Monday, January 14, 2013

Opera Bar

Lower Concourse, Sydney Opera House, Sydney

(Despite appearances, we sort of have a system. Check here to be enlightened/vaguely disappointed).

Barely distinguishable from the less popular ORER BAR

Sometimes we like to review bars that hardly anybody has heard of. At other times, we like to review bars that everybody who lives in Sydney, everybody who has ever visited Sydney, most guide dogs and at least four species of amoeba have been to. If you haven’t been, you're an idiot and you should go there just to see the damn thing

So we went to Opera Bar.

It'd have a nice view if that big white thing wasn't in the way.

Opera Bar, on the lower concourse that leads towards the Sydney Opera House (it’s still a mystery how they named the bar, but we’ll do some more research and get back to you), shows off Sydney at its best and most obvious. The map on the card shows that if you walk to the end of the bit of Sydney that looks like it's flipping you off, you're sweet.

And the horse you rode in on, Bennelong Point.

 You have the country's two most iconic landmarks right in front of you. Walk too far one way and you’ll drop into the harbour (or bump into a very gigantic passenger liner that’s moored in it, as was the case when we visited). There was one point when we actually plotted how to get onto said passenger liner to use their gigantic slippery slide and pool… then the liner started to move and there was no way our little legs were going to travel quick enough to make that dream a reality. One day we will sing “On A Boat Bitch” and it will be factual. That’s going to happen.

But for now we'll just settle for Jo's new fisheye lens, because WHEEEE! TECHNOLOGY

It is also a very good bar to visit if it’s forty-one frigging degrees in the shade, as was the case when we visited. That is scientifically hotter than Satan’s undescended testicle (we’ve already done our research on that one, and can’t thank the friendly people at Encyclopaedia Brittanica enough). 

This is what testicles look like. I'm told.

Third hottest day on record, fire warnings were at 'catastrophic' levels... what were we to do but drink? It would have been rude not to and let's be honest, we have no other way of dealing with things.It was HOT, we tell you. Or, as New Zealanders might pronounce it: “HOT”.

Must... rehydrate...

Tssssssssssssssss, etc.

SCENERY It’s pretty easy to find Opera Bar. Just point yourself towards the pointiest building you can see and then stop when you find yourself surrounded by drinking people. It’s important to stop, because it’s possible to wander straight through the place. Opera Bar is small on the inside, where the main bar is, and unbelievably, massively sprawling on the outside, where a supplementary outside bar is. 

Mmmmmm. Supplementary.

So it’s like a reverse tardis, or spilled intestines, or something else big on the outside and small on the inside that’s neither nerdy nor gross. With ample seating – Jo guessed for 300 to 500 people, Lorin guessed for “fuckin’ heaps”, you’ll easily find somewhere to sit, although possibly not under the hotly contested and coolly shady umbrellas.

Fuckin' heaps.

The furniture is incredibly well maintained for that of an outdoor crowded bar – it’s like the outdoor furniture you’d find on your rich friend’s third balcony – all lovely dense wood slats, relatively comfortable on the bottom, white umbrellas, stainless steel bars. It hasn't changed at all since it opened and there has been no need, it all works brilliantly. There’s even seating right up near the edge of the harbour, with the breeze and the Harbour Bridge in your face. When there, might we recommend a scenic shot with you in the foreground and some Sydney landmarks in the background. We find it works best if you have eighteen or nineteen separate attempts, all of them disturbing.


THE CHORUS This is a busy bar. As far as staff was concerned, we decided we’d have to dispense with our usual criteria – things like conversation, long, detailed booze discussions, drink suggestions and seats at the bar. These guys are busy, and these guys are fast. 

Thanks for telling us about the floral dress rule, YOU GUYS.

Almost unbelievably under the circumstances, these humans are also outrageously friendly, calm, helpful and efficient. And kind of hot, especially the outside glassies. HEEEEEY, GUUUUUYYYYS. Over here. Yep. The ones sweating through their maxi-dresses. What up.

Just relax and act natural, Jo.


