Thursday, November 10, 2011

Hinky Dinks, a dink a do...

The revival of the old school - anything retro, beyond the 1980s, 'vintage' - makes me wonder what will be considered 'old school' in another 10 years' time. There doesn't seem to be anything in the 1990s that would be revived as fashionable or cool; though I guess we can only wait and see.

Complimentary spiced popcorn at Hinky Dinks, Darlinghurst Road, Darlinghurst
Hinky Dinks is a retro-styled bar that could pass as a 1950s milk bar but also serves killer cocktails and some pretty decent eats. It was created by the guys behind this blog about opening a small bar in Sydney - and they have obviously reached their goal. When they say small bar, they kind of mean it, so get there early if you plan to imbibe on a Friday or Saturday night.

Booths and more spaced out lounge seats dominate the cosy space, but the bar seats are where the action happens: from the shaking and garnishing to the refilling of complimentary paper cups of popcorn flavoured with a moreish herb and spice mix, which I could eat endlessly.

Madagascar Manhattan
There's a good variety of cocktails that could all easily become signatures of the bar, especially the deadly Zombie of which patrons are only allowed a maximum of two per night. It's responsible service with a liberal shots of fun at Hinky Dinks. One glance behind the bar and you know there's some impressive experience in those hands that shake up cocktails so efficiently.

The Madagascar Manhattan is an exotic twist on the heavy-hitting classic, featuring bourbon infused with vanilla (the Madagascan connection?) and citrus peel stirred with sweet vermouth, agave and chocolate bitters.

It was hard not to feel a little 'vintage' with the pretty crystal glassware, though the maraschino cherry and popcorn brought it back to somewhat more recent times.

Gin 'n' Jam
I hadn't quite expected such a frothy, girly drink when I ordered my Gin 'n' Jam, though I probably should have figured with the use of house made rose petal jam as an ingredient.

Here, Bombay Sapphire gin and Aperol were shaken with the mentioned jam, lemon, cranberry bitters and egg white for the blushingly gorgeous drink, garnished with a few rose petals. The bitter Aperol features prominently in this light cocktail that would be ideal pre-food.

Gypsy Blood
A cool, tall drink is the Gypsy Blood, just one of a few cocktail names at Hinky Dinks that would fit right in for a Halloween theme.

While it's of a red hue, there's nothing squeamish about the mix of Amaro, an Italian herbal liqueur, fresh lime, pineapple syrup, peach bitters and grapefruit soda. This was my second drink although I think it's probably best to start with the long drinks on ice ahead of those served up.

Pan fried olive and parmesan sandwich
Aside from cocktails, there's also a one-page wine list that traverses the sub $100 mark quite broadly and an interesting list of bar food with a menu designed by Laif Etournaud. It's then no wonder that I faced the temptation, again, of a pan fried olive and parmesan sandwich, which I first encountered at Gotham (where Etournaud also consulted on the menu).

Hinky Dinks' olive and parmesan toastie was a savoury delight, especially after the sugar of the cocktails. A salty black olive tapenade with salty melted cheese on crunchy grilled bread has to be as close to the perfect bar snack there is.

Fried squid with aioli
The squid was fried to a pale, soft texture although this was forgiven with the inspired addition of whole leaves of parsley and basil. The freshness from the herbs was an exhilarating twist on same-old fried squid, while the aioli added a welcome touch of richness.

The food we ordered came from the 'peckish' section of the menu and there are just three more substantial eats and a couple of desserts, so it's definitely more your drinking than eating kind of parlour.

The Darlinghurst crowd was definitely enjoying itself in one of the area's newest offerings although given the very limited space at Hinky Dinks, there were a fair few turned away or told to return later. The vibe is relaxed but stylish, matched well by the sophisticated drinks and service, the popcorn and also the huge bowl of complimentary mints at the bar. Hinky Dinks goes to show that good old fashioned fun never goes out of style.

Hinky Dinks on Urbanspoon


gastronomous anonymous said...

the pan fried olive and parmesan sandwich looks very much like a nutella sandwich! had to look twice!

the squid looks good though! yum!

Rita (mademoiselle délicieuse) said...

Loving the kitschy retro glasses and the cute-as paper cupcake cases used to serve the complimentary spiced popcorn. A nice twist on the usual nuts and pretzels.

And that olive and parmesan toastie puts the cheesey toast from my Sizzler days to absolute shame - remember those?!

Dumpling Girl said...

Love the fun vibe and the frothy girliness of the Gin 'n' Jam.

Lorraine not Quite Nigella said...

Cute place! Although I think I'm more of the eating rather than drinking variety :)

Dee said...

Nice! Didn't realise they served other food items beside the toastie. Keen to try the zombie cocktail though I guess it would get messy quickly.

MissPiggy said...

Why did I ever move out of Darlinghurst? Seriously, I'm a dope!

Tina said...

Hi gastronomous anonymous - Haha, you'd get a shock tasting it if you thought it was Nutella!!!

Hi Rita - Do I?! I used to live for those cheesy toasts at Sizzler. And the bacon bits at the salad bar. And the self serve soft serve ice cream...

Hi Dumpling Girl - That was a pretty good pick; I'm sure it's one of the more popular drinks.

Hi Lorraine - Everything in moderation ;)

Hi Dee - There's a fair bit of bar food to choose from at Hinky Dinks. The mere idea of the Zombie scares me a little...

Hi MissPiggy - It'd be awesome living round there, though would perhaps lack in peace and quiet..?

Lucas said...

I'm leaning more towards the cocktails than the food (not a fan of olives) and I am all about the retro kitsch. Wonder if they have any tiki stuff?

Tina said...

Hi Lucas - I belive there are some tiki cocktails on the menu. The Zombie for one...


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