I’m writing two intros for this: cocktail nerds such as myself should scroll down while those who just want a fun Friday night out should read on.
Intro for normal people: Every Friday night from now until the end of October, Zeta Bar will have a Coney Island theme – which means you’ll have circus sideshows, tarot card readers, funfair games, a hot dog stand, performances from a strongman, burlesque contortionist (pictured), dancers and more, as well as a range of amusement-park fare that are given alcoholic twists, from the cider-spiked toffee apples and Cosmopolitan candy floss to Long Island Iced Tea snow cones (which taste far more subtle than any Long Island Iced Tea I ever had).
Oh, yes – and if a bartender gives you a nitro shot, which is both alcoholic and frozen with liquid nitrogen, then trust me – count slowly to 20, then maybe to 100, before putting it in your mouth.
Cocktail nerd intro: forget the carnival hoo ha – the reason you need to come here is for the Hotdog-washed Manhattan ($18).
Made with hotdog and cheese washed Bulleit bourbon*, maple syrup and sweet vermouth, this cocktail is then served with crispy bacon and a mini hotdog that you’re meant to eat between sips. This carnie taste matching is a key part of the experience – you need the processed meat to enjoy the drink and I have to say that it works. In fact, after you have a few sips (the first is a bit of a rude awakening) the Hotdog-washed Manhattan becomes sophisticated white trash heaven.
BTW, for those who haven’t heard of washing alcohol, it’s all about infusing something fatty in it before removing the fat so you just have the flavour. I know it sounds wrong, but it can taste so right (there’s a good video explaining how to wash bourbon with bacon fat here – I love how the bartender talks about bacon fat as if it were truffle oil).
You also have to try the alcoholic sorbet bar – both the bubblegum and the popcorn flavours are ridiculously good.
Coney Island nights at Zeta Bar – Hilton Sydney, Level 4, 488 George Street, Sydney, from 6pm, see the Zeta Bar website). Cocktails from $15.