Hunt around the lower end of Foveaux Street for an unlabelled doorway opening to walls lined with wooden shutters. Up the wide stairs, twinkling glass shades emit a dim golden glow. Drop your anchor pronto. This is Button, the latest bar from Stitch and Pocket creators Christophe Lehoux and Karl Schlothauer. And it looks like the hull of a pirate ship crossed with a 19th-century tavern.
A NINE-METRE WOODEN BAR is stacked with more than 400 spirit bottles and casks filled with rum. A tall wooden chest carries treasure that could have washed up on an island. There's a long communal table with tall stools, 19th-century rifles on the wall and hanging wooden bowls of fruit over the bar. Chevron woodwork creates the optical illusion of an undulating ceiling. Are we below deck in calm seas? Or journeying into the winter night in a cleverly transformed former office space? Moored in one of four black leather booths, we're in an old-wood world with curvy etched glass shades and leaded windows as privacy screens.
LOUD '70S ROCK'N'ROLL, 1930s blues and honky-tonk tunes fill the air. Salted pistachio nuts in metal vessels come free, along with glasses of water. Both are delivered just after we arrive. Oh, the sweet luxury of table service. A waitress - who looks after every customer with great speed - takes orders, starts a tab, delivers drinks and tops up water glasses throughout the night.
BUTTON HAS NO FOOD MENU save the pistachios. Nearby takeaway joints will deliver and menus are available at the bar. We press on with the drinks menu. Three pages of cocktails, with Salty Dog-themed names such as Pleasure Vessel, Smoking Gun, Semi Precious, Salty Candy and Pirate Jet overshadow the wine choices. The latter aren't shabby - great choices come from Australia, New Zealand, Spain and Chile.
FIRST UP IS THE HUCKLEBUCK (Ardbeg Ulgeadail whisky, Bacardi rum, Punt e Mes vermouth, $18). A wildly intoxicating bronze brew, it's served in a coupe crystal glass. It's billed as a ''strong sipping drink''and is pungent with deeply warm, bitter and cherry tones. Next is a Flying Cloud (Belvedere rum, lemon juice, pear juice and cinnamon syrup, $17), a Smoking Gun (Glenmorangie whisky, honey, camomile liqueur, $18) served with a ball of ice and a paddle-pop stick, and a Rum and Pera (house-spiced rum, fresh pear juice, $9.50). The last warms the cockles, the second is smoky and sweet and the first a comforting though spirited concoction that is best consumed unhurried.
WITH NO FOOD TO DISTRACT, a Pirate Jet (Bacardi Superior rum, lemon and pineapple juice, mint, orange bitters, topped with crushed ice and a float of Myers rum, $17.50) ends the night with multilayered tropical flavours. Avast, all small-bar lovers - a swashbucklingly fine night awaits aboard the good ship Button Bar.
Rachel Olding is on leave.
YOU’LL LOVE IT IF you want character without kitsch, and well-honed cocktails.
YOU’LL HATE IT IF you want a bright, alfresco vibe.
GO FOR table service, dark, warm decor style, innovative cocktails in vintage glassware.
IT’LL COST YOU cocktails $9.50-$18, wine by the glass $7-$12, beer $6-$10.
Address 65 Foveaux Street, Surry Hills, 9211 1544
Open seven days, 4pm-midnight
- 9211 1544
- Opening Hours - Seven days, 4pm until midnight.
- Author - Lenny Ann Low