The new bar code in Sydney

Mortadella jaffle with Four Pillars' Red Snapper cocktail at Eileen's Bar.
Mortadella jaffle with Four Pillars' Red Snapper cocktail at Eileen's Bar. Photo: Steven Woodburn

People keep opening new bars, amazingly. Either they haven't heard what's been going on, or they have unwittingly come up with exactly what we want before we knew we wanted it.

These newborn bars are definitely more niche and neighbourhood than generalist and global. Take these three: one is specifically built around gin, one around wine, and one around giving locals a good time. Yet they all give more than they have to, teaming their distinctive, tailored drinks with good food. And not one of them has given up and put a burger on the menu. Cheers to that.

Four Pillars Gin Shop and Gin Lab and Eileen's Bar, Surry Hills
Gin Lab pix
Four Pillars Sydney Lab - Gin Lab - James Irvine and Stuart Gregor with Eileen Still
Stuart Gregor, co-founder, Four Pillars GinJames Irvine, Creative Director, Gin Drinks
Supplied PR pix

James Irvine and Stuart Gregor of Four Pillars. Photo: Supplied

Eileen's Bar

Eileen, it turns out, is not the bar-owner, but a beautiful little copper still, named for co-founder Matt Jones' mother. She sits in the corner of a darkly romantic gin laboratory and bar, launched in June by the Yarra Valley-based Four Pillars gin distillery on a blink-and-miss-it corner on Crown Street.

Book and pre-pay $20 deposit for a cosy booth or a stool at the broad, electric-blue counter (the colour of juniper berries, gin's main botanical) and you're in for a real treat. The young staff couldn't be more passionate, and their gin-built cocktails are bright, lively and demanding, not afraid to slap you with acidity or smash you with spices.

There's an easy, snacky food menu from Melbourne chef Matt Wilkinson, which repurposes several gin by-products as flavour additives. The pick? Steak and pepper party pies (three for $12), a gooey jaffle with mozzarella and mortadella ($12), and creamy taramasalata topped with gin-smoked caviar ($19).

Eileen's is civilised, nostalgic and fun; a magical place to be.

Open: Wed-Fri 5pm-midnight; Sat-Sun 3pm-midnight

Four Pillars Gin Laboratory, 406-410 Crown Street, Surry Hills, 02 9062 8430, fourpillarsgin.com 

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A martini with saltbush-roasted pepitas at No. 92, Glebe.
Pic credit Traianos Pakioufakis

A martini with saltbush-roasted pepitas at No. 92, Glebe. Photo: Traianos Pakioufakis

No. 92

Glebe, you have a very special little corner going on here in the heart of Glebe Point Road. The two-storey Victorian Georgian building refashioned by Pattern Studio is full of charm, sunlight and glamorous marble tables. A right proper English chef, John Lyons, is installed in the country kitchen doing full-flavoured wine-friendly food, from cauliflower cheese arancini to lamb breast schnitzel with smoked apple. Old- and New World wines from new collective Super Super are lively and accessible, and the pretty courtyard screams springtime sessions.

Sundays are devoted to Sydney's finest (I'm calling it) Sunday roast: a gigantic platterful of roast pork, chicken or rump from ethical butchers Feather & Bone, with up to SEVEN different vegetables ($28/takeaway $25). Not only are there plump baby parsnips, fluorescently orange carrots, dark green cavolo nero and tanned, beef-dripping spuds, there's the lightest, crustiest, as-big-as-a-chef's-hat Yorkshire pudding, all with a nicely peppery gravy.

The beautifully realised vision of owner Angela Kasimis, No 92 is a perfectly gift-wrapped care package for all of Glebe and beyond.  

Open: Thu 4-9pm; Fri noon-11pm; Sat 3-11pm; Sun noon-9pm

No. 92, 92 Glebe Point Road, Glebe, 02 9571 9292, no92gpr.com.au

Anchovy crostini at Arms Length bar, Redfern.
For Terry Durack review, August 25, 2020.

Anchovy crostini at Arms Length in Redfern. Photo: Supplied

Arms Length

My goodness, people are noisy aren't they? It's quite extraordinary how much din (96dB) a chatty table of post-lockdown people can generate after a bottle of Jacquart Champagne. But it also makes this long, skinny corner bar and restaurant a nice, welcoming place to be.

Co-owner Rebecca O'Shea laughs when asked if it was a tough time to open. "Any time is a tough time to open," she says. "But the locals have been very supportive."

There's a short and sweet natural-leaning wine list, classic cocktails from the split-level bar, and neighbourly cooking from chef Jeffrey Sue.

The food isn't overly ambitious – steak frites ($32), fried calamari ($20) and smooth chicken liver pâté ($18) with funky blue cheese notes and plenty of hot toast – but it ticks all the boxes. And prices like these make it easier to leave home and go out into the dark.

Open: Mon-Fri noon-late; Sat-Sun 11am-late

Arms Length, 648 Bourke Street, Redfern, 0420 940 829, armslength.com.au