Reviewed by Georgia Cassimatis
Bar M, Sydney’s eastern suburbs Italian restaurant gives most others a run for their money with its mix of eclectic and out of this world, sophisticated glamour. What other restaurant afterall is housed in a former tyre factor, with black and white lavish light projections of retro movie stars from Natalie Wood to Amy Winehouse, Steve McQueen and Robert De Niro permeating the brick walls, while rustic home-made Neopolitan cooking is served? Not to stop there, to turn it up a notch, head chef and owner Paola Toppi and bar manager Matteo Belkeziz joined forces to fight Sydney city’s contentious nightlife and lock out laws with….? Cocktails!
In response to recent Council decisions to potentially close its doors at 10pm and not the usual trading time of 12am, instead of shouting ‘Mamma Mia!’ they created a new menu called the Power Hours: four Italian cocktails with a Mediterranean twist, each with a cheeky name as a rebellious wink to the draconian laws, accompanied naturally by only the best Italian snacks and antipasti.
There to trial the new tipple, it was the perfect venue for my date and I to explore an intimate, yet adventurous evening together. As soon as we walked through the doors enthusiastic service lead us to a shimmering gold bar, where Matteo’s team of bartenders with accents and attire that made us feel like we were in a 1960s European movie, serenaded us with our four cheeky drinks.
First up was the Keep Sydney Open with Bourbon whiskey, Porter beer reduction, barrel bitters, fresh lemon juice and a hint of coffee. I mean really, Whiskey and Espresso coffee? Hello nightlife! As Matteo says: ‘When a Whiskey Sour meet an Espresso Martini, the result is a perfect drink from dusk till dawn’. My favourite was the sign pegged to the glass (See image! Must see images for all four!)
Next up was the Silent Disco:?Ink Gin, violet and lavender shaken hard with a touch of maraschino and citrus. This cocktail is literally decked out with headphones and a lemon wedge in the shape of a cassette ‘play’ button. I must have taken at last 55 instagram photos.
The Footloose was utterly adorable as it literally comes with two tap shoes coated in the froth. Created with Frangelico, lime and Spiced rum, it is, according to the experts, the perfect trio that magically combines together to make one want to dance the night away.
And finally, what is a sophisticated hell raiser without a Disco Ball? Move over Studio 54, the look of this cocktail with its London no.1 Blue Gin, mango and peach liqueur shaken with lime, lemon, whites and curacao, is even more kitsch in its literally bent out of shape glass.
‘I’ve been in this industry for thirty years and am passionate about what small businesses, like ours, contribute to the diverse and vibrant cultural fabric of a city’, says Toppi. ‘We like to think of our new cocktail menu has a cheeky wink to Sydney and a way to tackle the serious challenges we are facing with a sense of humour and a beautiful cocktail in hand.’
Now I’ve helped fight the closing times battle, as well as been seduced by intoxicating atmosphere, I will be back….this time for the Tiramisu Martini.
Bar M is open evenings Monday to Saturday, and every Friday for lunch. Located at 10 Neild Avenue, Rushcutters Bay