One of the most enjoyable aspects of 2012 has been the plethora of great bars I’ve discovered this year. Being fortunate enough to travel to Melbourne regularly means I get to experience the yardstick city when it comes to drinking holes in Australia, but this Sydney has had a red hot go, with some fabulous new places emerging. The last place one would expect contenders for a “really-great-new-bar-2012” award is Manly, but a couple of nights ago Mrs BotF, another couple and I visited the newest addition to the Hotel Steyne – Blacket’s. What a place. 2012 has seen the Hotel Steyne make a complete metamorphis from a beer soaked and often blood soaked pub to a multi-faceted venue which looks as good as any pub or bar can. With its unrivalled position facing both onto Manly Beach and onto the Corso, and now a variety of options inside, you’ve got one of Sydney’s great venues.
To get to Blacket’s you go up two flights of stairs and instead of turning right and heading to the equally impressive Moonshine Bar, you turn left and walk along a small veranda before entering a bar that simply takes you back in time. The fit-out is superb. Exposed brickword, frameless arched windows, leather booths, baggage rails and pressed metal that is usually used on ceilings is used on walls. It’s just a wonderful place to sit and drink. Blacket’s is named for Edmund Blacket, an Australian architect that was responsible for many of Sydney’s finest buildings and churches. My colleague on the night, Ferg, had of course heard of Edmund Blacket and knew of his most famous works – the Great Hall at Sydney University for example. What we didn’t know was his connection to Manly and that he was responsible for designing the first two versions of the Hotel Steyne. A fantastic essay entitled “Manly Beach and the Blacket Connection” by Shelagh and George Champion provides some of the background. The first version burnt down in 1863, and I’m not sure what happened to the second, but the third is still impressive – both inside and out.
The staff are thrilled to be working in such a joint. Blacket’s aims to provide “Fine Spirits and Ales”. Mrs BotF and Mrs Ferg were smoothly upsold from their glass of champagne to a champagne cocktail enhanced with St.Germain – an elderflower liqueur. they were very happy. No upselling required for me, however, with such a fine tap list available. A 4 Pines seasonal, a Moa Imperial Stout, Coopers Vintage and Stone & Wood Garden Ale were all available – but I opted for the Ekim Brewingh Co‘s Dark Viking Ale. Ekim Brewing Co is another Northern Beaches brewer who brews in conjunction with Happy Goblin. His beers are strong and flavoursome, and this is no exception. Looking forward to seeing more of this.
Whilst I almost always go the tap if there is tap beer available – I noticed in the fridge a can of Australian Brewery‘s Motherlode. Now I’ve had the Motherlode at Harts Pub off the tap and I’ve been a fan. It’s an English Bitter, but with a great 6% kick. What I can’t believe is that it is in a can. A quick perusal of Untappd indicates that the canned version is a couple of months old – but I didn’t think a craft brewer canned – not in Australia anyway. The other thing is that the can shape is more a red bull shape than a traditionally more squat beer can. No matter, the Motherlode is great once decanted. First Australian craft beer in a can – maybe.