The actual clientele is about as varied as you can get – sequins next to boardies, platform heels next to thongs, tourists next to a girl we decided we didn’t like with a stupid dress and a stupid fan and stupid melodramatic movements and who was stupid. That’s an average day, but the crowd can change quite drastically depending on the time you do go. After work crowds and any night on the weekend will obviously attract the douchery, but you can’t have a bar in the city, especially with this view, and not get that outcome. We believe Jo said it best when one particular patron inspired the line “I want to hate him enthusiastically with a knife". But hey, even Thor likes to drink here.

Pretty sure.

IT AIN’T OVER UNTIL THE SKINNY LADY SINGS This joint has live music pretty much every night, and the night we were there, it probably couldn’t have suited the environment better. A three piece combo (yes, combo) played grooves (yes, grooves) perfectly in tune with the Summery surroundings and lazy vibe (yes, vibe).  Of particular note were the jazz covers of Madonna and Michael Jackson, which were as smooth as the sails of the Opera House or a bald seagull. I think so, anyway. We weren’t, obviously, sober the whole time.


PROPS As far as drinks go, it is very easy to think a cold drink is the love of your life if you’re sitting outside in forty-one degree heat, and PS our new boyfriends taste like watermelon and pear. Cocktails are only available from the inside bar, with quite an efficient system – you order your cocktails, and then go stand near a sign that Lorin wants for her room, then the dedicated cocktail dude makes your drinks, freeing up the regular bar staff to take more orders.

Because her surname is Pickup. Right? The name of this blog just got forty percent more awesome in your miiiiind.

 The dude gets to work in a cock(tail) pit and turns the magical words on a page into reality. It's like a production line of awesome. Brusque and impersonal in almost any other, smaller bar, but perfect for this one, with its eight thousand hundred million people. The cocktail list is Summer-skewed and divine, dotted with mint, lime, strawberries, mango and watermelon. One of the cocktails is called a ‘Dirty Carpet Disco’. For clarity: this is one of the best cocktail names in drinky history. There are two jug options including a ‘Pimms Twist’, and the whole thing reads like the smell of cool rain on a hot alcoholic. The wine list has two or three choices per varietal at middlingly-affordable prices, and the food menu is quite clearly overpriced yet irritatingly almost irresistible. We resisted because we’re hardcore. Hardcore people keep telling other people they’re hardcore. Shut up.

Get on with it.

DRINKY DRINKY: LORIN Jo did the honours of ordering my first drink, and apparently wasn't asked what kind of vodka I would like, but that ridiculousness was followed up by asking if I would like lemon or lime. Well done on saving face, man... oh, and lime. I'll be honest, it was 40+ degrees outside, I could have sculled anything at this point, but it was glorious. It had a little more dry ginger ale than I would normally appreciate, but given the circumstances, it was perfect. I'm fairly certain that the ginger ale was Schweppes and there is something about this I stupidly enjoyed. Given the environment, they could have used anything, but it doesn't need to be some fancy, organic, imported soda... they went with the classic and it paid off. It was broken though, it didn't last very long at all.

Slurp noise.

For our cocktails, I went in armed with our selections. I wanted a High Tease (Hendricks gin, elderflower liqueur, rose & cucumber infusion, pink grapefruit juice) but when I requested it, my tender told me that they were out of Hendricks and so refused to make it with anything else. God damn woman, I could kiss you for your commitment to your art. She then suggested I try a Opera White Tea (Vodka, Poire William liqueur, Cointreau, Olmeca tequila, pear puree, apple juice) and given that she was so adamant about her ingredients, I trusted her and was pleasantly satisfied. It was along the same lines as what I wanted, it was dry, a bit tart, ridiculously refreshing, a bit fruity, but not really sweet at all. It kind of went down like water. A bonus was that fresh pear was cut and displayed like the opera house in my glass. 

Normal view

Put your fucking lenses away Jo view.

Shut up, I know. It was good, but it wasn't spectacular... not that a cocktail needs to be spectacular, but that really has never hurt anyone.

