Thursday, March 24, 2011

Tiki time at Zeta Bar, Hilton Sydney

Zeta's Summer Tiki Bar, Zeta Bar, Hilton Sydney, George Street
I don't know if it can actually be done, but Hilton Sydney's Zeta Bar is trying to extend summer. And I'm all for it, especially if it involves tasty cocktails and entertainment that ends the working week on a tropical note.

Piña coladas served in young coconuts

Piña colada served in coconut shell
Every Friday evening from now until Easter (that is, 15 April will be the last night), Zeta Bar is pulling on the Hawaiian shirts and tunes, and getting behind the authentic 1940s bamboo tiki bar imported from Hawaii to serve up tiki-inspired cocktails in the usual innovative Zeta style.

We start on coconuts, with umbrellas of course, filled with a smooth and creamy Piña Colada - coconut-y more so than pineapple juice-y - and a seriously big serving size. Who knew a coconut could hold so much yummy, boozy beverage?

Rum punch to share
Zeta Bar mixologist Grant Collins seems to take great pride and pleasure in coming up with the bar's seasonal concepts, especially when they involve liquid nitrogen.

Grant Collins and liquid nitrogen
Here he brings liquid nitrogen to our table, pouring it onto our shared rum punches, freezing the top layers while chilling my exposed feet at the same time. The table is left steamy and smoky, and the drink cold.

Fresh daily pressed sugar cane mojito
I'm impressed with the sugar cane mojito, with freshly extracted, sweet goodness from real sugar cane from a press out the back.

Along with light rum, lime, mint and a sugar cane stirrer, I'm a happy camper with this refreshing drink that can be followed with a good chew on the sugar cane stick stirrer.

Grant Collins strains a Mai Tai into a hollowed pineapple
I'd never had a drink out of a pineapple, even in Hawaii, so my 'drinking out of a pineapple' skills are limited. I had no idea such a large, hollowed out fruit could be used, nor would I have expected it to be frozen - to keep the drink, and one's hands, very cool.

Zeta Mai Tai
This Mai Tai has light and dark rum, orange curacao, orgeat syrup, pineapple juice, Angostura bitters and a big, girly-friendly hit of sugar syrup. And apparently the colourful paper umbrella is a requisite too, though I can't say the same about the sparkler.

Grant Collins presents the Zeta Mai Tai

Grant Collins presents a Long Island snow cone
The snow cone would more likely be called shave ice in Hawaii, and would be a finer shaving too. Nonetheless, this is doused with a Long Island syrup and isn't so much boozy as playful and cooling.

Dispensing piña colada foam
Certainly playful are the nitro puffs that they seem to adore pulling off at Zeta Bar. Here, Piña Colada foam comes out of the cream siphon and goes for a dip in a liquid nitrogen bath.

'Cooking' the piña colada puff
It's all rather mystical as the white puff disappears beneath billowing white smoke, cooling the air and the anticipation until - voila - it's fished out and garnished for your immediate consumption.

Piña colada nitro puff
Advice on consumption is easy: place the entire puff in the mouth, let it melt and exhale out the nose. It is cold and tongue-numbing, but not as bad as minus 28 degrees would sound.

Amid the fizz, the coconut flavour comes through the strongest and by the time any other flavours come through, you'll probably be too busy laughing or trying to defrost your tongue to notice. Fun and definitely recommended to change up the regular Friday night drinks.

Mojito sorbet in a miniature cone
The Zeta sorbet bar makes a comeback tiki style. This time, the sweet ices are tiki cocktails, like Piña Colada, Mai Tai, Dark and Stormy, Margarita, Zombie and even Rum and Coke.

I think the mojito is the hands-down winner, minty fresh with lime and barely a hint of rum. Grant tells us that the snow cones, nitro puffs and sorbet both have very little alcohol content, and are more about new and fun cocktail experiences than say, getting trashed on cocktails.

Piña Colada sorbet
Every week also sees tropical-styled entertainment, such as hula girls or last week's steel drummers who put a smile on every face they passed through the bar.

Steel drummers
This indeed is escapism. After the hard slog of a weeks' work, everyone deserves a tropical island getaway - and this is likely to be the fastest, cheapest option for most. With four Friday nights to go for Zeta's Summer Tiki Bar, the extended summer countdown is well and truly on.

Zeta's Summer Tiki Bar menu
(Photo courtesy of Zeta Bar)
Food, booze and shoes was treated to a tropical escape and copious amounts of booze with thanks to Zeta Bar, Grant Collins and Horizon Communication Group.

Zeta Bar on Urbanspoon


joey@FoodiePop said...

Anything that extends summer is good as far as I'm concerned. Unless it involves bad Hawaiian shirts and humidity. :-)

MissPiggy said...

Oh wow, that sounds like so much fun! All of the cocktails sound drinking stuff out of!

susan said...

I like the idea of drinking out of fruit containers. They are so much bigger than glasses!

Helen (Grab Your Fork) said...

Does the age of the customer determine whether your pina colada is served in a young or mature coconut? lol. And I had a total flashback to Michael Scott from The Office :)

john@heneedsfood said...

Funny Helen should mention the old and young coconuts because I was given the coconut shell and you guys got the young coconuts!

OohLookBel said...

The mixologist looks like the Skipper from Gilligan's Island, and the nitro puff sounds cool (cool, geddit??)

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

What a shame I'm such a lightweight on cocktails!

sugarpuffi said...

oh dammit! if i read this yesterday, i wouldve be at the zeta bar right now and not commenting here :(

Tina said...

Hi joey - With you on the humidity...

Hi MissPiggy - The coconuts are lotsa fun!

Hi susan - The coconuts seemed neverending...!

Hi Helen - I don't think the coconuts discriminate

Hi John - As abov ;)

Hi Bel - Freezing cool :)

Hi Lorraine - I'm sure they'd do you a mocktail in a pineapple!

Hi sugarpuffi - There's always next Friday :)

Anonymous said...

Fun & yummy stuff!

Tina said...

Hi lateraleating - Sure is, especially the coconuts!

Gianna@TheEmptyFridge said...

woo hoo! heading here tomorrow night and i'm definitely getting into those pina coladas!
that mai tai looks insanely huge!

Tina said...

Hi Gianna - Hope you had lots of 'tiki' fun!


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