You’d never know it from peering through its windows on Challis Avenue but tucked away inside Lotus, a Merivale-owned bistro that combines European and Asian flavours, is a small but stunning bar that looks like it belongs to some grand 1920s hotel rather than a hip Kings Cross eatery.
With a marble bar counter, chandelier, mirrors, a liquor-filled backlit bar (the sight of which always fills me with a childish wonder) and a cosy banquette, this is an intimate space that’s a world away from the Kings Cross hustle and bustle.
The room might be small but the cocktail list is extensive with a wide range of concoctions providing a twist on old classics. On the bartender’s advice I opt for the Grand Berg, made from Maker’s Mark bourbon, Grand Marnier, orange marmalade, hubba buba syrup, lemon juice, Angostura bitters and a slice of dehydrated orange that floats on the surface. Served in a tumbler with ice, this is a beautiful drink that will appeal to those who like Old Fashioneds – it’s got depth and strength yet the hubba bubba (a homemade syrup that, when the bartender offers me some separately when I ask about it, actually tastes like liquid Hubba Bubba gum) makes this cocktail smoother to drink.
I’m drinking with the Bar Guru, a friend of mine who works in the industry, and he opts for the Bonnie Sour, made with Hendricks gin, pomme verte (green apple syrup), lemon juice, mint, home-made rhubarb syrup and egg white. This is fragrant and nicely balanced, but both of us are still taken by the hubba bubba syrup.
We also try the crispy spiced prawns and the lamb and shitake spring rolls from the bar menu. The spring rolls might not be authentic but they’re possibly the best I’ve ever had and the prawns make for perfect bar snacks.
Space is limited in the Lotus bar, so you’re best coming here midweek or early – but for a classic drinking experience this is hard to beat.
Lotus, 22 Challis Avenue, Potts Point. Open Tuesday to Saturday from 6pm until late. Phone 9326 9000 or see the Lotus website
Now it’s your turn – how do you rate Lotus?