It must be hunting season in Sydney’s bars because I keep seeing animal heads popping up on their walls. First it was Shady Pines Saloon, which has a menagerie of animal heads peering forlornly on the drinkers, then Moose which has antlers on its wall and now, when I visit Bondi hotspot The Corner House, sure enough I see another set of antlers, this time overlooking a sofa in the upstairs cocktail bar.
Then again, on a Saturday night the crowd here seems equally predatory: there’s a young woman wearing a fur pelt on her back, another woman is wearing a cougar print skirt and the line-up for the bar rapidly becomes competitive as the place increasingly fills up. With black leather sofas, wooden floorboards and 50s music playing, the overall vibe is of a clean, retro loungeroom rather than a bar – and appropriately enough, the sign on the bar counter says “The Living Room”.
However, what impresses me is that the cocktail menu has The Corpse Reviver no. 2 and so I order it. This is a classic cocktail rarely seen in any bar and, to be honest, one that I’ve never had before.
According to the menu it’s made with London dry gin, lemon, curacao and “French flair”, which I assume means Lillet Blanc and a drop or two of absinthe since that’s what the traditional recipe usually calls for, although the recipe also usually calls for Cointreau rather than orange curacao. The Corpse Reviver is then served in a martini glass with a maraschino cherry at the bottom.
Many classic cocktails taste strong (which is often part of their charm) but the Corpse Reviver is surprisingly light, refreshing and remarkably easy to drink. As its name suggests, this cocktail was designed as a hangover cure and I can certainly see myself drinking this in the morning (hey, I never said I was responsible) – in fact, I’d rather this than a Bloody Mary.
The bar’s getting even more crowded and so my friend and I stick to Peronis for the rest of the night, which we largely spend on the balcony. This has a more relaxed feel, with kegs being used as seating (we even see a small round cushion that fits perfectly on top of one of the kegs). The crowd here is very Bondi: young, relaxed and casually dressed.
To be honest I prefer my bars to be darker than Corner House and less like apartment rooms but, having said that, I’m still impressed. Hopefully the next time I’ll be in Bondi it’ll be on a weeknight so I can see Corner House – and taste more cocktails – when it’s a little more mellow.
The Corner House, 281 Bondi Road, Bondi. Open Monday to Saturday until midnight, Sunday till 10pm. Phone 8020 6698 or see The Corner House website
Now it’s your turn – how do you rate Corner House?