|The Lobo Plantation, Clarence Street, Sydney|
Step down the winding staircase into the atmospheric, jovial space and The Lobo Plantation's dedication to the rum is clear, lining several shelves of the back bar.
|Seats at the bar|
Like The Baxter Inn, general manager Jared Merlino (ex ivy Pool) explains that The Lobo Plantation does not take bookings at all; large groups just have to get there early – and damn early on Friday evenings if their first week of trade is anything to go by.
|Raised seating section|
There’s a lovable, hedonistic feel as the venue is decked out as if it were his private refuge: boldly colourful with Caribbean influences and worldly touches of aged, shabby opulence, representing his collections from travels around the globe.
The relevance is all things rum – a spirit made from sugarcane by-products or juice, then typically aged in oak barrels.
Another soft drink plus rum cocktail combination is the Shore to Shore cocktail, featuring American root beer with Havana 3 rum and Angostura bitters, also served tall with lime.
Almost all drinks are served in faceted crystal glassware, including water and rum (neat, on the rocks or otherwise).
But not the coupe-glassed Millionaire cocktail of Appleton VX rum, house-made Lobo liqueur, sloe gin and grenadine which is served with a sour, fruity log rolled up in a miniature bank note print and pegged to the edge of the glass
|Table and banquette seating|
At the extreme other end of the spectrum was the Gosling's Black Seal; a dark rum with sweet caramel and vanilla tones that made it easy enough to drink neat.
|Baked cheese balls with guava dipping sauce|
The food offerings are actually done by Darlinghurst's Food Society, reducing the pressures imposed on the small kitchen and allowing The Lobo Plantation team to focus purely on the drinks and the experience.
|Pork crackling rolled in spice, black pepper, garlic and vinegar side|
Just don't let the crackling dip in the liquid for too long, lest the crunchy, airy pork skin goes soggy.
|Tamales en Cazuela|
They are amazing little packages of varied ingredients and flavours, possibly healthy too. Wet but crumbly polenta (not masa harina as is traditional), corn and pulled pork are steamed within a neat corn husk sheet.
The package is then topped with soft black beans and a beautifully fresh, chopped salsa of cucumber, tomato, coriander and chilli with a bit of kick in the latter. A tomato-ey sauce brings it all together with every mouthful of soft polenta highlighted by at least one of the salsa ingredients.
It's doused in a caramel sauce that has the perfect edge of burnt toffee notes while the hint of coconut flavour I detected in the firm custard was just divine.
|The archway on Clarence Street|
In the meantime I'm more than happy to work through the cocktail and rum menus at The Lobo Plantation, where it's sugar, rum and all things nice.