The only sign that you have found Pocket Bar at the Burton Street address on a dark, wet and cold night is a small sign telling you to enter through the Crown Street entrance. Once inside the small, edgy bar, you can’t hide the elephants in the room.
Pop art on the wall, with naked girls, cartoon characters and the odd memorabilia bathed in dim lighting add an underground and grunge element to the space. Funky tunes are drowned by the hubbub of the crowd on Saturday night. The vibe is buzzy yet laid back with people looking relaxed at the long tables near the entrance or lounging more comfortably at the back.
We manage to score seats at the bar, my favourite place to watch the action as bartenders are busy shaking, stirring, pouring and attending to the line of patrons. The bar stools are surprisingly comfortable and easy to climb on for the vertically challenged like me. The bar counter with a glass top doubles as a book shelf, and is a convenient place to rest a handbag or a manbag.
Raspberry Mojito (L) and Wake up Call (R) with Ben behind the bar
The cocktail list is divided into those to be shared, signature cocktails, house cocktails and ‘better with age’, the latter promising a more serious mix.
Our friends from out of town are first to place their order. The Raspberry Mojito ($17.5) is made from a lend of with Bacardi Oro rum with mint leaves, fresh lime, raspberry purée, brown sugar and sparkling water – a light and fruity cocktail, easy to drink on a hot summer afternoon. The Wake Up Call ($18) packs a good espresso shot with Bacardi Oro Rum, coffee liqueur and vanilla. Although I did not taste it, I was assured it has a good balance of coffee and alcohol.
The Millionaire #4 (1937) and The Corpse Reviver # 2 (1895)
I order the Corpse Reviver # 2 (1895) ($18) made with a blend of Bombay gin, Cointreau, Lillet Blanc, fresh lemon juice and a dash of Absinthe which comes served in a chilled silver coupe glass. Although pleasant to drink with an end note of absinthe, I expected it to deliver more of a kick.
Mr G’s Millionaire #4 (1937) ($19), also served in a chilled silver coupe glass has Appleton Estate rum, Sloe Gin, Apricot Brandy, lime juice and hits the right notes.
More Raspberry Mojitos are enjoyed by our friends while Mr G orders for the Avenue (1937) ($19), made with Maker’s Mark Bourbon, Calvados, passion fruit and orange bitters served with citrus peel. One sip of his cocktail and I immediately order the same. When it arrives, I note that both drinks which were made by different bartenders tasted rather different. I manage to score the better-balanced version which was mixed by Ben.
The bar serves food designed to be shared such as French fries, boquerones, chicken and beef skewers, paté and charcuterie platters and a good range of savoury and sweet crêpes. The crêpes add a French flavour and are a welcome change from pizza which you find on many bar menus.
At Pocket Bar, it’s easy to unwind and work your way through the cocktail list and kick back with friends amidst graffiti murals and comfortable lounges. Bar service is swift and friendly at the same time, even on a busy Saturday night which makes it a good spot to drop in for pre-dinner drinks or later in the evening for a cocktail matched with sweet crêpes.
13 Burton Street
Darlinghurst, NSW 2010
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