When I was a wee bonny lad my parents were thinking about buying a chocolate shop in the Cross and so every week we’d visit the main drag to visit it, passing the prostitutes, neon lights, strip clubs and, at the end of the strip, the drunks peering woefully through the glass windows of the Goldfish Bowl who looked as suffocated as their piscine counterparts.
A lot has changed since then. The chocolate shop is no longer there, my parents no longer take me to see hookers, and the Goldfish Bowl has undergone a dramatic renovation.
The sticky carpet, hollowed out drunks, pool table and claustrophobic glass windows have been removed and instead a neat smoking area has been erected (does using “neat” as an adjective make me sound like someone from The Brady Bunch?) that looks more like honeycomb than a fish bowl thanks to the grill work that allows you to stick your arms through it to touch the passersby.
Inside, the decor is like a cross between a modern club and something out of Maxwell Smart’s apartment (is it just me, or is a lot of new bar décor sixties inspired?)
I’m waiting here for a friend of mine who’s a bit like Dorothy Parker only without the full blown alcoholism and suicidal tendencies and who promised to be my escort to a nearby party that promises to be filled with glamazons – and trust me, when you look like the love child of Woody Allen and Krusty the Clown, as I do, you need all the protection you can get.
Since I’ve never been gentlemanly enough to wait for a lady before drinking I immediately order the Sloe Car, a drink that I think Dorothy herself would like and certainly hails from her era.
Made with Gabriel Boudier sloe gin, Cointreau and lemon juice and served in a martini glass rimmed with homemade Campari dust (which the bartender tells me is made by sacrificing a bottle of Campari to the oven gods), the drink is then garnished with a flamed orange zest that adds to the aroma.
The dust tastes a bit like an astringent sherbet, which is actually surprisingly pleasant, while the drink itself has a flavour that’s somewhat like a cross between a lollypop and a margarita without being too sweet.
My Dorothy Parker-esq friend arrives, orders a Sloe Car for herself after I tell her about it (even though I selfishly tried to get her to order something different so I could try a different cocktail), and she agrees it’s a knockout drink – especially for the happy hour price of $8.50 (happy hour runs from 6 to 9 every weeknight).
I’m beginning to think we’re better off trading bon mots here while staring through the honeycomb at the people walking by (I can only hope they don’t judge us the way I judged those poor drinkers in my youth) but my friend sagely reminds me that free drinks are waiting for us at the party and so we head off – but with great cocktails at those prices I’ll definitely be coming back.
PS I really tried to work in the phrase “drinks like a fish” in this Goldfish review but I just couldn’t get it to work. Perhaps I’m slipping …
Goldfish bar, 111 Darlinghurst Road, Kings Cross. Phone 8354 6630 or see the Goldfish Bar website
Now it’s your turn – how do you rate Goldfish bar?