There are those high-billing bars like the Baxter Inn and Eau de Vie and Tio’s that get all the attention. They may command major foot traffic now, but the arrival of this Darlinghurst oasis just a few doors up from No Names could change the game.
“Literally Sydney’s newest bar” says the sign at the bottom of the staircase. Head straight up and be greeted by a dark and welcoming little bar run by some star talent. Harriet Leigh’s the bar manager here. You might remember her from the Hotel Hollywood or Melt a few years back. She’s joined by Dominique Easter (who owns the bar with dad Derek) and her partner Brendan Keown. The guy’s not only a gun bartender but he’s also quizmaster every Monday at the Village. Suffice to say you’ll receive good chat and more general knowledge than you’ll know what to do with.
You’ll want to make sure to try the Fernet Julep. It’s a punch in the kisser of bourbon mint and Fernet Branca – everyone’s favourite Italian bitter-and-herbaceous liqueur – served in a pewter tankard. It’ll put hairs on your chest whether you want them or not. If you’re a Julep purist, the drink will probably horrify you. But if you’re willing to experiment, the mix of Fernet and bourbon and mint do wonderful, freaky things together.
Or why not just take your medicine by mixing it up with other medicine? The Hamish is a cocktail of tequila, whisky, sweet vermouth and bitters – picture a luchador and a big hairy Scotsman running into each other, punching each other and then hugging. All in a glass. Maybe a straight-up Martinez is the ticket, or a Whiskey Sour. Or get ‘em to go off-list. It’s a team with smarts and skills.
Don’t go expecting a huge range of taxidermy on the walls or private whisky rooms or secret compartments or graffitied toilets. Just go for well-made drinks, incredibly personable and knowledgeable service and a cosy Deco-style room filled with wooden booths, beautiful black wallpaper, armchairs and a bar you could lean against for hours.
We’ve had a round of small bars that have changed Sydney by just simply existing. But that’s over. Sydney expects more bang for its buck and the ’Rose delivers.