Newtown can be a cynical suburb and as such its newest drinking spot, Funky Bar, faces an uphill battle.
That isn’t to say a foreigner can’t find its place – Keystone Hospitality, owners of Cargo, Bungalow 8 and Sugarmill, has had a roaring success with Freaky Tiki (though they did their fair share of tweaking, dropping their initial drinks prices and initiating a generous happy hour that sent the rest of King Street into a panicked replication).
Funky Bar, with its colour-coordinated fittings and feature wall, is definitely foreign. But with an influx of young professionals into the area that leaves iconic Newtown joints like the Sando looking a tad quaint, who’s to say there isn’t a market for a pedigree cocktail hour?
And so as easy as it might be to dismiss Funky Bar as too smooth for Newtown, Dan and I resolve to take in our drinks with an open mind.
They don’t make it easy for us.
For a start there’s the neon red sign outside that, set off against the charcoal awning, finds unfortunate resonance further down at 77 Enmore Road (for those of you unfamiliar with it, 77 is a brothel).
And while the textured, black and red wallpaper evokes a classier by-the-hour boudoir than the exterior, the lighting is still a little too bright for my taste, and never having been one to play dance music as I made love, I can’t say I’m all together seduced.
Service is super friendly and our waitress is more than happy to fill us in on what’s what, including the live music that plays Tuesday through Saturday (we’re here on a Monday and so miss out). This spiel includes such non sequiturs as a musician who embodies both Cat Empire and the Scissor Sisters, and another who evokes Beyonce and Aretha.
In other words, it’s a listenable line-up of soul infused pop-rock. The Funky Bar website furnishes this with a list of regular musicians: Carlos C Major, Aj, Mark Da-Costa and Amali Ward & Jordan Millar.
Dan orders the Moscow Mule (vodka, lime, fresh ginger and topped with ginger beer) and is pleased with it. I have a craving for amaretto and opt for the Almond and Peach Sour (amaretto, peach liqueur and lemon). The balance, however, seems a little off, with the amaretto overwhelming the peach and lemon – although in the bar’s defence, the menu promises a “large dose” of almond.
Drinks include Funky favourites such as the Watermelon Martini and the Lou Lou as well as cocktail standards, and a sangria that the website promises “has put a smile on the face of even the harshest critics”.
Clearly our (peach) sour pusses would have benefited from a glass.
Funky Bar, 256 King Street, Newtown. Open every day until midnight. See the Funky Bar website
Now it’s your turn – how do you rate Funky Bar?