Liquid nitrogen is a key bar tool at The Roosevelt – which might give an idea of what this bar is like. The tank of nitro is kept with decanters on a drink trolley that’s pushed toward you for certain cocktails such as The Martini of Tomorrow or the Nitro Colada. The reason for the liquid nitro and the trolley is to make sure the drink is as cold as possible when it hits your table – but theatrics are also at play. This, after all, is a bar that has glassware located on shelves all around the main dining room so the bartender can just reach behind you for the appropriate vessel.
The Roosevelt is the latest venture from Behind Bars, the guys behind Eau de Vie, and to some degree it feels like they’re taking everything a step further. Even if your drink doesn’t involve liquid nitrogen, there’s bound to be something different about it. For example, I order The Graduate, a drink served in an absinthe flamed balloon that has cognac, lapsoon-infused vermouth and what they call herbaceous liqueurs in it. Aside from the complex flavours – I mean, it’s not every bar that would actually infuse vermouth with tea – the drink is then delivered to my table in a contraption that suspends my glass over a tea candle to keep it at the right temperature.
The Graduate is inspired by the Harvard, a classic cocktail that combines brandy with sweet vermouth, and … it’s frickin perfect. I wish I could pick out a flaw, just so I don’t look like a gushing simpleton, but this is a beautifully well thought out drink. The hints of absinthe and tea blend subtly with the cognac and vermouth, with a thin lemon strip adding a citrus dimension. It’s a warm, soothing, decadent drink, the type that makes you feel like either puffing out your chest or puffing on a cigar.
Ok, I don’t know what that last line meant either. I guess I’m trying to be clever with this review.
Anyway, back to basics: although The Roosevelt will have a back room, as well as possibly an upstairs bar, at the moment there’s just the front room, which looks a bit like a retro (think Mad Men) cocktail lounge with lamp-lit tables, a lot of cocktail shakers on display, and jazz playing quietly in the background. They also have a kitchen out the back that turns out food with a twist, such as vegetarian sushi, cocktail “nuts” that are made with vegetables, a tartare that the menu says is “the evolution of an American BBQ turned raw”, as well as warm berries served with nitrogen mousse. Yes, everything other than the last option scares me too. The nibbles range from $8 for the sushi to $16 for the tartare, plus there are also five-course degustation dinners for $150 (the head chef is David Leitzen. who has apparently worked at Michelin-starred restaurants in Germany, Japan and Italy).
The cocktails, meanwhile, range from $18 to $26 – which isn’t too bad, considering the floor-show.
The Roosevelt, 32 Orwell Street, Potts Point. Open everyday until midnight, see The Roosevelt website
Now it’s your turn – how do you rate The Roosevelt?
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