2. Eau De Vie
229 Darlinghurst Road
Hidden away at the back of the unassuming Kirketon Hotel, is Eau De Vie. As I entered, quiet jazz played in the background, at a perfect level for conversation, accompanied by the slight aroma of buttery popcorn. Eau De Vie, French for ‘water of life’, opened in early 2010 and has since won countless awards including the Australian Bar Awards’: ‘the best new bar’ and ‘bar of the year’, in 2010 and 2011 respectively, and was even voted the 13th best bar in the world by Drinks International. Eau de Vie is almost strictly a cocktail bar, and possibly one of the best, as the awards suggest.
Step through the doors and you are transported back 90 years to the 1920’s, where underground speakeasies sold alcohol and partook in depravity. High table seating makes up the centre of the room, while couches and chairs line the base of the walls. Glass cabinets cover the walls, filled with rare spirits, vintage ornaments and personal liquor bottles. If you’re a regular you may even purchase a bottle of spirits and lease a cabinet space. Similar to Baxter Inn, Palmer and Co., Shady Pines and many others, Eau de Vie has adopted a prohibition theme characterised by dark vintage décor, candles and decadent cocktails. While the prohibition period was arguably the worst decade for cocktails in the United States ever, Eau De Vie is far from that.
Upon entering Eau De Vie, a well-dressed gentleman warmly greeted me and queried to what kind of drinks I was interested in. Since I wasn’t too sure, he quickly filled me in on his favourites, some must try cocktails and to-die-for combinations. My mind was made up reasonably quickly after that. Like the cocktails here, the service at Eau De Vie is impeccable. While many Sydney bars prioritise drinks, with service coming in second place, Eau De Vie has made sure that their quality of service is as good as, if not better than, the quality of their drinks. It is clear that the bartenders lie at the centre of Eau De Vie. Their passion, knowledge, attention to detail and professionalism are what makes Eau De Vie an outstanding and award winning bar. If you’re after something that’s not listed on the extensive menu, they’re more than happy to accommodate. These gentlemen design and serve up drinks that are in a class of their own, offering an incomparable spirit selection and personalised service.
Individually Bottled Zacapa Old Fashioned -(Pure Class)
At 22-odd pages, the drinks menu is far from concise, yet not overwhelming, meticulously compiled by the talented bar team. With matching pencil-drawn illustrations, it’s portioned into several headings including: Eau De Vie Favourites, Booze and Bites, Shared Experiences and ‘Shaken, Thrown, Stirred and Flamed’. The first cocktail on the Eau De Vie favourites list is the highly acclaimed ‘The Noble Experiment’ ($20), an ice-cold dirty martini, served with either Tanqueray 10 or Ketel One vodka, mixed in front of you and chilled by liquid nitrogen – yes, liquid nitrogen. The liquid nitrogen ensuring that the martini is served at the perfect temperature, something regular ice cannot always achieve. I later sampled another signature drink of Eau De Vie, the Yuzu Mule ($19), a variation of a classic Moscow Mule. Smirnoff Black, Yuzu curd, honey, orange juice and house-made ginger beer are used to construct this concoction, which is served in a copper mug a recreation of the vessel originally used to serve The Mule in 1940. Deliciously flavoursome, the spice of the ginger beer and viscosity of the Yuzu curd leaving a lingering taste on your tongue.
The Negrizzle – Eau De Vie’s take on the classic Negroni.
Food wise, the menu is small, consisting of light bites, small plates and cheeses. The aromas I smelt earlier where not just my mind playing tricks on me. An Eau De Vie speciality is the buttered popcorn with rosemary and pecorino salt ($7). The serving size was small but it was salty enough to drag me back to the bar for cocktails – very sneaky. The Charcuterie and Salumi boards ($24) are also popular with large groups of friends. Available with a broad range of smoked and cured meats, all served with olives, grissini and toast.
Whether you come for the drinks or the atmosphere, Eau De Vie is an absolute delight. With the delicious and unique cocktails, combined with exemplary personal service, it is easy to see why Eau De Vie is the best in its class.
Go if: You want the pinnacle of drinking in Sydney
Stay at home if: You’re on a shoestring budget