Located where Middle Bar used to be above Kinselas, Lo-Fi is a bar with a retro (as its name would suggest) vibe. There are 60s and 70s style armchairs and sofas (both plush and vinyl), metal desk lamps on the marble bar and drum-shaped light fixtures featuring old record cover images. There’s also a live music and performance space on the level above called The Standard.
I’m here with my Fijian bodyguard who’s impressed by the clientele, who are hip without being obviously obnoxious and attractive without being too young (neither the bodyguard nor myself are whippersnappers anymore). I’m impressed with the sight of so many people drinking cocktails rather than draught beers, which might be explained by the quality of spirits behind the bar and the extensive list of classic cocktails, many of which are from the 20s and 30s.
I opt for the Sidecar, one of my favourite brandy-based cocktails that balances the sourness of lemon juice with the sweetness of Cointreau. Lo-Fi’s rendition uses Hennessey VS cognac and a touch of sugar syrup and is served in a martini glass with an orange peel floating on top. The result is remarkably gentle: the sweetness and citrus flavour are both subtle with a vanilla undertone.
My Fijian bodyguard follows his tropical instincts by ordering a Caipirinha, which Lo-Fi makes with Sagatiba cachaca, sugar and muddled limes.
A Caipirinha is a simple drink to make but often made badly – either the limes aren’t muddled enough or the cachaca tastes like petrol. However, the Fijian’s one tastes great (although, having overdosed on muddled lime cocktails several years ago, I still prefer my Sidecar).
Perhaps the Sidecar’s effects haven’t worn off yet but at the moment Lo-Fi has become my favourite bar on Oxford Street. The music is eclectic with indie leanings (at least it was while I was there), the cocktails are good, the service friendly and there’s a balcony overlooking Taylor Square. If they installed a retro Pac Man arcade console (the 70s furniture brought back memories for me) it would almost be perfect.
Lo-Fi, 383 Bourke Street (above Kinselas on Taylor Square), Darlinghurst
Phone 9311 3100 or see the Lo-Fi website. Open Thursday to Sunday, 6pm-3am
Now it’s your turn – how do you rate Lo Fi?