As much as I love cocktail bars I hate the attitude that sometimes goes with them in this town. Luckily, however, being rejected by doormen has finally worked in my favour because if my gay wingman and I weren’t considered unworthy by a nearby bar we’d never have gone into Low 302, a fantastic bar just around the corner.
As soon as we walk in we can tell there’s a great vibe: the music is retro cool (think Tom Waits and Depeche Mode), the funky décor makes this look a little like an old fashioned pub as seen through the eyes of Tim Burton (or is that just me?) and, most importantly for our fragile egos, there’s a friendly doorman. Actually, all the staff we encounter are friendly, which makes for a nice change.
It’s a Saturday night and the place is packed. Rather than feeling like the usual crowded pub or meat market, however, Low 302 has a more intimate atmosphere reminiscent of a casual warehouse party. I bump into a woman at the bar who starts talking to me and then, within minutes, I find myself talking to a different couple nearby. The last time I was in a cool bar where the patrons were this friendly was back when I was in Melbourne.
But enough chit chat: let’s talk about drinks.
Being cheapskates, my GW and I decide to go for the cocktail shots that cost $9 each. We start with the Baby Lady (the good thing about having a gay wingman is that I don’t feel pressure to order macho drinks), which is made from lemon juice, Cointreau and gin. This is tasty enough for us to go for a second round, although this time we go for the Hurricane shots, which are made from rum, tropical and passionfruit juice. These are ok but, quite frankly, we can barely taste any alcohol. Then again, in retrospect it perhaps it serves us right – after all, how much alcohol could we have expected in a shot-sized cocktail?
I turn up the following Saturday with a different friend, and this time I tried the La Dura Vita, which is a variation of a negroni in that it contains Campari, gin, Amaro Averna (an Italian liqueur) and is served in a tumbler with an orange twist.
As soon as I taste it I regret ever ordering the cocktail shots as this is fantastic (and good value at $16). The Amaro Averna replaces the sweet vermouth that’s normally in a negroni and I believe it works better – the overall flavour of this cocktail seems to me to be a little more subtle and textured than a standard negroni.
Unlike the previous week there’s live music on tonight with a variety of performers taking to the mike. Apparently there’s also live music most Thursdays and we’re told the piano here is available for anyone to play – if they’re game.
Low 302, 302 Crown Street, Darlinghurst. Open until 2am. Phone 9368 1548 or see the Low 302 website
Now it’s your turn – how do you rate Low 302?