Andy Zito, New York (US), April 2011

Thanks to Ms Darlinghurst’s recommendation, we decided to visit 4143 at the James Barnes, a new gastro pub in the middle of Alexandria’s industrial estate. Puzzled as to how this sort of establishment would flourish within a quiet field of factories, we were a little disappointed to have our fears confirmed. You had more than enough choice for tables inside and outside for a Saturday night. We Sydneysiders are never happy are we? We complain when the crowd at the bar is 4 people deep and also complain when there aren’t enough people to create a buzz. Despite the quietness, the establishment is a good mix between a pub and a slick bar. Keeping part of the old brick facade, there is glass everywhere, including overhead which means you can still enjoy that last bit of evening light from the inside. The Spring menu is a little simpler than Ms Darlinghurst’s feast, but we’d still call it decent pub grub. With impending new apartments across the road, hopefully this beautiful space will make it til the throngs settle in. I’m definitely up for another visit, but finding a cab home isn’t such an easy task. Have to befriend those designated drivers!

Onto something completely different. I love the internet. I love that you can see beautiful things that you would have otherwise never been able to experience. I saw this inspiring visual feast today and thought you’d love it too. Thanks Sophie Windsor Clive.

Murmuration from Sophie Windsor Clive on Vimeo.

A cocktail at the 4143 at the James Barnes

The inside bar

Shake 558: Fifties Fridays

October 15, 2011

The Drinking Buddy, San Francisco (US), July 2011

It's like a little enticing island

Everyone knows that I never want to go far for a tipple on a Friday night (especially my drinking buddy); after an exhausting week, attempting to venture halfway across town isn’t appealing. And why venture out when the local offerings just keep getting better? Hinky Dinks is the cute little American retro-styled bar that’s just opened its doors. When you seat yourself on a cosy little banquette and you’re welcomed with a retro red and white striped cup of tasty popcorn, you know it’s going to be a good night! The black and white tiles, the formica benchtops, piano stools and the green walls are just so refreshing compared to the usual dark, sleek look everyone is going for. To sweeten the deal even more, they’re serving some refined cocktails and when you discover that the talent behind the bar are ex-Longrain, no one is surprised.

My local scene has just become a little more hip!

Hinky Dinks: 185 Darlinghurst Road, Darlinghurst (opposite the fire station)

Shake 307: MSG

February 6, 2011

Jess, Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), Aug 2010

The drawcard for me to Ms. G’s was the ‘kimchi mayonnaise’ rather than the baby fried chicken it was being served up with. When a restaurant boasts ‘asian fusion’, it rarely ever includes Korean, so I was interested to see how well the kimchi would socialise with the banh mi rolls and the XO sauce. With Chinese New Year upon us, we popped into Merivale’s latest hip 5- level project ready to be impressed with the extravagant Hemmes charm. You put your name down at the level 3 entrance and then have to squeeze past diners and others who seem to be randomly climbing the stairs. Does anyone else think it’s strange to have the bar on level 5?

The thirsty Young’n had a crazy week so we dived directly into their paddle of 6 – delightful shochu-based fruity shots. These were followed by the Vietnamese steak tartare served with prawn crackers, the braised duck with XO sauce egg noodles, then pork belly on noodles in chilli broth and of course, the baby fried chicken with kimchi mayo. And that was it. Sadly, the mayo with a hint of kimchi was the extent of Korea’s representation on the menu. I can’t deny I was a little disappointed.

The thought of ‘packaged’ cocktails didn’t appeal (pre-made cocktails, shrink-wrapped and served in a plastic cup, much like those Asian bubble tea drinks), so we dived into the ‘unpackaged’. My oriental ‘Ocean’ Mary containing gherkins and seaweed wasn’t as fun as I’d envisaged, but my favourite drinking buddy Jess thoroughly enjoyed her Choya plum wine cobbler and the Young’n was impressed with the aloe vera concoction.

With a hip, grunge feel, the place is jam packed with equally hip young things, including celebrities. It’s a place for those with large wallets but small stomachs, and I’m not sure I fit into that category! Worth a visit, but maybe not on a heaving weekend… and maybe after having had a large lunch.

Ms. G's 6 shot paddle

Glendalicious and RC, is this from you?

Barcelona (Spain), year?

Does anyone remember anything particularly special about cabs in Barcelona? I certainly can’t. There must be something in it though – it’s celebrated so beautifully in this dome. The chill was setting in when Lea and I were in Barcelona years ago. I was keen to get on the drink one night, so we rugged up in search of a bar called L’Ovella Negra on Emski’s recommendation. We wandered some dark, totally deserted back streets and had all but given up when we stumbled upon its front door. And when we opened these doors, it was like all of Barcelona was partying in this warm, hidden den!

Shake 181: Taste testing

October 3, 2010

Jeff, Osaka (Japan), Feb 2010

Our favourite cocktail connoisseur, LL Wine and Dine’s Ricky was good enough to give us a sneak peek and taste of one of his yet unnamed cocktail soon to be featured on his new summer menu. Let’s just say it’s adventurous, green and has a bit of summer heat! We LOVE. Are you ready for a little Summer? I certainly am. Come and join me for a couple because…. I am officially on holiday!

