If Bar Zine were to shoot a James Bond movie in Sydney we’d definitely have the super spy sipping martinis in the Blu Bar (keeping in mind we’d be returning Bond to his cocktail-sipping, 1960s-style playboy roots, which is where he belongs).
After all, the jaw-dropping panoramic view through the floor-to-ceiling windows may not be a View to a Kill but it is a view to die for. Being 36 stories high and located in The Rocks means you’re looking straight down onto the Harbour Bridge and the water, which can feel surreal especially if you’re seated right next to the window. There are also windows lining the other side of the bar, so you can keep tabs on what’s happening from Darling Harbour right down to Kirribilli.
In addition to the view the atmosphere is also upmarket and classy enough for 007 and, being a five-star hotel bar (this is, after all, in the Shangri La), the staff are friendly and polite. And, of course, the martini selection is extensive.
As with Bond you can order a vodka martini made from either 42 Below, Belvedere, Grey Goose, Chopin, Kettle One, Ciroc or Smirnoff Black or a gin martini made with either Tanqueray, Tanqueray Ten or South Gin (which hails from New Zealand). All are priced at $25.
Bar Zine has always believed Bond was wrong and that martinis should be made with a good quality gin, so we opt for the Tanqueray and find it faultless and ice cold. Those with money to burn and a date to impress can also buy the $10,000 Martini on the Rock that features a sunken and drunken diamond within the alcohol (you have to book ahead to order that).
Bar Zine, however, is on a budget and so we instead opt for the $20 Horizon Sunset, which is sans diamond but full of Absolut Mandarin, mango and strawberry liqueur and pineapple and cranberry juice poured on top of that (with a slice of orange served on the rim). It’s built so that the layers make the drink pink on top and orange on the bottom – which might turn Bond off, but the cocktail is enjoyable in a refreshing, fun and fruity kind of way.
For those who want something even sweeter, however, there’s also a page of cocktails under the description “Blended desserts”. For $20 you can take your pick of drinks such as the Cookie Monster, which contains Absolut Vanilla, crème de cacao, Teichenne butterscotch schnapps, milk and Orio cookies.
You might want to save that drink until after you’ve eaten, however, with the food menu including Sydney rock oysters ($22 for half a dozen and served with chardonnay granite), Sterling caviar for $180 and, for the adventurous, fried pigs ear ($20).
The clientele is mixed, with smartly-dressed locals sipping cocktails beside hotel guests and tourists, and the background music is suitably toned down.
If you want to impress someone on a date, see a different view of the city or just have a James Bond experience without the bloodshed, then we suggest checking this bar out.
Now it’s your turn – how do you rate Blu Bar?
Blu Bar (formerly Blu Horizon Bar), 36th floor, Shangri-La Hotel, 176 Cumberland Street, The Rocks. Phone 9250 6000. Open Monday-Thursday 5pm to 1am; Friday 12pm to 2am; Saturday 5pm to 2am; Sunday 5pm to midnight.