Most people think of Batman when they think of Gotham, but this new bar on Oxford Street is inspired by old New York rather than the Caped Crusader.
Owned by the same people behind Slide, Gotham has a dramatic aesthetic about it. There’s a retro looking faux clock face behind the padded bar, pressed metal ceilings, marble tables, curtained-off booths, chesterfield sofas and, upstairs, revolving chairs that you’d expect a Bond (rather than Batman) villain to swivel in while stroking a feline.
Knowing my gay wingman’s mania for Manhattan, I take him here on a Wednesday night only to find him fidgeting nervously. It turns out he’s worried that after a few cocktails he’ll run amok in various Oxford Street clubs afterward – and while I suspect this will happen too, I know that I’ll be returning safely home to my cat regardless so I lie and tell him that a few cocktails never hurt anyone.
Gotham’s cocktail menu is brief – there are six potions to choose from although the friendly bartender says he can make us whatever we want. However, I’m sticking to the menu and while I’m curious about the caramelised nashi pear and sage margarita (a friend of mine might have been right when she said sage is becoming the cocktail ingredient of the moment) I opt for the Vessel 76.
The Vessel 76 is made with cigar-infused Maker’s Mark bourbon and Peychaud’s bitters and is served old-fashioned style with spiced maple foam and a cinnamon stick.
I’m a little surprised by how purple the drink looks (at least in candlelight) and the flavour is dominated by the spiciness of the maple foam. As my gay wingman observes, it tastes like a Christmas pudding. If you like Christmas pudding, this might be for you – although I wish I could taste more of the bourbon.
The GW orders the TBA (the bartender says they’re using TBA until they think of a proper name for the drink), which is made with Mount Gay rum muddled with orange rind, grapes and also served short with a cinnamon stick.
I like this because it’s refreshing and has a great citrus aroma, although the GW argues that it doesn’t really taste like anything and he has a point – in fact, even though Mount Gay has a great – and robust – flavour on its own, the grapes somehow seem to negate it to a surprisingly large degree in this cocktail. However, if you don’t want to taste your alcohol then this would be for you – and on a hot summer night I wouldn’t mind trying this again.
You can also nibble on a variety of dishes such as fried zucchini flowers and New York pork belly salad. I particularly like the sushi bombs, which are small squares of rice topped with salmon, tuna and kingfish, and the Peking duck pancakes, although I haven’t learnt how to eat them without dripping hosin sauce all over myself. I also recommend the barbecued Queensland king prawns served with gremolata.
What’s interesting about Gotham is that it’s deliberately not trying to be like a small bar – instead, it’s a brash, large Oxford Street bar that has a New York feel to it. I like small bars but I also like Gotham’s décor (and the soul music that’s playing while I’m there) and both the GW and I agree Oxford Street needed a bar like this. And on that note of consensus the GW and I stumble out into the night (we might have had a few drinks before coming here) so that I can head to my cat while the GW gives in to his impulses and hits the clubs.
Gotham, 35 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst, Sydney. See the Gotham website or phone 9283 1891. Open seven days, noon to midnight
Now it’s your turn – how do you rate Gotham?