Sunday, March 20, 2011

Not so Parched March

There are only 10 days left for Parched March – the ambassadors and participating teams have hit up a bunch of Sydney bars (20 yet? Or more?) to drink and raise money for the nominated charities.

I haven't been to nearly 20 bars in the last 20 days, but here are some of the charity-contributing drinks (and some not) and venues I have visited so far.

Gardel's Bar upstairs at Porteño, Cleveland Street, Surry Hills
It's notoriously difficult to get a table at this Surry Hills hotspot, and with good reason (post to come). But if you need to wait for your table at Porteño, at least wait in comfort and style with a drink in hand at Gardel's Bar.

Above the restaurant and where you'll be looking down enviously onto the 'courtyard' of diners, give them something to be jealous about with an extensive cocktail menu, exotic liquors and syrups, and a stylised intimate space that's very Latino.

Santa Rosa - the Parched March special at Gardel's Bar at Porteño
For Parched March, the Gardel's Bar boys do a gorgeous aperol, blood orange, caramel syrup and lemon juice concoction, served on hand-crafted ice blocks, finished with a dash of grapefruit bitters and orange peel.

With the caramel, it's a divinely sweet drink lightly balanced with sour and bitterness - and utterly drinkable. There also seemed to be a touch of vanilla, with lots of black vanilla bean specks covering the bottom of the large stemless glass.

Argentine Aviation at Gardel's Bar at Porteño
This other cocktail from normal list had a proper Argentine name, which I've forgotten, but was essentially a take on the classic Aviation with gin, maraschino liqueur, lemon juice and a punchy syrup of star anise, which was just a tad overpowering for me.

Special punch of the day - the Parched March special
at Grandma's Bar, Clarence Street, Sydney
One of the newbie small bars also taking part in Parched March is underground Grandma's Bar, which has just the right amount of kitsch, is very hidden and self-described as "retrosexual".

It's decked out with furnishings you'd see at an old aunt's or indeed nanna's home (though not quite as overboard as my old piano teacher's) - and as such, I felt like I was in a familiar place.

A daily punch of the day sits in a punch bowl at the bar, waiting to be ladled into enamelled tin mugs. This particular night it was a two-rum, mango, passionfruit and (apple?) juice punch. Served over lots of ice, I found it a bit tame but certainly refreshing.

Basil Grande at Grandma's Bar
A fruity, sweet cocktail was the basil-garnished Basil Grande. Heavy hitting with vodka, Grand Marnier and Chambord, it was softened with strawberries and cranberry juice for yet another very drinkable glass.

Royal Hawaiian at Grandma's Bar
Still in my gin phase, my next beverage was probably inspired by the wallpaper. The Royal Hawaiian was tropical in looks and taste, featuring gin with lemon and pineapple juice (just enough of each) and a light touch of almond-y orgeat. Somehow it kept nicely cold as I sipped - that, or I drank it faster than I thought.

And as a sidenote, great sustainable thinking with the washbasins in the toilets. I know you'll stop.

Raspberry Moscow Mule at Grandma's Bar
Everyone loves a mule, and this vodka cocktail featured Grandma's own ginger beer dispensed from a soda siphon. Raspberry, lime and mint finish off the tall drink which is ideal on any balmy night or day. (And the butterfly is actually part of the wallpaper, not the drink).

Chicken jaffle at Grandma's Bar
And as part of Parched March's odyssey for responsible drinking, we ordered Grandma's comfort food in the form of jaffles.

I've loved jaffles from a young age (ham and cheese; ham, cheese and tomato; tinned spaghetti and cheese; creamed corn and cheese; or even just cheese and cracked black pepper) - thanks to Grandma's for bringing them back.

We went the chicken version, omitting the onion, so left with a toasty, pre-cut chicken and cheese sandwich with Japanese mayonnaise on the side in a charming glass/crystal dish. Just the snack for cocktails, believe it or not, while other options are biltong or spiced cashew nuts.

Bloody Mary from the Cocktail and Spirits Club, underground
at the Vault, Pitt Street, Sydney
I've only recently tried my first Bloody Mary - and really liked it. It reminds me so much of tomato passata and hence pasta that I actually even feel full drinking the tomato juice cocktail.

Vodka is spiced up with pepper, Worcestershire sauce and just a dash of Tabasco for me, and the celery with the juice puts this cocktail into the healthy part of the food pyramid.

Martini from the Cocktail and Spirits Club
Another only recent cocktail for me is the classic martini; and apparently I like it dry with a twist. No fruity, sugary distractions - just gin, very little vermouth and served icy cold with a lemon twist. It's a very sexy drink and strong too - and doesn't that just go hand in hand.

Mojito from the Cocktail and Spirits Club
The mojito, I think, is a distant cousin of my long-lost pal, the vodka, lime and soda. With white rum, sugar and lots of crushed ice, it's a little more fun - which is what drinking is about these days (as opposed to trying to get sloshed on vodkas - aah, age).

Don't forget, Parched March participating venues are all putting on cocktails and drinks till the end of the month to raise money for the nominated charities, with venues including The Island Bar, Stitch, Sake Restaurant and Bar, Small Bar and The Winery.

The Argyle courtyard for CarnivArgyle, The Rocks, Sydney
And on another drinking note, The Argyle’s huge CarnivArgyle party last week was a Latin fiesta with Brazilian dancers, mojitos and feather boas galore (thanks to The Cru Media for the VIP party invite).

What a way to celebrate a month of Latin-inspired activities for the rest of March, including free samba classes every Thursday night (details here).

The Belvedere Bar upstairs at The Argyle

A cinnamon rim!

Tequila cocktail


I've always loved the light fittings at The Argyle

Brazilian dancers for CarnivArgyle

More dancers
(Photo courtesy of The Cru Media)

The beautiful courtyard

Porteño on Urbanspoon

Grandma's Bar on Urbanspoon

The Argyle on Urbanspoon


sugarpuffi said...

wow! that is a lot of alcomohol <3

MissPiggy said...

Yay Jaffles. So glad they're making a comeback. Grandma's Bar looks like loads of fun.

Dumpling Girl said...

Love the concept of the cinnamon rim, sounds delicious.

Corinne @ Gourmantic said...

20 bars in 20 days, I admire your effort! :) I should make a note of Perched March in next year's calendar - looks like a good line up to choose from!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

OMG jaffles! I do love a jaffle but I don't have a sandwich maker here anymore :( And retrosexual is a new term for me! :P

Tina said...

Hi sugarpuffi - It wasn't ALL mine... ;)

Hi MissPiggy - Jaffles make it fun!

Hi Dumpling Girl - Yes, I though it was rather unique!

Hi Corinne - No, I haven't done 20! The PM teams are supposed to though...

Hi Lorraine - Seems like everyone loves a jaffle! :)

hollypop said...

these pics are so awesome.
the cocktails are making me thirsty!
i think i love cocktails a little too much.

susan said...

yum jaffles, I used to love mine with leftover spag bol sauce and cheese, best thing ever!

Tina said...

Hi hollypop - Thanks :)

Hi susan -They're just great and so versatile, aren't they?!


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