DRINKY DRINKY: JO My standard drink, a gin and tonic, was a truly acceptable house gin – I wasn’t asked my preference for any part of it except the garnish (lime, losers) but again, you let details slide when efficiency is key. The drink was a little small (as all drinks are), but spectacularly refreshing – under normal circumstances there’s a chance I might have thought there was too much tonic in it, but on a swelteringly hot day, it was like dipping my head in a bucket of effervescent cool while a man made of gin gently cupped one of my buttocks. Also I may have heatstroke. 
Or as the lady in this photo says: "hurrrr thruurrrk"

My cocktail might have been the world’s most perfect heatwave drink. Called a ‘Big Red Cooler’, it had Belvedere red, watermelon liqueur, fresh basil and lemonade, with a tiny side-note on the menu claiming that all sales of that particular drink supported the Global Fund for HIV/AIDS in Africa. I’m drinking fifteen of these bad boys, but only because charoddy. Charty. Churrritah. People with AIDS.

Let's just look at the pretty pink drink and forget I said that.

THE ORCHESTRA PITS Opera Bar doesn’t have its own toilet. There are toilets available, but they’re also available to the adjoining eateries and to every person who wants a squiz at the Opera House. In essence, it's pretty much like going to a stadium bathroom. It's not bad, it's just that there is no personality and you don't know how many people use it. Like.. y’know. Just eight or nine million people each day. It’s a wee little walk, during which time it might become an actual wee. It’s weird, is what it is.

A bit like The Shining in bathroom form.

OF SPECIAL NOTE: The first thing we noticed about Opera Bar (after the big iconic Australian thingummyjigs, whatevs) was that the larger tables have a shelf for your handbag. These are the eighteenth greatest invention in the universe, which is especially impressive when you consider that six of the preceding inventions are related to bacon, bacon products, and Ryan Gosling memes.

OF LESS SPECIAL NOTE: There was a guy there with a hula hoop. Lorin called him a douche. Jo argued that of all the bars to have a hula-hoop in, this was probably one of the most suitable. Lorin countered with “There is no bar you can hula hoop in and not be a douche. You’re not a lion tamer. You’re a douche”. And SCENE.

The Opera Bar is never going to be your local, but it’s pretty special on a summer’s day. It’s a bit upsetting they didn’t organise any fireworks off the bridge for us, but you can’t win them all. But we do want fireworks at some point. Sort it out.

We’re giving this baby three and a half handbag-shelves out of five.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Marble Bar

Level B1, Hilton Sydney Hotel, 488 George Street Sydney

(No idea what we’re doing? Look at that link, top right there, after the word ‘Alfie’. Theeeeere you go.)

Aaaaaaaah, crap.

We slept through our alarm.

For like.


Two years.

Look, we realise you’re a little angry right now, that you think we deserted you, that we moved on with someone younger and prettier, with perter buttocks*. Someone that doesn’t ask so many questions, like ‘why don’t you do any reviews of bars that aren’t in the deck of cards’, and ‘do snakes float if they hold their breath’. Or you think that we’ve been out there leading spectacular lives, and don’t think you’re special any more.


Truth be told, we kinda missed just catching up with each other without having to take notes about every f@#king little thing.

That, and we’re sort of crap.

Don’t get us wrong, we’ve still been drinking in that time, but we got so distracted we lost sight of what was important.

You, our readers.

Both of you.

From the bottom of our hearts we apologise. See?

Never been to acting school, but NAILED IT.

But good news: we’re back!

I know, it's like someone just suggested we have crunchy AND soft tacos.

To kick things off, we decided that we’d go to the first bar in the pack. Marble Bar, and bring our elegant compadre Lucia along. For a lot of people Marble Bar will dredge up memories of when you first left school and you thought that you would go to a cool, fancy bar because you totally could do that because you’re a grown-up now, and you don’t answer to nobody or nuthink. Where you could spend heaps on a drink, before you realised that you need to get a job to support that kind of behaviour. To other people it might be the place that you have definitely been to before, you just can’t remember when it was or with who. It’s ok, that happens (Hint: it was that guy with the thing on his lip).
Which you couldn't see, because this shit be DARK.

Located in the basement of the Hilton, Marble Bar is, well, a bar made of marble. See?

Jo loves anything that's cold with drinks in it like she is.

When we first walked in, Lorin wondered if Versace had thrown up in this place. Two days later, Jo sent an email saying ‘Hey, you know how you said Versace threw up? We could, like, say that he threw up after eating Rococo Pops. ROCOCO POPS, LORIN’ because she’s borderline mentally touched and should be studied. Lucia commented that the ambience was “lecherous, like sodomy you could only get in the 17th Century”. Seriously, this is why we drink – without booze we’re just eighty percent ridiculous analogies, forty percent carbs and eight percent mad sick maths skills.

