Tuesday, September 6, 2011

GSMS - Balmain Cafe #1

Although this is the second post of the Great Sydney Martini Search, and the first post was about the fourth bar, this post is about the first and second bars, which weren’t bars but cafes.

If you need me to repeat that, I will but I cannot promise it will make any more sense the second time it did the first time around.

The first two bars (cafes) that we visited were pretty much as soon as I got of a red eye flight, which should explain the puffy eye and airplane hair. My friend lives in this cute little neighbourhood called Balmain. It is surrounded by the Sydney harbour on three sides and overlooks the skyline, Harbour Bridge and the tops of the Opera House.

We were eager to get started on the Martini Search, so we headed out across the street to a little cafe, the name of which I do not recall.

We asked the host if we could get a couple martinis. He looked at his watch, looked at us and said, “Now?”

He face looked a bit confused. You could see his mind ticking over and then surrendered, “Sure, have a seat. I will make you some martinis!” Then he got really excited.

“What kind of martinis were you after?”

“The kind with vodka, dirty & three olives,” I said.

He looked confused again. “Not gin?”

I am going to make a sidenote here that I am not interested in starting that whole boring debate as to which is a more traditional martini, gin or vodka. The fact of the matter is that vodka is more commonly used in the US and gin is more commonly used in the UK & British Commonwealth countries.

I prefer vodka.

About 20 minutes later, the host came back with the martinis, looking as proud as a father showing off his newborn twins.

That is correct. You see in the picture before you, two glasses filled with ice, topped with a metal bowl (normally used for dips) with three skewered olives (un-pitted).

Bless him because he tried so hard and the results did make me laugh, his mind was ticking over on how to keep the martini as cold as possible and that was the result.

He gets an ‘A’ for effort.

The martini, however, gets an ‘F’.

The host was so proud of his creation that I didn’t have the heart to tell him it stunk. Out of politeness, I had to drink my entire martini and all of my friend’s martini.

Monday, September 5, 2011


First stop on the Sydney Martini Tour – the pool bar at The Ivy.

DISCLAIMER: This wasn’t actually the first stop on the martini tour, it was the fourth, but these are the only pictures I have at the moment.

The Ivy is an exclusive bar and restaurant establishment in Sydney’s CBD. On the roof of The Ivy is a pool and several bars that cater to a crowd of non-exclusives who stand around trying their best to look and act like they are exclusive. We all know the type.

The member’s changing rooms are numbered with silhouettes of different sexual positions. It’s not the cleverest idea nor is it tastefully done and looking around, neither is the clientele.

They also have a basement. This is not one of the bars, but an actual basement. Most recently used (after my visit) by The Ivy’s bouncers to bound and gag an unruly patron and beat him senseless, followed by a quick clean-up of the scene by the staff maids before the police arrived.
Nothing says “Class” like a basement beating cover-up.

The pool bar is excellently decorated with large multi person sun loungers and private cabana booths in aqua blue and lemon yellow. The colour scheme is so carefully adhered to that even the cocktails match the decor.

It reminded me of The Lucy Show when Lucy worked at the bank and the drapes and carpet were the exact shade of red as her hair and the furniture always matched her outfit.

I take any opportunity to pretend I am a dead actress, so I ordered a yellow drink, which I think was called a “Martini Francaise” or something similar made using fresh pineapple, lemons and other stuff which I do not recall.

You must remember even though I said this was the first martini stop, it was actually the fourth.
The ‘martini’ was difficult to judge as previously I was comparing traditional martinis. This was a cocktail martini so it had to be judged on its own merit.

The verdict: Way to much citrus for my liking. The fresh pineapple was overpowered by the lemon juice. It gave me heartburn but it did match the decor!

This cocktail just wasn’t to my taste, however the bartender was very pleasant to talk to (and by that I mean he had big muscles and a tight shirt) and they used only fresh ingredients that were squeezed, smashed, muddled and juiced as ordered.

As for the atmosphere, once I got my cocktail and was able to lounge on a nice comfy big sun lounger and focus on having a good chat with my friends, I was in heaven.

At the end of the day, isn't that what it's all about?