Many bars prefer the less-is-more approach (I suspect sooner or later we’ll find ourselves in so-called bars that have little more than a bonfire in a garbage can and a bucket of grain spirit to collectively drink from) and so it’s a nice change of pace to find myself in the elegant, sumptuous surrounds of the Sir Stamford hotel bar in Circular Quay.
Located in a grand old building, the bar has its own doorway on Macquarie Street just metres away from the hotel foyer with a sign simply saying “The Bar”.
Inside, however, you find there’s nothing simple about this place. The walls are decked with some great old paintings that are apparently worth a fortune, there’s a piano, an old fashioned wooden bar with some great whiskies and spirits behind it, and a range of tables and armchairs that look lived in. In other words, it’s the type of place where you could either take a date or your grandmother to – especially if your grandmother likes hard liquor (although they also have a wide variety of tea available).
Personally, I prefer cocktails and so I order a Martinez, the granddaddy of martinis. Made with Plymouth gin, sweet vermouth, maraschino liqueurs, orange bitters and sugar, this is a great introduction to the martini family for those who want straight spirits without the taste of alcohol.
I’m escorted by Dot, my literary friend who has turned up with a feather in her cap (or it could be her hair – I don’t want to be rude by staring too hard, but I do notice something bird-like poking up above her eyebrows) and she orders the Ernest Hemingway Special. As with the Martinez, this also has maraschino liqueur although that’s where the similarity ends, as this is an old-fashioned style daiquiri that’s also made with Havana Club rum, grapefruit and lime (the lack of sugar is due to Hemingway being a diabetic). The drink is good, although Dot prefers the sweetness and smoothness of the Martinez – after all, much like its namesake, the Ernest Hemingway Special has a punch but also a bit of a rough edge.
Since Hemingway lived in Spain for a while we decide to go with the flow by ordering some tapas to soak up the booze. The pork belly is good (although after a while I feel a heart attack coming) but the garlic prawns with chorizo, as well as the oven warmed dark olives, were definitely the winners.
I suspect the Sir Stamford’s bar is mainly targeted at the après-opera crowd (I feel sophisticated/pretentious in saying that) in addition to its residents but since Sydney is sorely lacking when it comes to grand old fashioned bars that make you feel like time stopped around a century ago, this is worth dropping in for a quiet Martinez or two.
Sir Stamford at Circular Quay, 93 Macquarie Street, Sydney. Phone 9252 4600 or see the Sir Stamford at Circular Quay website
Now it’s your turn – how do you rate The Bar at Sir Stamford at Circular Quay?