Anyway, you have never been faced with this much marble. FACT.

DON’T BE FOOLED BY THE ROCKS THAT THEY GOT. Once we sat down and looked around, though, we were kind of impressed with how ridiculously ornate and detailed the décor is, and how many representations there are of boobies around the joint. The walls are adorned with oil paintings, the lighting is dark but not dingy and we got the overwhelming feeling we were in a monk den. Yeah, that’s right - a monk den. Not a monastery. We like our monks feisty and a little drunk.
This monk, he's gone to heaven.

Surveying the intricately carved bar (of which there are two, one flanking each side wall), we pondered the incredible work that the carpenter of such swirly magnificence had completed. “I bet he was relieved by the time he got to the tits, huh” said Jo. See, at knee height, there are carved figurehead-style ladies with no tops or bras on – Lorin even bruised her knee on a boob while she was crossing her legs.

It made her go all cross-eyed and blurry and nude.

Less enchanting, though, was Creepy Kid Nook.
It’s a kid. Who is creepy. In a nook. THIS BAR TOTALLY HAS EVERYTHING.

Like gin. And nightmares.

We’ve never seen both of the bars manned and serving at the same time, but in Lorin’s head they’re duelling bars, and that’s final. With only one operating, it creates a good space in the room. People can stand and chat at the bar and the opposing side of the room allows for people to sit at tables with their group, or in the middle of the room on lounges in front of the band area. It's roomy and cosy at the same time, like a jacuzzi at a ski lodge.

ROCK AND OR ROLL ISH. Speaking of the music, at first it’s fairly inoffensive, we-think-this-might-be-one-of-the-barstaff’s-ipods rock, while the band sets up. As the band sets up, we spy the singer and Lorin is ninety percent sure that he’s an ex-Australian Idol finalist. In a fedora, obviously. Her money is on funky soul covers for the rest of the night, but Jo reckons thrash metal and goes back to her maths. Check, please.

SUITS YOU, SIR The clientele is what you would expect for a CBD bar on a Thursday night. Suits and more suits, with a smattering of hotel guests mixed in, due to the whole in-a-hotel thang. And wait, we recognise the aftershave that the guy who spends the whole night with his elbows on the bar, facing into the room, staring at every female in the place is wearing… it’s… is it… it’s Paco Rabanne’s Douche, isn’t it? Some people know that a dark bar is the only place they’ll have half a chance of having a good night**.

LAYING SOME LONG DISTANCE CABLE: If you need to go to the toilet at Marble Bar, best to start walking about half an hour before you last went. Situated outside of the bar proper through a rabbit warren of halls and stairs, this could really work if there was some kind of a glamour pay-off at the other end. There isn't. You are automatically brought back to the real world and the fact you’re in a hotel. What makes this worse is that it could be any average hotel, not the Hilton. We suddenly feel anxious that we’ve blacked out and woken up at a conference without any highlighters, inane chit-chat or getting-to-know-you trust games. The bathrooms, readers, are meh.

There are no extra touches to enhance the experience inside the bathrooms. Where are our nice hand towels and scented soaps? As Lorin noted, “If you can afford a creepy kid in a hole, you can afford f*cking hand towels”. We think Lucia said it best “Single ply? Nice try.” Worse still, we had to fix the soap dispenser and the cleaners had just been in there. Yeah, that’s right. We go places. We fix stuff. We’re like your neighbourhood handy-ninjas.
This is the forgotten corner of a 5 star hotel. It is the Kevin McCallister of amenities. Look it up.

ON THE ROCKS The menu at Marble Bar is extensive and appropriately sectioned, with pages titled ‘Classic Cocktails’ (including a Sazerac – first made in 1793 and strained into an absinthe-coated brandy balloon, if you please), ‘Premium Classics’ (where an old-fashioned is thirty bucks), ‘Twisted Classics’ (like a lychee and rose martini), ‘Tall’, ‘Sparkling’, Sour’, and a whole page each of Martinis and Whiskeys. There is also a whole page each for fifteen different pictures of paintings of bottoms.

