It has been a while, but small bar articles have returned. Button bar is final bar in the City East and in the following weeks The Versatile Gent will present the final of the small bar series, looking at both the Northern Beaches and City West.
65 Foveaux Street
Chris Lehoux and Karl Schlothauer are well-known hospitality folk in Sydney, as they are the creators of 3 magnificent small bars; Pocket Bar, Stitch and now Button Bar (I know there is a theme somewhere..). Similar to a pirate ship hull, Button Bar is dark, very wooden and lined with nautical paraphernalia with the ceiling and wall of the entrance lined completely with wooden slats. The entrance is easy to find and only a short walk from Central Station, across the road from the KB Hotel.
You are given a few options as far seating is concerned. Take up a stool on the long communal table, or possibly stay at the bar, close the to the bartenders and free pistachios. You also have the option, if you’re quick, of taking up a booth, lined with leather cushions and brass ornaments. If you are indeed one of the lucky few, then table service is available, with the bar staff happy to fulfil any possible order. While at this stage you may be thinking, ‘Yo Ho, Yo Ho, a pirate’s life for me’ must be playing as background music, instead, the likes of Eric Clapton and Muddy Waters oozes out of the small speakers perched in the corners of the room.
The cocktail menu is a concise 3 pages, with the topography particularly pirate themed. Rum and Whiskey (of course) make up a large counterpart of the menu with prices ranging from $9.50 to $19.50. The majority of cocktail options appeared quite sweet, with lots of juices and syrups. A broad selection of craft lagers and ales is available, local and international, as well as Dirty Granny and The Hill’s cider. On top of the cocktail list, Button Bar has a solid Whisky list of bourbon, scotch, blended and rye as well as a long list of about 60 different rums. They also offer a selection of 30 different gins and vodka. As far as wine and champagne is concerned, the standard Veuve and Moet is available as well as a small selection of red and white wines from the last 3 years with prices ranging from $30-$49.
In sticking with the theme, I tried a Pleasure Vessel ($17) consisting of Appleton dark rum, Grand Marnier, orange marmalade, fresh grapefruit, lemon juice and orange blossom water, served in a chilled crystal tumbler. When I queried about this cocktail, the bartender described it as a good mix of sweet and sour, which was more or less how it was. While a little on the sweet side, the orange marmalade went well with the Appleton rum, the texture of the marmalade easily distinguishable within the drink. Spirits on the rocks are served with huge chunks of ice, to help minimise your drink from becoming diluted. Next up was the Smoking Gun ($19), a mixture of Glenmorangie blended with camomile liqueur and honey. While it was again quite sweet, it really was a delicious combination of flavours with the camomile liqueur bringing a lot of floral flavours.
If you want food you’re better off heading somewhere else, as the closest thing to food in Button Bar is the free pistachio nuts at the bar. However don’t fret, there are plenty of takeaway joints and eateries around the corner, this is Surry Hills, remember?
While table service can be very slow during peak hour, the cocktail and spirit list has depth and the service is excellent. The wooden décor brings plenty of warmth and the atmosphere is lively. For a rum and whiskey filled journey of the high seas of City East, button bar is a must.
Go if: Table service, warm feel and sweet cocktails
Stay at home if: You want food and a quiet night
All images sourced from their respective Facebook and website.