Stanley's review

Stanley's blends whimsy and twee.
Stanley's blends whimsy and twee. Photo: Christopher Pearce

79 Stanley St Darlinghurst, NSW 2010

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Opening hours Mon-Sun 5pm-midnight
Features Licensed, Bar

Finally. The Wes Anderson-themed bar Sydney never knew it needed until it got it. So here you'll see the zebra-print wallpaper from Margot Tenenbaum's bedroom (no library of plays, no Eli Cash hiding out in a wardrobe). The exterior of the little bar on the old Kubrick's site is painted the exact candy pink of the Grand Budapest Hotel (no Mendl's, no Ralph Fiennes, no sexy octogenerarians) and there, hanging on the wall, is a papier mache fox mask (no George Clooney, no sassy rats).

The end result is more Wes-esque than a double-barrelled attack of whimsy and twee.

Better yet, for the first time in a long time, Stanley Street has once again become a dining destination. You've got this here bar, the Long Goodbye a few doors up on the old Hazy Rose site and just down the hill, Sagra's serving up some of the best pasta in the city.

Smoky Blood and Clam cocktail.
Smoky Blood and Clam cocktail. Photo: Christopher Pearce

Thankfully, though, Bill and Toni's still stands strong. As an ode to the longtime Stanley Street heavyweights, owner and bartender Andy Penney is using their coffee and a slug of Averna in his take on a vodka espresso. It's the cocktail that will both set you up and pull you down in one fell swoop.

The antithesis of this, by the way, is the K.G.B. If there was ever such a thing as a health cocktail (ugh), this would be it. Not least because they're using – wait for this and don't exhale till I'm done – "culture clubbing socialist lemon myrtle and roadside apple kombucha". That's community-made kombucha made with foraged apples. There's other stuff in it too – gin, lime and rhubarb – but all I can taste is a highball of largely acidic health. It's not hateful. And given it's postcode 2010, it'll probably prove very popular.

And really, if all I ever wrote about was drinks I liked rather than things other people might find pleasurable (here's to you, Melted Gold – you long, sweet and highly approachable blonde and pretty glass of apple cider, applejack, lime and peach) you'd be reading solely about iterations of brown spirits, brown modifiers and things so bitter only salty sea captains would enjoy drinking them out of rusty buckets. Like the 2010 East Cocktail – rye, sherry, maraschino, Cynar. Heaven.

A big glass of health at Stanley's.
A big glass of health at Stanley's. Photo: Christopher Pearce

'Course, if none of that tickles you, they're also OK with you going off-piste. There's a small caveat at the bottom of the menu regarding this, though, and that's "don't be a dick about it".

You've been warned, fun lovers.

The lowdown

Bill and Toni's coffee cocktail ($18); K.G.B ($19); 2010 East Cocktail ($20).

Pro Tip: Take this new bar as an excuse to fall in love with Stanley Street all over again.

Go-to Dish: The Smoky Blood and Clam is all your Bloody Caesar dreams come true. It's pretty much breakfast in a glass, so you can drink them all night. Trust me – I'm a doctor (of fun).