The thought’s occurred to me that I should host a Bar Zine awards night for Sydney’s best bars – except that I don’t like hosting parties (or going to any party if the alcohol isn’t free) and the only prizes I’d want to give would be autographed photos of my cat.
This might explain why I am not a media mogul.
Nevertheless, if I were to give an award for most unpretentious bar then the winner would certainly be Freda’s.
From the outside all you see is a driveway on Regent Street with a sign hanging off a fence that has “Freda’s” written in chalk on it – and the décor inside is equally simple. This is a bare bones bar with chain link fences, naked bulbs, exposed brick walls, and bare wooden surfaces. The cocktail menu, however, speaks volumes. It includes a 50/50 sazerac made with both rye and cognac, the Brooklyn cocktail (an old classic forgotten by most), not to mention drinks such as the Southside and Bourbon Sour – cocktails for those who like the taste of liquor.
I think the best drink here is the Brooklyn, made with rye whiskey, dry vermouth, Amer Picon and maraschino liqueur and served with a maraschino cherry. This is a sultry drink, similar to a Manhattan but, in my opinion, more sophisticated in flavour.
My second favourite cocktail here is the Grapefruit Mezcal Margarita with pink salt ($17 – to be honest, I forgot how much the Brooklyn cost but it was in the same ballpark). Made with El Señorio Mezcal Reposado, Cointreau, fresh lime and pink grapefruit juice, this is a good variation on a margarita that has a stronger flavour thanks to the aged mezcal.
The only disappointment is with the Sazerac, which is decent but nowhere near as great as the Brooklyn – and coming from a Sazerac obsessive like me, that says something. I’m not sure why this Sazerac doesn’t work for me since the guys here obviously know what they’re doing – they use La Mercier absinthe (which I love), Remy VSOP and Wild Turkey rye for this drink – but it just doesn’t gel for me.
The food, however, is spot on. Specials are written on a chalkboard and I and my drinking partner, a lapsed Canadian with a rye whiskey fetish, try the slow roasted pork shoulder with pickles ($12) and the sardines, pine nuts and currants ($12) – both of which are perfect bar food.
Funk music is playing softly, the service is exceptional, and even the free bowl of nuts that they gave was above average, thanks to a mix of pistachios, pecans and almonds.
In short, I’m impressed. Really impressed. To the owner of Freda’s: if you want an autographed photo of my cat, you merely have to ask.
Freda’s, 107 Regent Street, Chippendale. Open everyday until late. See Freda’s website
Now it’s your turn – how do you rate this Freda’s?
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