I didn’t expect to write anything whatsoever about the Hotel Steyne, an old Manly pub directly opposite the beach – and yet here I am reviewing two completely different bars within it that I both love. The first (and my favourite) is Round Bar, the old circular bar on the ground level that looks like it hasn’t changed in decades, while the second is Moonshine, the cider and rum bar that opened on the top floor.
Located in a separate room to the main ground-floor bar, Round Bar has one of the best examples of a circular middle bar I’ve seen in Sydney, with great old tiles and an old KB clock on the wall (see pic below). To be honest, that’s all I have to say about this place: if you love old tiled pub rooms that have been mercifully left alone by the owners, then you too will want to prop yourself on a bar stool here and sink a few schooners.
In contrast, the Moonshine bar is … well, completely different. Designed to look like a pirate’s hangout, complete with ropes, nautical lamps, lots of wood (including cider crates that act as tables), and dark leather booths, Moonshine serves 16 different ciders on tap, over 100 rums (!) and refuses to serve beer or cocktails.
On paper (or should I say screen?) this sounds contrived – but it works, and works well. The bartender is friendly to us, the cider selection is great, the décor appeals to the pirate-loving kid in me and, best of all, the balcony offers arguably the best beach view in Sydney. I know this is a tough call, but when you sit on the wooden bleachers/steps outside (which alone are a great feature), you have a panoramic view that stretches from Shelly Beach to Queenscliff.
I try the Hills apple cider, which is dry and tangy and great for summer … or winter … or any freakin season, really, while the Amazonian Croatian likes her Gypsy pear cider, which is a little more subtle than the average pear cider although it’s still a bit sweet for me.
Last but certainly not least, there’s also live music here on Thursday and Friday nights – although how the punters feel about being restricted to cider and rum is another matter (only serving the two is a pretty bold move). Still, as a fan of rum, cider and eye patches I’ve got my fingers crossed that others will like Moonshine as much as I do.
Hotel Steyne, 75 The Corso, Manly. Moonshine open from Thursday to Sunday from 5pm to midnight. Sunday from 3pm to 11pm. Round Bar open from 9am to 3am Monday-Saturday, and 9am to midnight on Sundays. See the Hotel Steyne website
Now it’s your turn – how do you rate the Hotel Steyne?