Update: Unfortunately 7m has now closed, although the bar managers behind it have launched Grasshopper bar in Temperance Lane.
Cocktail bars normally try to be cheery but Seven Metre Bar (7m), which doubles as a laneway art installation on Underwood Street (it’s part of the Laneways BY George!) festival, has a darker motive: to remind us that if the sea level keeps rising, we’re screwed.
Or, to quote from their happy-go-lucky concept proposal: “At an elevation of 7 metres the bar marks a reading of possible worst case sea level rise at the turn of the century. At 8 meters Underwood Street will be underwater with tidal surges and the flotsam and jetsam of our civilisation. Cars, boats, building materials and bodies will be tangled within its columns like seaweed at the edge of beaches.”
Lovely. I don’t know about you, but that makes me want to reach for a bottle of gin rather than a single cocktail. Yet when I turn up on a Thursday night I quickly find my mood elevating.
It’s partly due to the art installation, which is worth seeing – old cars, boats and other debris are suspended from a walkway above this dark city laneway to depict the aforementioned flotsam and jetsam (there’s even a mannequin tucked into one of the boats) while an interactive animation projected onto a wall shows people swimming (the more people in the bar, the more swimmers appear).
Secondly, the upbeat 80s music (think Duran Duran and Foreigner) helps cheer things up (although a muso friend of mine, who hates 80s music with a passion, would argue it’s the perfect soundtrack for the apocalypse).
And then you have the cocktails. Several are on offer and are all fruity and served in either take-away hot chip cups or jars. I start off with the Storm, which is made with Absolut Vanilla, passionfruit pulp and caramel syrup, and despite my initial skepticism (I’m not a huge fan of fruity drinks) I love it – and at $10 you can’t argue with the price. A friend of mine who looks like an Amazon joins me (I bumped into her by accident – these days you can’t even lurk in dingy alleys by yourself without seeing people you know) and grabs the Green House Punch instead.
Made with Absolut Mandarin, coconut and what they call jungle juice, this packs more of a citrus punch (no pun intended). After taking a sip I decide to have it for my second drink (and rethink my aversion to sweet, fruity cocktails) while my friend then orders the Storm.
Perhaps I was destined for the gutter but the laneway’s derelict gritty ambiance appeals to me and gives a good glimpse as to how Sydney could perhaps rival Melbourne when it comes to laneway bars – making it a pity that 7M will close at the end of January. Let’s hope it somehow leads to more permanent laneway bars to open in the future.
BTW, the 7m Bar project was created by artist Richard Goodwin, landscape architect Adrian McGregor and programmer Russell Lowe.
7M (Seven Metre Bar) is on Underwood Street, which is between Pitt and George Streets at the Circular Quay end of town (check out the map below). It’s open every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday night (licensed from 4 to midnight) until January 31. See the Laneways BY George! website for more information