Helm Bar, Darling Harbour

Helm Bar

Happy Friday everyone! With only a few hours left until the weekend, what better way to celebrate than a post full of cocktails?

Helm Bar's new cocktail list

I’m definitely more of a cocktail/spirits kind of girl rather than beer or wine, and with Sir D being a true cocktail enthusiast I’ve tried and made my fair share of cocktails in the past. But like food, it’s always refreshing to come across new flavour combinations and twists on old classics in cocktails, and the new cocktail list at Helm Bar offers exactly that.

Matt, Helm Bar bartender

Meet Matt. He was our bartender for the morning at Helm Bar, and he mixed up a range of cocktails for us to try. Even though I consider myself to be reasonably well-versed in the world of spirits, he was very knowledgeable and I managed to try a few different spirits that I’d never tasted before and sample some unlikely flavour combinations.

Espresso martini - $17

Bleary-eyed from the previous nights shenanigans, an espresso martini was a welcome pick-me-up/hangover cure to start the morning. Made with Smirnoff vodka, Tuaca (a vanilla and citrus flavoured brandy) and of course, real coffee, the espresso martini was shook up over ice and poured into a martini glass. The foam at the top is actually created purely by the shaking of the liquids rather than from the addition of any milk. Some extra roasted coffee beans were added on top for an extra caffeine hit.

Senorita margarita - $16

Tequila is sometimes stigmatised as one of those spirits that is there just for shots, burning the throat and getting absolutely wasted, but after trying shots of tequila sipped over the rocks and included in cocktails, I’ve definitely changed my perception of this spirit. The senorita margarita includes Jose Cuervo Tradicional (it looks like the nasty stuff, but isn’t), St Germain (an elderflower liqueur), lemon and lime juice and agave syrup as a sweetener. It’s served in a salt rimmed martini glass and as much as I love my margaritas, I find this one is too acidic for me.

Sexy Saint - $18

The sexy saint gets its name from the use of St Germain liqueur. The chilli is there because this cocktail actually packs quite a bit of heat with chilli, honey and lemon juice shaken into the mix. I only have a sip through a straw and it’s a slow burn, with the chilli slowly overtaking your mouth but is pleasantly sweet from the elderflower and honey flavours.

Matt pouring out tasting glasses for us to sample the cocktails

Now before you all start judging me from drinking copiously before noon, we only had a little taste of each cocktail as a small amount was poured into separate glasses. Everything in moderation, people!

Ginny Hendricks - $18

I was determined not to like this cocktail – Aperol, cucumber and ruby grapefruit juice are all things I don’t like in my drinks – but surprisingly they worked exceedingly well together and this ended up being one of my favourite cocktails of the day. The Ginny Hendricks name comes from the use of Hendricks gin, which is shaken with Aperol (a type of bitters), muddled cucumber, lime juice, sugar syrup and ruby red grapefruit juice.

Oriental Sweet Tart - $17

The oriental sweet tart features Plymouth gin, Paraiso (a lychee liqueur) and pear liqueur with lemon juice and orgeat syrup (an almond syrup). Although the flavours sounded interesting, I thought this cocktail was very unbalanced and tended towards the sickly sweet side of things.

Unnamed cocktail

Yes this cocktail doesn’t have a name yet – and that’s because Helm Bar is running a competition to name this cocktail. Containing Smirnoff citrus-flavoured vodka, Diasronno Originale (a brand of amaretto – almond liqueur), passionfruit juice and lime juice, it’s shaken and served in a tall glass with a heap of ice. I wasn’t a big fan of this cocktail because I don’t like almond flavoured things, but other people certainly enjoyed it. To enter the competition, head on over to the Helm Bar Facebook page – every entry gets a free cocktail and the winner received a $100 voucher to spend at Helm Bar.

Helm Bar upper level

Enough about the drinks – this is a food blog after all so let’s hear about the food!

Peking duck pancakes and Antipasto plate - $18

We start off with an antipasto plate containing double smoked ham off the bone, salami, two wedges of Tasmanian brie, cornichons, walnuts and olives as well as some peking duck pancakes on the side.

Tempura prawns with wasabi mayonnaise and chicken chimichangas

Our second platter held some deep fried tempura prawns with a wasabi mayonnaise for dipping. Sadly there was only enough for one per person because I could have eaten the whole plate. The chicken chimichangas were topped with a quenelle of mashed avocado and was slightly spicy.

Wedges - $8 and Garlic bread - $7

Nothing like a bowl of crispy wedges with sour cream and sweet chilli sauce to soak up all the alcohol! The garlic bread was also deliciously buttery.

Salmon with crushed kipfler potatoes, fennel, olive and chilli salsa - $24

This was a canape-sized version of a main dish on the Helm Bar menu. The dish was beautifully presented but unfortunately it came out at room temperature and I think it would have been a lot nicer if it was hot. The salmon was cooked so that it was still rare in the centre.

Chargrilled Black Angus sirloin steak with hand cut fat chips, salad and cafe de paris butter - $25

I was getting super full at this stage but managed to find room for some steak and I’m glad I did! The steak was a perfect medium rare and wonderfully juicy, and I will definitely be ordering this if I come back to Helm Bar.

Salt and pepper squid - $18

Lastly, the salt and pepper squid arrived on the table. Fresh from the fryer, these were piping hot and served with two dipping sauces – a lime aioli and a nahm jim sauce. We were well-fed with food and drinks, making for a very happy table of food bloggers! Don’t forget to enter the Helm Bar cocktail competition for your free cocktail and your chance to win a $100 voucher!

Penguin says Feed Me dined at Helm Bar courtesy of Wasamedia.

Helm Bar and Bistro
Aquarium Wharf,
Wheat Road, Darling Harbour
Sydney NSW 2000
Ph: +61 2 9290 1571

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