Late Night Shopping, Sydney style
Is it a shop? Is it a bar? Check out these Sydney hotspots on our mini bar crawl through 4 cool postcodes.
Earl's Juke Joint, Newtown.
Newtown has several vegetarian butchers, but you may fall short when looking for a lamb chop. Then one day, signs of activity were noticed in the old Betta Meats building on King Street. The butcher's signs were left hanging over the door and stained net curtains prevented us from having a sticky beak through the window, but we knew that something more than meat selling was going on there, and we wanted in.
It was a Thursday night when we visited. Firstly, we needed to negotiate our way past the brooding bouncer draped across the doorway on a nightly basis. Being seven feet tall seems to be a pre-requisite for working outside Earl's, but this giant was a friendly one, and on we stepped through the door.
Earl's is an old school jazz joint. Look up, and the original rusted tin butcher-shop ceiling remains, strangely in keeping with the rest of the décor. Mood lights dangle low over the long mahogany coloured bar and sepia photographs of musicians adorn the walls. The clientele consisted mostly of twosomes, making it the perfect place to catch up for a midweek date or chat with friends.
What to drink then? With all that jazz, I couldn't see past a Bourbon and the friendly barman (sporting this season's staple Newtown facial hair accessory; the waxed moustache) was happy to oblige, as well as providing two bowls of complimentary nuts. I had a Hobo Julep and my date ordered a Pride Dawg cocktail. Both were tasty, with a nice strong kick of alcohol. And the most old-school thing of all? They each cost a measly ten bucks. Win.
407 King Street, Newtown. Hours: Mon- Sat 4pm- midnight. Sunday 4-10pm
The Record Crate, Glebe Point Road.
No longer must we trek into the city for a record shop masquerading as a bar; this Glebe venue has it all. Downstairs is a brightly lit record store with long wooden table and beer crate stools outdoors, which is perfect for people watching. There's a dimly lit courtyard out the back, which is secluded and quiet, while the upstairs section is filled with vintage dining tables and frequently hosts live music. On a slight downside, we spotted one toilet- so maybe don't hold on for too long!
The staff are knowledgeable about their music and a classic Rolling Stones album plays in the background as we snack on a monstrous bowl of wedges and sip our James Squires (no Young Henry’s here people; 'Everybody else is doing it', we were told!). The total for 2 beers and wedges was a pretty standard $21. For a more substantial dinner, main courses range from $16 for an eggplant parmigiana to $25 for a fillet steak. On a street which has gone through something of a re-invention in recent months, the Record Crate is a welcome addition to the party.
34 Glebe Point Road. Hours : Sun- Weds 11am-10pm. Thurs/Fri 11am-12am. Sat 9.30am- 12am. Closed Monday.
The Barber Shop, Sydney.
It must be hard working in the city; all those busy office types trying to fit in a haircut while still maintaining a social life. This is where the Barber Shop comes in handy, where gentlemen can combine the two.
It was packed on Thursday night when we visited and a queue commonly forms along York street on Friday and Saturday nights, indicating the popularity of this new venture. The Barbers is a brightly lit shop facing the road, in which all patrons after 2pm receive a complimentary whiskey or other beverage. This is separated from the main bar by a steel door, functioning as much for hygiene as to create a barrier between male grooming and socialising.
The main bar's interior is colonial in style; ideally suited to the city location. The walls are painted in British Racing Green and random pieces of game (bison horns, a goat's head) are dotted around. The industrial looking ceiling, complete with tubes and ducts is a slightly odd contrast here, as is the dance music playing on the speakers.
Barber's shop services and drinks are listed on the same menu. The drinks selection is very gin- heavy, and there's even a tap which pours Plymouth Gin. Cocktails come in at around the $18 mark, with a more interesting selection than many CBD bars. We tried the highly recommended Blood and Bandages ($19), which was a mixture of Mezcal, cherry brandy, Campari,orange and lemon.
Queuing to stand at the bar surrounded by bankers on a night out might not be everyone's scene, but The Barber Shop is definitely a novel idea which beats the large CBD bar concept hands down.
89 York Street, Sydney. Hours: Barber Mon-Fri 10am-6pm, late Thurs-Fri. Bar: Mon-Fri 2pm- 12am, Sat 4pm-12am.
The Newsagency, Marrickville.
Walk down Enmore Road on any given night and you may see a crowd of people hanging around outside a hipster-looking live music venue. You'll need to be quick to get in though; the venue only has the capacity for 50 people.
The Newsagency was on my 'to-do' list for a long time, then a friend moved in upstairs (this is why we love the Inner West!). His flatmate is founder Alison Avron, a popular musician in her own right and founder of the Newsagency as a centre which aims to offer musicians a community led venue. It's one of the coolest places in Sydney at the moment for live music.
The interior is simple and a little grungy, channelling some of the best small venues in New York, sans gentrification. This renders it ideal for the Marrickville audience. It's only open for specific gigs (we saw Avron herself play, as she does several times yearly), and tickets sell out fast. It's exclusive, acoustic and has everybody's favourite feature- it's BYO. (The Victoria on the Park Hotel is across the road in case you forget to stock up!) Support live music in Sydney and check it out.
375 Enmore Rd., Marrickville. Check out gigs list for opening hours: http://www.stickytickets.com.au/thenewsagencyenmore.
- Suzanne Rath