No matter how heated an argument over beautiful cities gets, put someone in a canary yellow beach chair with a cocktail in hand and uninterrupted harbour views and you’ll find they concede defeat fairly swiftly. And really, how do you compete with this? It’s a freaking bar on an island in the middle of Sydney Harbour for chrissakes. We may not have holiday spots like Mallorca or Sicily on our doorstep but the combined powers of potted geraniums, striped umbrellas and sky-blue picket fence gives this industrial island a sweet beach house vibe that works for us just fine.
If you're feeling tropical, make sure you wrap your laughing gear around an Eastern Apron, a blush-coloured fruity mix of passionfruit, pineapple and lime. It stays well away from punch territory though, with the sugar tempered by vodka and Aperol – not too sweet, not too bitter, and just right. So right, in fact, that it's gone in seconds – this is not a drink you can nurse for long. The elderflower Collins is an herbaceous combo of St Germain, gin, lemon and mint – it's as refreshing as lemon barley water after a game of backyard cricket.
On the snacks front, they’ll whip you up a salumi plate, but you can always get cured meats on the mainland – this here is pizza country. They've built a little woodfired oven inside a wee caravan and it pumps out some pretty tasty pizze for a former shipping yard girt by sea. A calzone is a safe bet when the wind is high: having your cheese, ham and tomato folded safely inside your pizza pocket keeps things toasty. The loose rocket on our Italian summer pizza does not fare so well.
Still, runaway salad greens aside, the Italian summer makes for a tasty picnic dinner. Instead of being baked on the focaccia base, the cherry tomatoes and soft rounds of buffalo mozzarella are applied once the pizza leaves the oven, snuggled up under a generous layer of prosciutto. The cold toppings means it feels more like a sandwich on warm bread than a pizza, but it's summery and fresh and spot on for hot- weather eating.
The Island Bar's unique location presents its challenges. To start with, it's pretty weather dependant. Rain would be a massive downer and that dinner-thieving bluster we mentioned will also make short work of coiffed hair and floaty skirts if you’re not careful. Also, keep in mind that it’s a bit of a commitment to get a drink out here. The ferry will take up to half an hour from Circular Quay and in our frivolity we fail to notice the last ferry home on Wednesdays and Thursdays is at 8.10pm. The bar closes at 7.30pm so you are looking at the better part of an hour just hanging out.
Drinking at the Island Bar is a bit of an inner-city adventure and one you should take advantage of in the summer months. Aim to get out there early and make a day of it. There are old buildings to explore and walks to break up the boozing. Or if reclining with a Tommy’s Margarita is all you want to do then that’ll work too.