After much anticipation, Kittyhawk, the second venue from the award winning Lobo Plantation team has opened this week.
Kittyhawk is no speakeasy. You’ll easily find its imposing khaki façade at the corner of Phillip and Bent Street in Sydney CBD at the site previously occupied by Ball and Bear and Bondys.
You’ll be welcomed at the door like an old friend and once you enter the venue, you’ll pass through a narrow corridor and you need to find the secret entrance to the bar. It’s all part of the experience so we won’t spoil it for you.
Once you’ve made it inside, you’ll stop in awe as you admire the interior that transports you to post WWII in the 1940s. There is seating at the 12 metre long bar to accommodate 27 persons,
an elevated section for table service reminiscent of The Lobo Plantation,
semi-circular booths ideal for large groups huddling over a few cocktails and bar food,
a coveted private table code named the “cockpit”,
and an intimate section facing the street that feels like a stately home.
Towards the rear of the venue, you’ll find a collection of bottles. Kittyhawk has a liquor license and will soon sell alcohol including its own rye and rum which come clothed in Hessian wrap.
If you’re familiar with the attention to detail at the Lobo Plantation, you’ll marvel at the little touches that complete the picture at Kittyhawk including the styling of the bathrooms. The interior design by AZBCreative is a veritable time capsule from which you don’t want to leave.
Kittyhawk has assembled a stellar team of bartenders. You may recognise some of them from various popular venues around Sydney.
The drinks focus is on rum and rye, often appearing together in cocktails. The menu is housed in a dossier style folder for “official use only” with Pilot’s Flight Operating Instructions for Kittyhawk IV Airplanes dated 10 April 1943.
The cocktails are illustrated in schematics much like prototypes or engineering diagrams. The list is 19 strong including a page dedicated to lighter styles of drinks including an Aperitif on Tap.
Start with Tommy Hellfire, made with Archie Rose White Rye, lemon juice, agave, jalapeno brine and hellfire bitters, shaken and served in a rocks glass with a jalapeno garnish. Bright, big on citrus with agave notes and a touch of heat, the rye initially seems to take a back seat before it lingers beautifully on the finish with creaminess and a touch of spice. Tommy Hellfire is a good aperitif style of drink to stimulate the senses if you like a little heat.
Rye and Ginger
The Rye and Ginger ($20) takes your taste buds to the tropics with a combination of rye with fresh lime, pineapple ginger beer in a cool mug garnished with a mini pineapple. Strong tropical notes with pineapple and ginger at the fore increase in intensity and linger with with warm spices – an ideal drink to sip on in summer or winter.
L-R: Berries 3 Ways, Polynesian Pearl Diver
Some of the cocktails come with novel garnishes such as the Berries 3 Ways ($19) garnished with a cabbage leaf and an edible Lego man and the rum-based Polynesian Pearl Diver ($19) with a scuba diver figurine.
The Dirty Bopper ($19) manages to take hickory smoked rye and turn it into an elegant drink with brown oleo saccharum, citric passionfruit fortified with apricot brandy and Stones Green ginger wine with fresh mint. The smoke in the rye is gentle and omnipresent, a drink that can sway anyone into enjoying rye whiskey cocktails.
From the more spirit-forward drinks comes the excellent Monte Carlo ($19), boozy and bright with rye, Dom Benedictine and Angostura Bitters – a three ingredient cocktail that is a sipper, one to enjoy again on repeat visits.
Don’t leave without ordering the Nuclear Daiquirye ($23), a boozy libation with high proof Archie Rose White Rye (55% ABV), Wray and Nephew overproof rum (63% ABV) with yellow Chartreuse, fresh lime and falernum. You may be drinking a combination of two high ABV spirits but the cocktail is a taste sensation, remarkably smooth and perfectly balanced. This is the one to leave until the end, though you may be tempted to order another.
The food menu at Kittyhawk has been afforded the same level of attention to detail as the venue and the cocktails. Chef Jason Wright hails form Scotland and his creative menu transforms French style cuisine into French-influenced bar food.
Onion Soup Sticks
Take the Onion Soup Sticks ($12). Crisp, flaky pastry melts in the mouth releasing a warm filling of roast eschallot bechamel with Gruyere cheese. Dip them into the beef jus for a richer taste sensation.
Spanner Crab Bun
The Spanner Crab Bun ($18) are set to become a popular choice with fresh, sustainable green spanner crab on butter brioche with celery remoulade, horseradish aioli, cripsy capers and celery leaves.
Other temptations include the Mussels Vol au Vent set in a buttery puff pastry tart, Scotch Eggs with crispy duck egg wrapped in confit duck leg sausage and the lightest Baba au Rhum soaked in a sweet spiced rum syrup.
The team from the Lobo Plantation has done it again. Not only is Kittyhawk an exciting addition to the Sydney cocktail bar scene, it adds a new experience and a unique ambience to Sydney’s nightlife. Whether you’re after a quiet drink with a friend to catch up on life, sitting with mates at the bar or you’re a small group huddling in booths, Kittyhawk ticks all the right boxes. Period music remains in the background never competing with conversations and the bar exudes warmth and hospitality as if it has been operating for years.
Kittyhawk is a venue that you visit and lose your sense of time, the kind of place that draws you in from the moment you step inside and doesn’t let you leave.
16 Phillip Lane, Sydney CBD (Corner of Bent & Phillip Street, Sydney)
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