We counted the bottoms. And now you love us more.
The wine list, although fairly small, is really quite great. Everything is local except for the champagne - exactly how it should be for a flagship hotel. Bottles range from the affordable up to the ridiculous so they have tried to cater for everyone, including Douche-Face McSuiterson at the bar there.

Bar snacks, from the nutty to the substantial, are available and pricy – from a ten dollar bowl of nuts to $28 for lamb cutlets. We didn’t eat while we were there, but we did smell other people’s food, which made its way down from the hotel, and it smelled incredible. We know, we know. We shouldn’t smell other people’s food, but once you’ve bruised your knee on a carved tit it’s in for a penny, in for a pound.

DRINKY DRINKY: LORIN Vodka & Dry. While the alcohol on offer in this place is obviously good, I still would like to be asked which brand I would prefer. I know that sounds fussy, but alcohol is the one area of my life where I actually am. Wow, I just re-read that and it’s really quite sad. John our barman didn’t ask. He poured and he poured me a Stolichnaya... for those of you playing at home, this is my least favourite of the vodkas. Jo on the other hand was automatically given Tanqueray. Half a win for John. My dry ginger ale was flat, I also didn’t get a garnish. It’s really quite simple, just add fresh lime to everything and you’re bound to win. Not so happy with my standard.
Yeah, arranging yourself symmetrically doesn't make it right, y'know.

Drink two- It’s at this point I usually like to ask the bar tender to suggest a cocktail for me. It gives them a chance to flex their tending muscles and impress, and also saves me trawling through the 50 page menu. I’m lazy, you should already know that about me. John asked if I like sweet or sour- check, I said sour, he suggested a margarita. Dude, you have an extensive list of some impressive drinks and you go to a margie? Too standard, John, come on. He then suggested the Zaitochi. My ears pricked up a little here. Smirnoff, ginger liquor, cucumber, lemon and wasabi. DING DING DING DING. Oh John, just when I had written you off you go and TOTALLY REDEEM YOURSELF. Holy mother of god, it is good. It is a perfect balance of flavours, just sour enough with the wasabi adding only a subtle but awesome kick. I win life.


DRINKY DRINKY: JO For my standard, a gin and tonic, I was in the loo at ordering time, so Lorin had time to order my drink, pay, take notes, get a mani/pedi and re-type the bible. Those bitches are FAR AWAY. When I got back I found an extremely average, yet plentiful, gin and tonic, with a pretty good gin/tonic/ice ratio and a tiny slice of lime shaved from the side of a midget lime’s pet lime. I can’t really explain why, but I hated the glass. This is a bar that seemingly sources its décor directly from God’s most intricately carved and favourite testicle, and its standard drink glassware from a two dollar shop on a train line.

They had a two-for-one special on glasses and laminex tables.

For my cocktail, I steered away from my normal martini fetish, as my tastes, unlike my ability to draw a cock n’ balls in every inflight magazine I see, have reached a little maturity over the last couple of years. I chose an Old Fashioned (rye whisky, bitters, sugar, soda, and a great wodge of fragrant orange rind), and due to the massive variety available at Marble Bar, asked barkeep John to delight me. He totally came through.
The only thing old fashioned about this is my PANTS or something.

In a gorgeous, satisfyingly palm-weighting glass, he presented a beautiful, sexy, hair-on-chest drink that would smoke a cigar and objectify boobs if it could. I was excited to drink it. I was chucked under the chin by its strength. I was upset when it was gone.




DRINKY DRINKY: LUCIA Not bound by the conventions/neck-albatrosses of bar reviewing, Lucia went sweet and chose a Wizard Of Oz to start (sparkling wine with raspberry & vanilla) and an Island Sweet for her main meal (vodka, gin, tequila, white rum, Cointreau, lemon & lime juice topped with Vanilla Coke). She really, really should have been drunker, but it just made her more adorable. Granted, she started off the night with a comment about historical sodomy, so the only way was up, sure.

Mmmmm. Sodomy.

I'm amdorables, wheeeeeee

The Marble bar kind of confuses us. Visually it wants to be pretentious but then it tries to be middle ground and accessible to everyone. It’s a bit like Paris Hilton – it looks fancy, but doesn’t follow through with enough substance and usually has too many blokes inside it. It was good, but given the choices available in Sydney, there’s probably not any reason for us to go back. Except maybe for the thrash metal, obviously.

