The problem with growing older is that your sense of time freezes. In the mid 90s the East Village was considered one of the hippest drinking holes in Sydney and, unable to fully grasp that over a decade has passed since then, I still feel like a hipster for going there.
These days, however, the vibe is more laid-back than hip. Acid jazz (very 90s) is playing on the stereo and when I approach the bar with wingwoman and ask for a cocktail menu the barman tells us he is the menu.
“Excuse me?” I say.
“I am the menu,” he says. “What do you feel like? Something sweet, something sour?”
I feel like looking at an actual menu but I say I want something sour while wingwoman says she wants a martini but not a straight one. “What about a lychee martini?” the barman says, which wingwoman agrees to.
Before long our drinks are served and despite my scepticism I have to say that my sour is good. It turns out the barman made an Amaretto sour, which is one of my favourite variations on this type of drink (Amaretto is an Italian almond liqueur and can soften the harshness of a sour cocktail).
Wingwoman loves her lychee martini (even though it doesn’t contain a lychee, which she expected) and listens patiently to my spiel on how martinis should be made traditionally with gin, vermouth, an olive and nothing else, although I can tell she thinks I’m a pretentious prat. She could be right.
Upstairs there are two separate bars that can be hired for functions. The one on the first floor (called the Greenwich bar) is my favourite thanks to its retro furniture and booths and I have a hazy alcoholic recollection of once going to a Halloween party there dressed as a vampire. Talking of bats, there’s also a rooftop area that, because it’s on a hill, gives a great view of the city (I mention the bats because I was once at a party there and, in the evening, a swarm of fruit bats fluttered overhead as one of my friends ran to the balcony and shrieked “Fly my pretties! Fly!”).
Well, perhaps you had to be there to appreciate it.
Anyway, the East Village is a good pub to have a beer in or a surprise cocktail, especially if you can nab a seat on the footpath and watch the Darlinghurst residents walk by. Vampire costumes are optional.
East Village, 234 Palmer Street, East Sydney. Open Mon-Sat 12:00am-12:00pm, Sunday 12:00am-10:00pm. Phone 9331 5457 or see the East Village website.
Now it’s your turn – how do you rate East Village?