Question: What do you get when you combine beer with a margarita? If you’re at Sugarmill the answer is the Lagarita, a margarita made with Jose Cuervo that’s served in a beer glass and topped with Fat Yak lager (then again, we’d also accept “hangover in a glass” as an acceptable answer).
If I wanted to get philosophical (and the danger of this happening increases with Lagarita consumption) I could postulate that this cocktail (and I’ll talk about how it tastes in a moment) symbolises Sugarmill’s ethos: after all, like the drink, Sugarmill is caught between two worlds. On one hand it feels casual enough to be a pub and is in the middle of backpacker lager-lout land and yet it’s also stylized enough to be a bar, from the chesterfield sofas, metal benches and the wall covered with rock albums and posters to the brothel-red lamps hanging above the bar and the great old pillars and granite left over from the days when it was once a bank.
I think the mixture works well, adding up to a fun and cool atmosphere. The crowd is suitably laid back and the service is friendly. Unfortunately, however, the Lagarita doesn’t mix so well. I love margaritas with a passion, and I can easily drink Fat Yak lager all day, but in my humble opinion the two clash, with the lager adding a bitterness to the margarita that dulls the wonderful sourness and citrus freshness that makes a margarita work.
However, the $7 price tag does work for me (it’s happy hour here from 5pm until 8pm, and it’s good to see a happy hour that doesn’t require you to get two drinks for the deal to work) so I come back to order a Tom Collins.
This is an old-school cocktail made with Tanqueray gin, sugar syrup and lemon juice and it’s a good option for those who like gin and tonics and want to try something new. This version of the Tom Collins is clean and refreshing although it doesn’t sweep me off my feet. I can’t help wishing I’d just ordered a Fat Yak instead (a bit of trivia about Fat Yak: apparently the name came about because the brewers, Matilda Bay, considered the beer to be big and hairy in flavour).
Sugarmill is sometimes referred to as being a gastro pub and the food here is extensive. You can get meals such as pizza, pasta, burgers, tasting plates, Thai red curry with duck and scrambled eggs with grana padana parmesan, chives and toasted Turkish bread. It’s the scrambled eggs that appeals to me the most, but since it’s past 7pm I decide to wait until a morning when I find myself wandering around the Cross feeling traumatised, hungover and in need of a bloody mary and scrambled eggs.
Knowing myself, that probably won’t be too far in the future.
PS – I couldn’t not at least mention that the Kit and Kaboodle club is upstairs – but that’s really worth a separate review. For now let’s just say that it’s two floors, with the top one going for a swinging sixties feel that Kit and Kaboodle describes as Shanghai Nights meets Studio 54. Think Chinese dragon statues, a gold deco bar, and red lounges – it personally makes me think of a criminal’s lair from a kung fu movie.)
Now it’s your turn – how do you rate Sugarmill?