40 King St Sydney, NSW 2000
Call the fuzz, someone's spiked the soda fountain.
And bartenders Michael Chiem and Thor Bergquist are behind it all.
This is PS40 – short for Pop Soda, it's a soda factory and cocktail bar featuring some of the nicest folks in the industry on the cans.
In the blue corner bottling sodas and making sandwiches is Chiem. Regular Sydney bargoers will remember him best from his time at Sokyo Bar and subsequents stints with the Swillhouse gang and Bulletin Place.
In the red corner is co-captain Bergquist, a man with a scorcher of a rap sheet (London's Experimental Cocktail Club, Melbourne's Der Raum and Singapore's the Tippling Club) and a dab hand with a boston glass.
To that end, your best play is to sidle up to the bar and order one of everything. Oh sure, it also means leaving the bar broke and sideways, but it's worth it. Especially for a Jean Claude Pandan. Never let a pun get in the way of a good cocktail – not least when that translates as a sort of milk punch with a Thai twist. The result is a clean, lightly perfumed cocktail of rum, coconut water, pineapple and whey.
Broadly, the focus is on lighter, more aromatic drinks. Flavours that are more vegetal, often with a culinary focus, like the Stockholm Syndrome – a vodka and aquavit number, heavy on the dill. It's kind of like drinking a canape. I hate it. Or do I love it? Oh, god – it's both.
Driving/cycling/ segueing/hoverboarding/nursing quintuplets? You're in luck. You're also in a soda factory, so while your buddies are kicking back with Double Funks and Harvey Cherry Bangers, you can still pretend with a smoked lemonade which has enough smoke and flavour to make you feel you could almost be cocktailing it up yourself. Almost.
Back in the kitchen, you're looking at a pretty modest clutch of snacks, which is smart practice for a bar like this.
Maybe you'll order a bowl of Sicilian olives warmed through with a little coriander-infused oil, or maybe you'll just cut straight to the chase to Chiem's mum's banh mi – pork terrine, pickles, lots of chilli, coriander and crackling.
Spicy, but not so spicy it hurts.
On paper there's a bit about PS40 that looks a little early thousands (the deep house over the speakers doesn't help) but across the board, this is a pretty good interpretation of what it is to be drinking in bars in 2016.
Pro Tip: For extra mouth fun, order your sandwich extra spicy