We’re giving it 2 and a quarter carved wooden tits out of five.



Sunday, December 12, 2010

Pocket Bar

13 Burton St, Darlinghurst

Let’s be honest, we’re slack tarts and we haven’t been keeping abreast of our drinking agenda. Frankly, we’ve been a bit slack keeping a-drink of our breasting agenda, too, but that’s not really information for here. What with trips to the Middle East, insane work and social schedules and basking in the novelty of drinking without critiquing every element, we lost sight of game. Eyes on the prize girls, rookie mistake! So we’re back and we’re happy to be here. Thanks for having us. If you need to be reminded of the aforementioned agenda, check it here. If you need to be reminded of the reason the internet is a scary and amazing place, an example is waiting for you here. Apologies in advance.

SWINGIN’ LIKE A GATE First stop back on the 52 Pickup train was Pocket Bar in Darlinghurst, with our friends and imbibing compadres Babs, Butters, Court and Mark, and what a stop it was. One of us had been there a number of times before (hint: martinis were consumed and swear-words were used), but for the other it was a spankin’ new experience. Pocket is a wee little place (that has its own little wee place, but more of that later) recognizable by its charmingly weathered, swirly metal gate at one end. We’re just going to put it out there: we love a gate. They’re like doors with holes in them.
The decor is what we’d describe as “grunge chic” – graffiti-esque Pop art splashed all over the walls, dark lounges your grandma could crochet comfortably in, a changing gallery of photographs, exposed industrial vents and a bit of nerdy science paraphernalia thrown in for good measure.
They also have lightbulbs.
 We were instantly comfortable, huddled luxuriously on our lounges around our table at the rear end of the bar, surrounded by clusters of other mismatched, ornate furniture which thin out at the front of the room to make way for higher, stooled ledges and a clutch of seats at the bar. Lorin looked particularly relaxed (and uncharacteristically imposing) on her throne, whereas I was afforded a boys-eye view of a big pair of black and white boobs.

Like a queen with a boob-halo, is Lorin.

In fact, a good way to direct someone to this place would be to say “walk down Crown St from Oxford until you see a bunch of relaxed people drinking – if there’s boobs on the wall, you’re in the right place”. This might only be a problem if the person kept walking until William St, where I imagine wall-boobs are a little more commonplace.

YOUR SERVE, BATMAN. The mix of highbrow furniture and lowbrow decoration was pleasingly echoed in the service we received – casual, but attentive and top-notch. Pocket offers the lovely surprise of table service. An awesome trend that we are discovering on our little alcoholic odyssey is that cool and casual does not mean that service will be compromised. Our waitress, christened Faye but referred to on our bar bill as Batman, (hello, awesome) may be our new best friend. Sitting down, offering water, chatting with us and actually listening to what we wanted to drink, this woman was good people. The fact that the onesie playsuit she was wearing turned out in conversation to be just one of a large internationally-amassed collection didn’t hurt, neither – EVERYBODY LOVES A ONESIE. They’re like two pieces of clothing, but not. Genius.
Batman's service is so fast she's a blur. Nothing to do with photography skills. Cough.
Even when Batman twigged that we were writing a bar review (subtlety not being our strong point ever), she was entirely cool about it, and suggested drinks we should try to get a good idea of the bar’s strengths. She also asked us to ignore the spelling errors in the menu (which is being re-printed, apparently), which is a bit like asking Justin Bieber to not be a flicky-haired prat, but no harm done. Another staff member came over and offered us a take-home version of the otherwise leather-clad menu. Take-home representations of booze and boobs? Win. Score. Bonus. The drink menu was varied and top-notch, containing classics, slightly twisted classics, and some intriguing originals. There are a number of martini varieties like watermelon, rose petal and espresso, and more intriguing concoctions like the raspberry mojito or the Aperol sour. House spirits are a cut above the average, too – a fact proudly announced and rapidly consumed. With the quality of alcohol behind the bar, we think you’d have to be a blind amputee not to hit gold with that collection. And keep your guide dog away from the straw.
Food is also available at Pocket, and they’re best known for their crepes (amongst other smaller snacky things and good-value cheese platters), but we were there to drink. File that fact under ‘Surprises Tantamount To Finding Out Ricky Martin Is Gay’.

