Created by the same folk that ran Seven Metre Bar (7M), Grasshopper is possibly Sydney’s hardest to find laneway bar. Located on Temperance Lane, which runs off George Street, it’s not visible from the main street and the Amazonian Croatian and I aren’t even sure we have the right place until we walk up the lane and see a large open doorway with people drinking inside.
The top level of Grasshopper is a restaurant with an open kitchen and an aroma that makes us regret having fish and chips before coming here. The menu is limited to some classics such as steak poivre and pork and parsley terrine and the dining atmosphere is seductive and low-lit, with intimate little tables. In other words, this would be perfect for taking a date.
However, the Amazonian and I instead head downstairs to the bar, which has a hip, funky vibe. One side is wallpapered with kitsch black-and-white still shots of people performing kung fu, there are 70s-era armchairs and lamps, old records are used as coasters and there’s an overall vibe that would be very much at home in Melbourne.
As with 7m, some of Grasshopper’s cocktails are served in jars, such as my no. 3 (all the drinks here have numbers rather than names, much like an Asian takeaway). Made with gin, vermouth, orange, Campari and raspberry syrup, the no. 3 has a fresh and strong orange flavour. Both the Amazonian and I prefer her no. 7, however, which is made with calvados, Fernet-Branca (an Italian amaro), orange and almond syrup. This is served in a small cocktail glass and has a complex flavour with the almond syrup giving it a slight nutty edge that works beautifully with the bitterness of the amaro and the sweetness of the orange.
I come back a few months later with the Gay Wingman and try a new cocktail of theirs called the no. 20. Made with tequila, brandy, cherry, Cynar (a bitter Italian apéritif where the main ingredient is artichoke) and served with orange peel, this is now my favourite Grasshopper cocktail. The bartender served it because I told him about my sazerac addiction and there are similarities, with the brandy and the cherry’s sweetness working well with the Cynar bitters. The tequila adds a subtle earthiness to it and the result is a smooth, balanced and well-thought out cocktail.
Overall, Grasshopper is a cosy and welcome addition to Sydney’s bar scene – and if we get a few more laneway bars like this then we’ll really be giving Melbourne a run for its money.
Grasshopper, Temperance Lane (between 389 and 391 George Street), Sydney CBD. Open Monday to Friday. See the Grasshoppper website or phone 9947 9025 for more details
Now it’s your turn – how do you rate Grasshopper Bar?