Even though the most exciting moments in my high school life consisted of wagging class to hang out at the local petrol station with my equally ambitious pothead friends, the thought of getting cocktails at Assembly is appealing. Then again, in this case Assembly refers to a new small bar located in the basement of a mini mall on Kent Street.
It’s a Thursday night when I turn up with the Amazonian Croatian to find an astro-turfed courtyard near the escalator (smoking is still not allowed since it is indoors) and a bar area that looks minimal and industrial.
There’s an old draftsman’s table, naked bulbs dangle above the bar counter, the lampshades would be at home in a factory and there’s a metal spiral staircase leading to a second floor with a chain link balcony fence. This feels more like a sweatshop than a school to me but I like it nevertheless. The one touch of comfort is with the chesterfield sofas but, since the Croatian believes comfort is for pussies, we perch at the bar counter instead.
I order the Deauville, a cocktail that harks back to 1930s New Orleans and is made with cognac, applejack, Cointreau and lemon juice ($19). It’s like a Sidecar with an extra flavour note thanks to the applejack – and it deserves to be made in more bars. The Croatian orders the Bosom Caresser (cognac, Grand Marnier, grenadine – $19), which is served in a steel port glass with a rich egg-white foam on top. I suspect she only ordered it because of the name but it works surprisingly well (I say surprisingly because I’d never normally mix grenadine with cognac).
The cocktail nerd in me likes how Assembly’s cocktail menu lists the proportions of each drink (for example, it says the Bosom Caresser has four parts cognac to two parts Grand Marnier) and in addition to classic cocktails it also has two pages of modern-style ones that tend to have more fruit puree and less liquor in them for those who no doubt like to sit on chesterfield sofas.
In keeping with Sydney’s soul food obsession, the food here includes gourmet hotdogs and sticky ribs. We order the pork belly slider ($12) made with spicy sofrito and pickled red cabbage, as well as the provolone pepper croquettes ($10 – smoked provolone and piquillo peppers), both of which are great (and I especially recommend the croquettes).
For dessert the Croatian orders the For Shizzle My Treacle cocktail (Appleton rum, Angostura bitters, pear puree, white chocolate foam and cinnamon – $19). This turns out to be the best cocktail we taste here and, despite its name, the sweetness is kept to a minimum for balance. It works, much like Assembly itself.
Assembly Bar, 488 Kent Street, Sydney. Open Monday to Saturday until midnight. See the Assembly Bar website
Now it’s your turn – how do you rate Assembly?