If you’re after a dive bar par excellence, a place that’s dark and comfortable and where you can sit at an old wooden bar counter and slam back pickle juice paired with whiskey, then look no further – The Flinders is your port of call.
I’ve come thanks to the sage advice of a colleague who, upon hearing that I like the Shady Pines Saloon, has suggested The Flinders ought to be up my alley. Sure enough, it is.
The counter is gouged with people’s attempts to carve messages with knives, the main delicacy here are the home-made sausage rolls that are delicious – they give the ones at the Bourke Street Bakery a run for their money – and there’s a jar of pork cracklings (one of which almost breaks my tooth) behind the bar.
I might be in heaven.
The décor is a cross between Darlinghurst glam – there’s a back room covered with shiny tiles – and retro suburban dagginess (I particularly like the 70s beer tray pinned to a wooden post).
The first drink I try is the Pickle Back ($9), which is far nicer than it sounds. You down a shot of Jamesons whiskey followed by a shot of pickle juice and the result is remarkably savoury – a bit like a high strength liquid hamburger.
The menu is similarly subtle. It has the word Wine printed on it, followed by the word Yes. As such, I instead opt for the Flora Dora ($16), a cocktail made with Beefeater gin, raspberries, home-made ginger syrup, lime and soda water. The result is a vividly red cocktail that’s packed with flavour and holds together well, with the ginger adding a sharp note to the raspberries’ sweetness. I couldn’t have too many of these in a row (whereas I could easily down Pickle Back after Pickle Back) but I’m glad I ordered it.
Having said that, on my next visit I’ll definitely opt for the whiskey sour, a rough hewn cocktail that some believe should only be drunk in high-quality dives like this – followed, of course, by a Pickle Back or two.
The Flinders, 63 Flinders Street, Darlinghurst. Open Tuesday to Saturday, see The Flinders Hotel website for more details.
Now it’s your turn – how do you rate The Flinders?