellow chartreuse, Cointreau, water, Angostura bitters, all shaken with an egg white. It’s very refreshing. And then there’s the Vieux Carre - this reporter’s second favourite drink right now - of rye, Cognac, sweet vermouth, Benedictine, Peychaud’s and Angostura bitters, all stirred over ice. Nightcap bliss. And hey - there’s even a Christmas Blazer, just in time for the festive season.
Did we mention there have been a few DiCaprio sightings around the bar? Looks like he’s taking that Gatsby thing quite seriously. Because Black Bar is a class act all the way from the ice to the bitters. Put on your Sunday best and set up for some excellent drinkin'.