Because we have a decent selection of spirits and mixers at home, we rarely go out to drink. Making drinks at home gives us the flexibility to make what we like, when we like – without the hefty price tag that often comes with cocktails. But sometimes, it’s worth the money to get the professionals to make something different that just might surprise and delight you, and we definitely found that at Pocket Bar.
We arrived at 7pm on a Friday night, and the place was already buzzing. The alcohol shelves behind the bar hold a massive range of spirits, and the extensive drinks list reflects that.
It takes us a while to read all the cocktails on offer but eventually we choose our poisons of choice. Sir D chooses “Day of the Dead” – a tequila-based cocktail with grapefruit bitters and vanilla sugar. The 1800 anejo tequila is aged so doesn’t have the same harshness as white tequilas, and you can taste citrus notes from the grapefruit and orange peel. Call me a sucker for novelty, but I’m most impressed with the sphere of ice that swirls around in the glass. Having the ice in a sphere shape cools your drink without diluting it as much as ice cubes. Genius!
It’s a bit early in the night to be saying “take your clothes off” but if you want this cocktail, you’ll have to say it to order it! This is another tequila-based cocktail, but this time it is the un-aged blanco tequila that is used. I usually find this a bit strong, but the agave honey, lime juice, pear puree and cinnamon tones it down and makes it quite easy to drink.
Jaypee decides to go for the Tiki Times (in the English undergrowth) cocktail which is mai-tai inspired but given a gin twist. The Appleton rum base is mixed with Haymans Old Tom and sloe gins, and ruby grapefruit juice. Despite the 3 spirits within this cocktail, it doesn’t taste overwhelmingly of alcohol and is actually quite sweet.
We decide that it’s best to get some food in our stomachs before all the alcohol goes to our head, and there’s lots to choose from on Pocket Bar’s menu. The menu is inspired by street food from all around the world so it’s a great snack-like accompaniment to the drinks. First up are the cassava chips with salsa huancaína. We had no idea what salsa huancaína was but it turned out to be a spicy cheese sauce with queso fresco and aji amarillo chili peppers. It was a bit pungent for some but I loved it, especially with the fat fried batons of cassava.
I knew I had to get the crispy mac n cheese balls. I mean, it’s deep fried mac n cheese! Needless to say, they are golden spheres of deliciousness filled with a cheesy, carb-y pasta mixture. I didn’t think you could improve on the dish but the crispy mac n cheese balls are served with a house made bourbon and bacon jam which is crazy good.
It’s time for our second round, and Sir D goes for the Delicious Sour. This concoction has applejack, peach brandy and lemon juice, making it a fruity punch-like cocktail. Applejack isn’t something I’ve had before, but it is an alcohol produced from apples, similar to cider but stronger. It imparts a sweet apple flavour to the drink which is complemented by the sliced apple garnish.
You can’t go wrong with a Raspberry Mojito either, with Bacardi Gold rum, muddled raspberries and mint.
The Pocket martini is also a fruity twist on a normal martini, with a vodka base and fresh passionfruit, orange and pineapple juice and pomegranate. I find regular martinis too strong for my liking, so this was a toned down version with a citrus flavour.
I asked one of the staff what cocktail they would recommend, and was told that the No Money No Honey cocktail created by one of Pocket Bar’s bartenders has won an award. Ordering it was a no brainer and this cocktail also has that cool sphere of ice in it! More importantly though, the cocktail comes with a generous chunk of house made honeycomb stuck in it which is where the honey flavour comes from. While it’s tempting to nibble on the honeycomb, it’s better to mix it with the Glenmorangie whisky, Amaro Montenegro, orange bitters and Lillet in the glass to make a smooth, honeyed drink.
We’re still hungry so we order some more substantial items from the street food menu. First, we travel to Lebanon with the lamb gyros, which has tender BBQ lamb shoulder, tabouli, pickles and a zesty tzatziki on soft pita, served with chips.
I’m intrigued by the tamales which are wrapped in corn husks and served with an awesome corn salsa. Inside the husks, there’s a parcel made of maize flour containing ancho pulled pork. Some of us aren’t too enamoured by the grainy texture of the maize, but when eaten with the pork it provides a bit of texture to an otherwise soft dish.
We move from Mexico to the USA with the crispy shrimp po boy. The baguettes are stuffed with crispy school prawns, fresh tomato, lettuce and a spicy Creole remoulade. You need to be a bit careful when eating this dish as the school prawns might stab your mouth, but apart from that it’s pretty delicious.
The last of our food items is the steamed pork buns. The fluffy steamed bao holds a generous piece of caramelised pork belly, cucumber, hoisin sauce and shallots. The pork belly is a tad salty on its own but is balanced out when eaten with the hoisin and the bun.
Aside from the awesome drinks and food, the staff at Pocket Bar are super friendly and helpful, and make you feel at home. Several times throughout the night, we spot staff members going around to all the customers to make sure everything is ok and just to have a friendly chat. The place is pumping by the time we leave around 10ish and judging from the food, drinks and all around hospitality, it’s not hard to see why.
Penguin says Feed Me dined courtesy of Pocket Bar
13 Burton St
Sydney NSW 2010
Ph: +61 2 9380 7002
Open 7 days, 4pm til late