An unlikely area of Sydney that has benefitted from the introduction of small bars is the pocket west of Wynyard and north of King Street. This formerly drab part of town has also seen the development of a large number of corporate offices, so the number of parched throats seeking oral irrigation (copyright C Dickthorpe) on their way to a bus or train has increased substantially.
There’s still a large number of quite ordinary bars under office blocks that benefit from the sheer inertia of workers. Many use the excuse “Look I’ll pop down for a couple and then get back to my desk” – and are then surprised at the call of last drinks. Settlement Bar aka Sedimet, the Office Hotel aka Orifice and the City Hotel aka the Shitty are classic examples of pubs you’d never be seen dead in on a weekend, that heave on a week-night. The Orifice does particularly well due to having the largest indoor/outdoor smoking space in Sydney and could rightly claim to be the new Ashtray of the CBD.
How massively these bars contrast against the new arrivals that have particulary centred around the Erskine and Kent junction. The trail-blazing Small Bar has been joined by Balcony Bar, the Fox Hole and the latest arrival – Shirt Bar. I visited Shirt Bar and was surprised at how niche a bar can get. Gin Palace in Melbourne is an original small bar with a niche. They don’t compare with the nicheiness of the Shirt Bar. This bar sells Scotch by the dozens, shirts and two beers. As you can see from the photo, the menu is also very specific – cold cuts and cheese. Now this correspondent is not noted for an outlay on shirts or his consumption of Scotch so this isn’t a magnetic place for me. I’m sure that some would love to sip a glenlivet (probably like Bond 7 for these blokes) whilst perusing the latest vertical stripe combo from Ganton (probably like van Heusen for these blokes) but that ain’t me. The two beers the Shirt Bar has available are Peroni and Peroni Leggera – but I reckon that is under sufferance when blokes like me come in with a Saville Row type. I enjoyed my time at Shirt Bar and I liked looking at $100 shirts in the shade of $100+ Scotches – but I’ve ticked it off. I hope the Shirt Bar does well and it looks like they are, but we don’t have much in common. Diversity – it’s great.
Today’s unrelated beer review is brought to you by Brouwerij Huyghe, the brewer of one of the world’s most attractively packaged and named beers – Delirium Tremens. Unfortunately, the beer I tried was not a Delirium Tremens, but Floris Apple, which is one of 10 fruit beers made by these guys (Cactus and Ninkeberry are two of the other varieties). It’s been a while since I had this, but it a beer I’d give another crack, particularly when it’s hot. The overwhelming aromas of apple are confusing because despite the obvious indicators you are drinking an apple beer – you’re expecting beer. It is a beer and the aftertaste gives it away – but it is as sweet as a Spatlese Riesling. This would rival GI Lime cordial for sugar content. Still – in summer – have a go.