‘Mixing up new cocktails is just a lot of drinking really. A lot of drinking and talking smack,’ our bartender told us as he casually mixed up one of his brand new creations.
It’s this tounge-in-cheek attitude, relaxed style and creativity that I really love about The Swinging Cat. It was refreshing to come across a cocktail bar that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
This small, New Orleans inspired bar is Pete Fischer’s latest venture and he’s hit all the right spots. Located underground on King Street, there’s no signage, just a black cat symbol and a set of stairs leading down to the bar.
The interior is suitably moody and atmospheric with plenty of plush seating, drapes, booths and corners to hide away in. According to Clement, our waiter and cocktail-maestro, there’s even a ‘make-our corner’ that can’t be seen from the bar but has probably been witness to a bit of post-cocktail naughtiness. The low-lighting and seductively light jazz certainly sets the mood…
After being seated in a very cosy corner, Clement took us through the drinks menu – a very well thought out and inspiringly unique collection of delicious sounding concoctions. There’s a big focus on the Sazerac from the classic to some modern takes on the New Orleans cocktail. Having never sampled a Sazerac before and relying on recommendations, I went for the Calvados Sazerac ($18) which was served in a crystal cut glass. It was a strong and intense drink that was an excellent introduction to the cocktail.
We also sampled drinks from their Signature menu, my favourite being the Decateur ($18), 8-year-old rum infused with Applewood smoked dates stirred with sweet vermouth and a dash of bitters. I loved the colour and the aroma of the cocktail and it was just how I like it, strong and slightly fruity.
My boyfriend was keen to try their take on a Chocolate Julep ($19) imaging it was going to be a very intense flavour. Instead, he was pleasantly surprised by the subtlety of the cocoa and how it was served (I think he was expecting a more manly looking drink for some reason!). I personally loved it!
To accompany the drinks is a small but perfectly formed food menu. Whether you’re after something suitable to nibble on alongside a glass of wine or a more substantial feed, there’s a lovely selection. We ordered their grilled cheese with smoked Wagyu beef and Cajun spices ($15) and a serving of the shrimp and crab dumplings ($12) to share. The portions sizes were pretty spot on for an mid-evening meal and the flavours were fantastic!
The grilled cheese in particular was very well put together. The Wagyu beef added a more sophisticated flavour while the gooey cheese and gherkins kept it simple and comforting.
We had a really fun evening at The Cat, chatting with the bartenders, watching them mix up amazing cocktails and people watching (there’s plenty of opportunities for that!). I loved that the bar is a well-kept secret (until now, whoops!) and that while The Cat is a popular little spot, it’s not crazy busy. It’s perfectly intimate and a lovely little hide-away to enjoy some jazz and a special tipple of two. Just keep an eye out or you might walk right past it!
What’s your favourite small bar in Sydney?
Until next time my crazy cats xx
We were guests of The Swinging Cat but all opinions are my own.