I’m a sucker for the hype occasionally, and the Scout Sydney team has been bringing it. I think I saw a sign on a local bus shelter. I saw an article in Time Out Sydney before it had opened its doors. I’ve seen it on Facebook. And the idea seems exciting to me: take one of the world’s best mixologists and give him his own space in my neighbourhood and see what happens. Oh, and they take reservations which for a bar, I think, is sort of crazy. I wasn’t sure what to expect.
Super-amusing is this wooden box they’ve built to block off the stairs to this intimate space on the top floor of the Dolphin Hotel. I’m not sure if I’ve ever been all the way up there before. It is like a treehouse entrance perhaps, or a boy scout’s secret hideaway.
We arrived early, though we made a reservation, and were served drinks by a succesion of young men, mostly European. It was dead quiet but slowly filling up and we were assured it would be packed later on. It’s dark and intimate with well-placed lighting and an impressive large fake treet in the middle (carrying on with the treehouse theme).
An amuse-bouche with watermelon and nori was a taste of what was to come, as the flavours were slightly strange together but made you ask: do they work?
The cocktail menu is, as I’d hoped, inviting, though what kind of cocktails would they be? We learned with our first round. It’s all about flavours and flavour combinations. The stamped ice is amusing and large size of the cubes, and with each of the drinks there was a visible garnish. But there’s something clean and direct about these cocktails, visually and texturally.
The trick is the ingredients. These are the cocktails we had:
Avo on Toast: 666 Butter, Avocado, Brioche’d Prosecco, Orange Wine, Coffee Oil, Isolated Lychee Tannin.
Cane Toad: Guava, Blended Rum, Muyu Vetiver Gris, Bunya Nut, Verjus
Death Myrtle: Calvados, Cinnamon Myrtle, Burrata Whey, Overnight Apple.
Green Negroni: Tanqueray, Melon Quinine, Peach Leaf/Stone/Fruit Vermouth.
All of them were $22 each. And while this is certainly not cheap, it doesn’t seem to be more expensive than the other high-end cocktail bars in Sydney. If you’re prepared for the prices, you can settle down and enjoy yourself.
Apparently, Avo on Toast (photo second above) isn’t for everyone, and I just couldn’t taste the avocado. But I DID taste coffee and a slightly burned toast and butter. The overall effect was breakfast in a cocktail, and I liked it.
My pal Trevor thought his Cane Toad (photo at the top) was better though. It had a wonderful strong guava flavour. Delicious.
He also preferred his Death Myrtle (photo above) to my Green Negroni (photo below), and the combo of cinnamon and apple and calvados was lovely.
I’m a huge negroni fan. So, why not switch it up? This was light and vegetal, almost more savoury then sweet, and a contrast to the heavy, powerful punch of a regular negroni. I liked it.
In any case, if you like cocktails, I’d definitely recommend a visit. I think it would also impress out-of-town visitors and those of your loved ones who like bright and shiny objects.