When you sit at the bar at Bentley, there’s a lot of fire, spices and herbs going around.
One cocktail, for example, sees the bartender (Phil Gandevia, easily one of the best in Australia) – put a cardamom pod in the bottom of a jigger, flame it, and then add the gin. I’d tell you the name of the cocktail he was making, but I’ve stopped taking notes at bars – and besides, the bar staff here will make you cocktails off the menu anyway. You just need to ask.
One cocktail name I can’t forget, however, is the Bentley cocktail – a classic that appeared in the 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book. It’s lucky this restaurant just so happens to have the same name as this much forgotten cocktail, as it’s fantastic.
Made with Calvados and Dubonnet, the version here adds Peychauds bitters (and possibly pastis as well), a touch of smokiness, and is served in a tiny imitation wine bottle with a wine glass to pour it in.
The result looks like a glass of wine and yet tastes like a smoother, more delicate Manhattan – it’s my new favourite drink.
The Bentley is known more for its wine than cocktails – I couldn’t even find any mention of cocktails on its website – which explains the wine motif behind this and another cocktail I then try: the shiraz-erac.
That’s right – a variant of a sazerac cocktail that also has shiraz in it and that somehow, lord knows how, works beautifully well.
Oh, yeah: the Bentley also happens to serve food.
Bentley Restaurant and Bar, 27 O’Connell Street, Sydney, see the Bentley Restaurant and Bar website.