James Grant and Alex Elliott-Howery are a fortuitous partnership, combining an obsession with coffee and food, respectively. James has worked behind the bar of the city’s busiest espresso outlets for some of Sydney’s best roasters. Alex cooks real, local food. The menu draws on produce raised largely within the Sydney-basin (within an hour’s drive of the café).
Elliott-Howery says, “We wanted to create a space for locals serving down to earth food.” Locals do frequent the light, welcoming corner shop, designed by Smith & Carmody. They come for coffee and toast with honey- baked apricots, ricotta and seeds at breakfast, at lunchtime for meatloaf and a slice of citrus syrup cake, and after school kids line up for mulberry and yoghurt milkshakes. There are also jars of spiced rhubarb ketchup and bread and butter pickles on the shelves.
314 Illawarra Road, Marrickville, + 61 2 8065 0844
Chef Simon Cancio and architect David Abram are also two of Sydney’s most respected DJs. Joining forces with mixologist Marty Campaign (who has worked in Shanghai as GM of M on The Bund’s Glamour Bar), they are energising Sydney’s bar scene with Freda’s, located in Chippendale on the fringe of the CBD. Housed in a former factory, Freda’s reflects the trio’s relaxed party spirit.
“Unlike many Sydney bars it’s not a beer barn, or a nightclub,” says Campaign. “It is more intimate, allowing for lively conversation over great food and cocktails.” Cancio serves simple food influenced by his Lebanese-Spanish heritage, Campaign pours fizzy cocktails with herbal additions and Abram plays Persian tracks right through to US electro.
- 61 2 8971 7336,
Shady Pines Saloon alumni, Jeremy Blackmore and Alex Dowd have seen fit to take up the AU$500 (€400) licence*. “In many bars drinking is focused on the technique of mixing a drink and less about customer experience,” says Dowd, who’s keen to redress the balance. The pair opened Tio’s, a tequila bar by way of Guatemala and Mexico with Catholic icons and neon beer signs. It serves “tinnies” and a Tequila selection par excellence (more than 100), among them special reserve añejos, accompanied by a Chipotle-spiced popcorn snack delivered to a surf-rock soundtrack.
4 Foster St, Surry Hills
*Sydneysiders have mayor Clover Moore to thank for their new drinking dens. In 2009 she made getting an alcohol licence easier.
In 2010 Anton Forte and Jason Scott opened a bar named Shady Pines Saloon in Darlinghurst. Serving whiskey, bourbon and the odd julep, the pair are driven by a love of spirits. Their new, second outpost, The Baxter Inn in the CBD, is cleverly hidden from the inebriated Friday night revelers. Forte says they were inspired by a research trip state-side. “We spent time in Austin, New York and LA and were blown away by the attention to detail, strong concepts and level of service.” Found on an unmarked lane, Baxter stocks more than 360 whiskeys, Australian wines housed in an antique bank vault and piano blues on the stereo.
152-156 Clarence Street,
Buy a bottle of wine and sommelier Enrique Mendoza will let you into the vault to fish it out. He’ll then decant it and talk you through the finer points of what you are drinking.
En route to Baxter Inn, you’ll find Atelier de Vélo. “We are the street front for Baxter,” says co-owner Mike Shaw, who acts as concierge for the hard-to-find bar on a regular basis. Having recently opened this cycling emporium and espresso bar, with business partner Chris Herron, Shaw’s not surprised by the diversity of cycling enthusiasts in these parts. “There are Lycra-clad lawyers in packs and office workers, new to cycling, who commute to work.”
Lord mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore, has added 10km of bike lanes across the city in recent years. Shaw and Herron have transformed the lofty space with pressed-tin ceilings, formerly an antiques showroom, into a hub where cyclists can have their bike serviced or stop for an espresso.
156 Clarence St, Sydney CBD, + 61 2 9045 1204,
Highlights: The wall murals painted by graffiti artist Kerupt, the fast and furious espressos being pulled at the rear of the store and watching the bike mechanic at work in the front window.