Shake 159: Learning to fly

September 11, 2010

Jess, Cotswald (UK), Nov 2009

Every gal loves a bar with waiters that aren’t unpleasant to look at. LL Wine and Dine in the very up and coming laneway of Llankelly Place presents some fine looking wait staff. Luckily they back this up with an eclectic “Hong Kong-style” cozy interior, tasty tapas with an Asian edge and a cocktail list that was hard to fault (we know, we made our way through most of the menu). The Single Gal was thoroughly delighted by the zing of the Ginger and Lychee Martini. The Young’n batted his eyelids while asking the attentive waiter’s recommendation, and finally settled on a LL Cool Sling (Barcardi8 with fresh lime, pineapple and orange juice with passionfruit and a dash of vanilla). My favourite was the sumptuous Chee Chee Mule (lychees and limes muddled then shaken with 42 Below vodka and lychee juice topped with ginger beer and a hint of cinnamon).

We had an adventurous night hopping through the colourful end of Sydney, but I also came away with a lesson: I am NOT a good wingman. I am NOT good at reading signals. During our extensive debrief over a hot dog at Harry’s Cafe de Wheels, my new education began. Lesson 101? A code phrase. Why has no one taught me the subtleties of this job?

Lados, somewhere in the US, but when?

The view from the top

With the change of liquor licensing laws in Sydney, tiny little bars are popping up everywhere. Tonight’s soiree was at the aptly named Pocket Bar. In this little dungeon-like space in a part of Sydney’s hip and happening laneway, it’s a mismatcher’s heaven: a mix of odd arm chairs and high bar stools, coffee tables and communal tables, ‘beautiful’ people and us, all framed by artwork on the walls for sale. Oddly charming.

I would love to tell you how good the cocktails were and how warming the wine was, but my dedication to Dry July meant that only lemon, lime and bitters touched these lips, even though Jade tried to tempt me by waving a beautiful glass of red before his face so he could savour the sweet aroma and show me what I was missing out on. The company was enough to make up for it though, the Lados are just… cool (except the craziest Lado was absent tonight, so it was a mismatch of other sorts as well). And their coolness goes up a notch after holidays because they always come back with awesome domes and crazy travel tales (like how a snowdome had to be left behind because of liquid restrictions in carry-on luggage!!!). My dome-count this month is skyrocketing!

Diem, Melbourne (Australia), Year?

We sipped a couple of cocktails last night at my post-work waterhole of choice – Eau De Vie in the bowels of the Kirketon. I’ve always loved this spot, it used to be Fix many, many moons ago which was the smallest bar you could find – long before the recent change in licensing laws leading to a plethora of small establishments popping up everywhere. I can proudly say that Fix was my favourite bar in Sydney until it closed its doors. Ever since then, it’s seen a rapid change of owners without much success, which was a little disheartening, but this new crowd seem like they’re driving this curse away.

Eau De Vie has that dark Melbournesque feel, a gorgeous long bar table and a mix of comfy booths and lounges. It’s hidden nature also means you don’t have to squeeze in too hard with the rest of the Friday nighters. The menu has a good list of classic and interesting cocktails plus boutique beers, preceded by a menu of the actual wait staff… not that you can choose your waiter or anything… or maybe you can?

Our company were adventurous when it came to sampling: The Wine Connoisseur left behind her wines for the night – her last was the most memorable: a dark earth coloured, surprisingly clear, sweet cocktail served with a large square of Lindt chocolate on the side. The Entrepreneur’s ‘Grounds for Divorce’ was a strange and heavy concoction of whisky and other things I can’t remember, arriving in what looked very much like a beer bottle and took at least two rounds of drinks to complete. The conversation randomly turned to Space Food Sticks and the days of ‘Little Lunch’ – something that I hadn’t thought of in years. I’m now obsesssed with this idea. Bring back Little Lunch I say! As suggested by the Entrepreneur, I’m taking a bell into work next week for a revival.

Last night reminded me of our city down South, so today’s dome is an ode to Melbourne. Do you know that I have five copies of this dome? Each given to me by a different person, I love them all and I have to make a confession: I purchased the fifth one! Does that make me crazy? My sisters purchased the fourth one on their road trip to Adelaide, but I’m missing contributors 2 and 3. Lemme know if this was you!

Today's latte art

I’m slowly getting there with the hearts. Gotta perfect those trees.

Kelvin, Philippines, 2009

It was a sweet combination of old and new last night. Our old favourites – duck ragu, vongole and arrabiata from Il Baretto were calling us, but before we could start twirling the forks, our arrabiata-lover led us down the laneway to the old Cafe Nikki site for something new. Last year, the Il Baretto crowd opened up this gorgeous little wine bar called Fico (to appease the ravenous queue no doubt). It’s on the quieter end of Bourke among the terraces, the windows are heavily draped over, enough that you wouldn’t even think it was there, but once you enter through the black door on the side, it’s a new world: super cosy, cow-hide ottomans and a waiter very well versed in Italian wine. I am definitely going back.

Back to the domes. An old friend of mine, who we’ll just name D, was seconded to the Philippines for six months last year. I was eager for his return – there was high potential for my first dome from the land of sweet and salty combos, but he returned with naught declaring that there were no domes to be had. Shall we just let the picture speak for itself? No. I need to mention that this is ONE in what they have called ‘The Filipina SERIES’. Kelvin, my new friend, you outdid yourself!