"What will it be, ladies?" Ricky Martin: "No thanks". 
PEOPLE AND PEE-HOLES Clientele was a relaxing mix of mild hipsters, a handful of unexpected suits, after-work locals and one midget. There was a refreshing absence of bullshit or pompous pretence, as everyone just seemed to be concentrating on putting lovely things into their mouths and pushing pleasant conversation out of them. The bar filled up quickly, as is the way with Sydney’s recent flourish of smaller, more intimate venues, but happily there were enough toilets to cater for everyone. We’ll happily queue for tickets to see James Franco’s bottom, but not to hover our own over the porcelain facilities. The loos are unisex, and clustered around a curtained-off area, each cubicle being equipped with its own mirror and hand-basin, which we spastically love. The ability to complete one’s regular ablutions from start to finish in total privacy is a classy touch, lessened only marginally by the fact that one might have entered a cubicle in which the previous occupant has left the seat up. Unisex: 0. Checking you don’t have a bat in the cave without anyone seeing: 1.
Happily for you, I only took a shot of the ceiling in the toilets. You’re welcome.

Think yourself lucky I didn't turn the camera around.
BEAT ME DADDY, EIGHT TO THE BAR The music in Pocket was an eclectic mix, starting on the dubby side of life and moving swiftly and rapaciously through decades, skimming Hank Williams, Etta James, the Beach Boys, Kanye and Winehouse on its way past. We were impressed, because it was the clear aim of the music to not seem like it was trying to impress anyone. We were equally impressed with the fact that table numbers in this place are just playing cards on little stands. Cute much, unnecessary but deliciously quirky tiny detail?!

DRINKY DRINKY: LORIN When Batman asked what I would like and I said Vodka Dry, her immediate response was “with fresh lime, yeah?”. Tick. Although I didn’t get asked what kind of Vodka I would like, this bar does not stock crap produce so why ask? It was a good mix and the dry was ridiculously fresh... as fresh as soft drink can be I guess. I totally just rapped.

Yes you did, L-Dawg. Yes you did.
While the menu is awesome, I didn’t really know what I wanted for my second drink. I asked Batman if she had any suggestions and was met with the following questions: What types of alcohol do you like? Do you like it sweet or sour? Long or short?
She then thought for a while and came up with the El Diablo, a nice little mix of tequila, ginger beer, creme de cassis and half a lime. While quite strong on the tequila, it made me fuzzy and happy. It wasn’t on the menu, but the woman identified my needs and met them. I think that’s grounds for marriage.

I now pronounce you drink and wife.

DRINKY DRINKY: JO My standard gin and tonic was excellent – a good size, saliva-inducingly fresh, and with a generous slab of lime, squeezed like python’s prey.

Python, Jo. Not Cougar.

 My first cocktail was a Mr Pink, ordered because of its gin base, interesting mix of ingredients, and my enduring affection for Steve Buscemi. With a double shot of Tanqueray, pink grapefruit juice, rosemary syrup, OJ bitter, lime and sparkling water, it was very tall, very tart and very generous. At first it was a little fruit-punch cordial for my taste, but then it slapped me on the epiglottis and left a sharp ginny afterglow.

I followed up with my most prominent fixation, a dirty gin martini. This. Place. Rocks. A Martini. Deep, cold, hazy, and with the best-tasting fat piggy olives in a long time. Slurp.



Two of our companions were drinking wine, but Babs, in between taking some gorgeous photos for us (the ones we took ourselves are easy to pick – they’re the crap ones), ordered himself a 5 O’Clock Shadow, made of Hendricks gin, rose water, lemon juice and sugar syrup. Despite Court’s announcement that it “looked like a penis floating in cum” (please note that we’d already discussed ocular syphilis at this stage), it easily took the title of cocktail of the night. It was a game of two halves, full credit to the bar staff, but this was the winner on the day.

Thanks for making the penis comparison just a little more awkward, Babs.
While the coolness factor of the place can at times feel a bit forced, staff members named Batman and Catwoman put you at ease and make sure you’re looked after. Drinking here is like listening to an excellent symphony orchestra that has just one bassoon out of tune, but it’s a little gem of a pocket in the wall to which we will happily return.

We’re giving it three-and-three-quarter little playing cards on stands out of five.