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Thursday, December 08, 2011

Grandma's Bar, Sydney

grandma's bar

What's in a name? Everything, I say, especially if you get to say "Let's go to Grandma's!" with genuine enthusiasm on a Friday night.

I'd like to think that the proliferation of small bars in Sydney illustrates an appreciation for the quirky, independent business run on heart and soul, but is it also mandatory to make the bar as hard to find as possible? Is the secret entrance all about creating an air of exclusivity and accomplishment as you jauntily make your way down backstreet alleys and empty stairwells?

grandma's bar
Grandma's Bar in the basement, below The Guitar Lounge; and
the stuffed deer at the entrance to Grandma's

There's no on-street signage for Grandma's Bar. Everyone just looks for the guitar shop on Clarence Street which includes a view of the bar through the basement windows.

A stuffed and mounted deer wearing a baseball cap is the first sight that greets you on the stairs. Grandma is also a fan of toffee apples, judging by the stash on the staircase - we could have guessed she'd have a sweet tooth.

grandma's bar
Toffee apples

grandma's bar
Tiger beer in a brown paper bag; Grandma's bar area

The bar area downstairs is narrow and cosy, filled with an eclectic mix of mismatched lounges and chairs. We presume that Grandma doesn't approve of beer, sending out Mr Darcy's Tiger beer in a brown paper bag. She does enjoy a tipple however, with a comprehensive cocktail menu that includes detailed descriptions of each concoction.

cocktails at grandma's bar
Nuclear daiquiri $18; Match spring punch $17 and Basil grande $16

We head straight for the cocktail list, with Suze immediately lured by the potency of the nuclear dacquiri -- It's like three drinks in one! spruiks the bartender. Sold! says Suze. It's a potent mix of Wray & Nephew overproof rum, green chartreuse, velvet falernum (almond and ginger syrup) and fresh lime juice.

Minh's match spring punch combines vodka, raspberries, cassis, lemon and sugar topped with champagne but to be honest, we're most excited by the plastic monkey hanging off the edge of the glass.

I'd gone for the basil grande, not as strong in basil flavour as I'd hoped, but still refreshing with vodka, strawberries, Chambord, Grand Marnier and cranberry juice.

grandma's bar
Ultimate mai tai on the cocktail menu

The bar fills up quickly with patrons, mostly couples or small groups of friends. We find the roaming bar staff relaxed and friendly, and happy to chat about the cocktails on offer.

grandma's bar
Ultimate mai tai $19

It's the novelty Tiki cup that convinces Minh and Suze to order the ultimate mai tai but the real highlight is when we realise it includes the spectacle of FIRE.

A small frypan is used to flame the Wray & Newphew overproof white rum, floated on top of a heady cocktail made with Appleton Extra Jamaican run, Creole schrubb (an orange and rum liquer), orgeat  (sweet syrup made from almonds, sguar and orange flower water), lime, roasted pineapple and bitters.

We can only cackle with pyromaniac delight.

grandma's bar
Ultimate mai tai

jaffles at grandma's bar
Chicken jaffle $7.50
Spaghetti jaffle $7.50

Would Grandma let you visit without offering something to eat? Of course not. The bar food menu is all about the humble jaffle, simple but comforting and served on vintage crockery that is all but missing the paper doily.

The $7.50 price tag on a jaffle seems a little steep but cheaper snacks of biltong South African cured beef ($4.50) and a tea cup of curried cashews ($4) are also available.

Visiting Grandma has never been so much fun.

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Grandma's Bar on Urbanspoon

Basement 275 Clarence Street, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9264 4003

Opening hours:
Monday to Thursday 3pm-late
Friday 12pm-1am
Saturday 5pm-1am

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posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 12/08/2011 04:26:00 am


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