Small bars are popping up left, right, north, south, east and west in Sydney, and while we’re a far cry from the easy cool of Melbourne, Sydney sure is doing her best. The beauty of the small bar is that they’re so uniquely different to the Sports Bar and a far cry from the throbbing mass of night clubs in the Cross and surrounding Darling Harbour. Don’t get me wrong, in true woo-girl style, I love tearing up the dance floor with all the enthusiasm and grace of a Bodystep newbie. But if you want to have a good chat about something that can’t be discussed by shouting over the latest top 40 hit, head to a small bar. Our latest venture was to the not-so-new-but-still-delightfully-trendy Rabbit Hole.
Conveniently located literally across the road from Martin Place train station, Rabbit Hole is signposted by a tiny sign with their logo (rabbit ears sticking out of a top hat) hanging inconspicuously outside 82 Elizabeth Street. In fact, the entire bar is below street level, so unless you’re sharp it’s easy to miss. Once inside, the spiral staircase leads down to a pleasantly lit, surprisingly roomy bar. We sat in the front section as the back had been booked for a function.
Tastefully decorated and perfectly subtle, Rabbit Hole hints at it’s theme without straying into kitsch territory. The gold wallpaper is covered in golden trees and there are candles in tea cups on every table. Aside from a whimsically hung bike and a few disguised rabbits around the place, that’s pretty much it.
The well stocked bar has pride of place and it’s here where the real fun begins. On Tuesdays they have $2 “Top 5 in the World” Wagyu Beef Sliders and on Wednesdays, they wear pink. Ok that last bit is a lie. On Wednesdays the Rabbit Hole has a very impressive selection of 241 Cocktails. A friend and I arrived first and decided to be restrained and order almost everything.
I started with “Life is Peachy”, a foray into whiskey that I did not regret. I could have quite happily have drunk this all night! Served in a user-friendly (I am notoriously clumsy at the best of times!) short glass, the complexity of caramelised, grilled peach muddled with Marker’s Mark bourbon and Joseph Cartron creme de peche, were perfectly balanced with lemon and a dash of demerara syrup. Lined with Fee Brother’s West Indian orange bitters and finished with a twist of orange rind, life was looking very peachy indeed!
To complete this 241 deal, my drinking buddy had The White Cloud above Mt Gay. With a double pour of Mt Gay XO (rum) shaken with house-made black pepper and pineapple caramel, fresh lime and pineapple, the concoction is then poured through marshmallow foam which gives it a distinctive white cloud on top. It is apparently finished off with shaved coconut, but ours had a sprinkling of pink and was served in a Martini glass. James Bond, eat your heart out. If I thought my Life is Peachy was a flavour explosion, it had nothing on The White Cloud above Mt Gay! Delicious!
By this time, a few more Comrades had rallied to the 241 cocktail cause. The Breakfast Bouquet was ordered in tandem with another The White Cloud above Mt Gay. I’m not a huge fan of floral flavours, but even I could appreciate the mix of Larios gin and Joseph Cartron creme de cassis, shaken with house-made strawberry and rose jam, wild willow water and fresh lemon. A dash of rhubarb bitters finished off the flavours and the result was served in a Martini Glass, topped with an edible pansy.
Making our way down the cocktail list, we finally arrived at the spirit everyone has a love/hate relationship with: tequila. That most loved, but also most regretted liquor. The You’ve Gone Nuts cocktail is aptly named because it is ridiculously drinkable. I’d have to say this was my favourite cocktail, and that’s not just because it arrived with gold-dusted chocolate bark. The Rabbit Hole describes this beauty as “Tonka bean infused Sierra Millenario Gran Anejo tequila is shaken with Disaronno amaretto, lemon and our house-made peanut and cashew syrup. This drink is finished with Fee Brother’s Walnut bitters and fine strained into a nutty cocktail glass.” Incredible. The amaretto isn’t overpowering, as I often find in amaretto sours, but just strong enough to let the peanut and cashew syrup shine through. Life is Peachy had been usurped at the 11th hour by You’ve Gone Nuts!
The final cocktail we dived into before happy hour expired was the New + Old School Sparkling Cocktail. Compared to You’ve Gone Nuts, I found this cocktail a little underwhelming, but it was still drinkable. Spherified Cointreau Caviar floats through Remy Martin VSOP, orange bitters, demerara syrup and Jansz NV. The bubbles make this cocktail easy to savor and if you’re a fan of bubble tea, you’ll love the Spherified Cointreau Caviar. It’s quite literally caviar-sized Cointreau jelly balls.
None of us were brave enough to try the Kraken’s Prey (squid ink lining the glass seemed like a brave move) but Rabbit Hole’s track record has me willing to bet it’s a winner. We’d all had the G&T Jelly Shot at a friend’s party and the sheer novelty would have us going back. Think a refreshing G&T, served inside a giant jelly casing, not dissimilar to the Spherified Cointreau Caviar mentioned above. Quite a strange sensation to find your mouth suddenly filled with Gin and Tonic, but delicious none the less! The Ay Caramba also lived to see another day. With a combination of Sierra Millenario Blanco, Yellow Chartreuse, lime, piquillio pepper, agave nectar, corriander and white pepper, this cocktail surely demands a return!
82 Elizabeth St