The rugged slate of canvas that is Cockatoo Island has an energy that's unique to such an iconic piece of Sydney history. Mixing industry with creativity, the island has been home to convicts and shipbuilders alike, but these days it's a space for artists, day-trippers and urban campers.
veryone knows that getting drunk during the day is one of the best things about summer, and Zanzibar's recently relaunched rooftop bar provides the ideal setting for daytime drinking. While the 1950s backyard Australia-styled rooftop is the star of the show, Zanzibar is essentially three bars in one.
The Newington on Stanmore Road has been given a new lease of life; getting a fresh lick of paint and recently being re-launched as Public House Petersham – a funky space where the focus is on the community.
Taking someone who has just arrived back from Peru to a South American restaurant is a double-edged sword. They’re full of helpful advice, but they’re also a little, well, full of it. Luckily La Puerta’s Colombian owner Catherine Espinosa was there to step in: “We’ve taken our favourite dishes from the whole of South America and adapted them to the Australian palate.”
As the lift zoomed up to Level 36 of the swanky Shangri-la and I set foot into the New York-inspired Blu Bar, I was greeted by the image of the man who designed the 2014 official Oscars cocktail giving a fellow bartender a bollocking over a mishap with a whipped cream canister.
In the realm of adult soft drinks, richly red Sin-kō-nah Tonic Syrup [RRP: $24/200ml] is right up there, and what’s more, it’s Australian. In fact, owner Sarah Robins tells me, Sin-kō-nah “will soon be the only Australian-made tonic syrup as Blood Moon Tonic is closing down.” Expect a bittersweet edge from this drink, which contains about a third less sugar than other tonic waters.
Scratch beneath the hipster veneer and many venues come up lacking. Underlying kooky décor that includes a glowing sakura ceiling in the upper bar, and erotic shibari prints, Edison bulbs in birdcages and dangling autumnal leaves downstairs, is both clever architecture (courtesy of FJMT who did neighbouring Surry Hills Library) and a raison d’etre.
“It’s like meat butter,” my dining companion exclaims, gesturing with half a two-bite Cannolo alla Mortadella ($4/each) in her hand. It’s crude, but apt: the balsamic cannoli come rolled in pistachio and filled with imported Italian mortadella that has been fashioned into pâté.
It might give off a karaoke bar vibe from the outside, but descend into the depths of this basement bar and you'll be pleasantly surprised by the hipster-ific pizzeria that awaits you below street level.
Handsome bartenders spent a lot of time at my table, muddling, freezing and whirling smoke through a range of bespoke Japanese-inspired cocktails, when I imbibed, early in the piece, with three food media pals. Frozen using liquid nitrogen, into a pretty pink slushy, Kawaii Kisses ($19) with watermelon, T2 Just Rose tea, Belvedere vodka and sake, could well become the taste of Sydney summer.