Imagine a place with three bars. The first allows you to sit at a 1950s-styled marble bar counter (the back bar is covered with old green tiles) and offers a wide variety of negroni cocktails to choose from as well as free aperitivo (ie olives, rosemary focaccia, salumi) from 5pm-7pm.
The second is an equally retro but also elegant affair that sports a bar with counter stools (see picture), vintage cocktails such as the Aviation, Jack Rose, and the Blood and Sand (one of my all-time favourites) as well as dim lighting and stunningly gorgeous staff that make me realise giving up women for cats was a foolish notion.
The third is the Gilt Lounge, a late-night lounge bar that … well, to be honest, I never managed to get there. But quite frankly, the first two bars are enough to impress me with QT Sydney, the new boutique hotel where Gowings used to be (it also takes up part of the old State Theatre building that had offices in it, although the main theatre itself is still operating separately to the hotel).
The first bar I mentioned is actually called Parlour Lane Roasters, which is a café during the day but an atmospheric aperitvo bar at night. The service is friendly, my negroni sbagliato (Tanqueray, Dolin blanc, Aperol and served with an orange twist – $14) is perfect, and the complimentary olives, sea salt and olive focaccia are great. You can also order nibbles such as the salumi plate (enzo, cacciatore and wagyu bresaola for $15).
My only complaint is the incongruous driving dance beat playing in the background, though this thankfully changes to an upbeat folk track right before I leave.
The second bar is called the Gowings Bar and Grill and it’s hard to fault. I mean, I can fault it: for example, I’m not sure the TVs in the wall showing something arty are all that necessary (I’m old fashioned enough to want my art on canvas rather than plasma), but I absolutely love this place. The service is friendly, the cocktail list is perfect, and my only criticism is of myself – instead of ordering any one of the many drinks that look great on the menu, I instead order the Swinger (10 Cane rum, Luxurdo maraschino liqueur, sage, fresh lemon and sugar ($18). I do this for the juvenile reason that I’ve become obsessed with a US show called Swingtown that’s about suburban … well, you get it … and so I give the drink a go. It’s made well and the bartender certainly knows what she’s doing, but I should have guessed this drink wouldn’t be to my taste – although if you like limoncello, you’ll love this. The next time I’m here I’ll order the Candied Plum Old Fashioned instead (Buffalo Trace bourbon, candied plum, plum bitters, demerara sugar and an orange twist – $19).
There’s a formal dining area, various small tables and stools, wooden floorboards, driving ambient music thanks to a DJ who I scowl at (although he redeems himself by playing a jazz track at one stage), and bar food that includes buttermilk fried free-range chicken wing tulips ($16) and crumbed rice balls with wild and cultivated mushrooms, four cheeses, spinach, porcini, pepper and lemon ($16).
Now to think of it, the next time I’m here I’ll order bar food as well the Old Fashioned, and … well, I was going to make a bad swingers joke but I’ll just stop here.
QT Sydney, George and Market Streets, Sydney, see the QT Sydney Hotel website for more details
Now it’s your turn – how do you rate the bars in the QT Hotel in Sydney?
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