A Bartenders’ Guide to Newcastle Cocktails
Andry Marwick guides you through Newcastle’s prominent bar scene based on the bartenders’ recommendations.
If there’s one defining feature of university life, it’s undeniably our drinking culture (Yak Media does not encourage binge drinking).
Newcastle has an abundance of sophisticated and trendy bars, each provides a distinctive spin on traditional and unique cocktails. The unique variety of what these bars have on offer is perfect for those wanting to ditch the vodka pineapple for something a little more quirky.
Recently winning 2021 Regional Bar of the Year by Australian Bartender Magazine, The Rum Diary on Hunter Street certainly doesn’t disappoint.
This Tiki-themed rum bar specialises in unique cocktails using rums from Australia, South America and the Caribbean. It is the kind of bar you’d go to on a Wednesday for an exciting student night out, where bartenders concoct some crazy cocktails while blowing fire from their mouths.
Lime in da coco
The first drink recommended to us was Lime in da coco, a very unique cocktail specific to the Rum Diary.
Made using Bacardi white rum from Puerto Rico, Dead Man’s coconut rum from England, Pandar syrup and Kaffir Lime tincture.
“It’s a unique flavour but also a familiar flavour, but you can’t pick out what it is”, explained bartender, Dave.
The Dead Man’s coconut rum “carries much of the drink’s sweetness”, Dave continued. “It’s the backbone of the flavour, and an easy rum to have on its own”.
If the lively and social bar scene is what you’re after, where local musicians perform live on Friday to Sunday then this is the place to be.
Tucked away behind an ordinary-looking door along Hunter Street, The Koutetsu is the perfect place to sneak into for a late-night drink. Simply ring the doorbell and you’ll gain entry to this Japanese inspired utopia. This is the kind of bar where the bartenders’ stories sell the atmosphere, and you’ll find yourself chatting for hours. Simply ask about anything and they will tell you with absolute passion and knowledge.
The Last Word is a cocktail that has quite literally been brought back from the dead.
It is believed to have been created sometime in the early beginnings of prohibition at the Detroit Athletic Club, although research into the clubs’ archives revealed that the recipe may in fact predate prohibition. Over the years the drink fell into obscurity and was pretty much lost for good. Until 2004 when it was rediscovered by an employee at the ZigZag Cafe, Seattle in a 1951 cocktail book. From there it gained resurgence and popularity.
The drink is made using Gin, Maraschino Liquor created from distilled marasca cherries and Chartreuse. Made in France from botanical herbs.
Chartreuse dates centuries back to its creation by Carthusian monks and has long been used for medicinal purposes.
If the small bar vibe and moody atmosphere are what you’re after, then The Koutetsu is perfect.
Wanting a cocktail with a waterfront view? Money Penny along the Honeysuckle foreshore may be just what you’re looking for. This small bar offers inventive cocktails from a constantly evolving menu that changes every two weeks. What makes their cocktail menu special is that it revolves around the seasonal availability of fresh produce.
As bartender and menu contributor Josie, who also creates these menus explains, “We sell a lot of mango drinks in the summer. Mango is too expensive right now so we’ve gone back to the strawberry daiquiri.”
Money Penny doesn’t just focus on a select group of spirits for their cocktail list. “We try to cover every spirit group. We have a lot of freedom,” Josie said.
The Passion Sour is one of their most popular cocktails. While the cocktail menu changes constantly, the Passion Sour remains on the list, and it definitely lives up to its reputation.
Fresh passionfruit, two shots of vodka, and sugar syrup is the ultimate balanced blend between the sour passionfruit and the sweetness of the sugar syrup. A goldilocks drink that is neither too sour, nor sweet, but just right.
This bar is the ideal place to relax by the water while indulging in amazing cocktails and food that are absolutely banging for the price. Money Penny simply has it all.
If a bit of time travel is your forte then Coal and Cedar have you covered.
Located in a beautiful interwar Art Deco building, this small bar truly takes you back to the time of prohibition in the 1920s. Coal and Cedar have taken a modernised approach to the spoken password of speakeasy bars of the prohibition period, where a text message to a phone number grants you entry.
It’s all about the classic cocktails here, although, bartender Sean explained they would happily take up the challenge of creating something special for your personal taste.
“You kind of have to see what works and what doesn’t work”, Sean said, “If it doesn’t work I’ll try again.”
The Hotel Georgia
Created sometime in the 1940s, named after the Hotel Georgia which opened in Vancouver, Canada in 1927. Made with Gin, Lemon juice, Orgeat (a syrup made from almonds), and orange flower water it is topped with a beautiful fluffy layer of foamy egg whites. The Hotel Georgia is one of those cocktails you simply just have to try, it’s one of those classic cocktails that perfectly compliments the vibe of Coal and Cedar.
Coal and Cedar is one of those places that you simply can’t find anywhere else. A sophisticated establishment evoking an era in history so perfectly in living, breathing reality you might even begin to believe you’ve stepped into a time loop.
For that late-night cocktail, this is the place to be, that is if you don’t find yourself walking right past it. Don’t forget the password or it may remain a secret to you forever.
Located inside one of Newcastle’s most magnificent buildings, Babylon represents the epitome of a bar with class.
A place where bartenders slide across high shelves on ladders and timeless classics are served underneath giant chandeliers. If a classic is what you need in the atmosphere that captures the glamorous years of the roaring 20s Babylon is the one.
A classic cocktail that everybody knows. Made using a mixture of Gin (Four Pillars Gin at Babylon), Campari, and Vermouth, this bitter and strong orange cocktail might not be for everyone but it’s the perfect companion to the vintage vibe of Babylon. Most sources trace its origins to Italy in the early 20th century, around 1919. Today the Negroni is one of the most popular drinks amongst cocktail lovers.
Babylon is a must for those seeking a bit of Jazz Age sophistication right in the heart of Newcastle’s historic CBD.
Our recommendation: Worth the Parking Fine
Our recommendation: All the Mango
Our recommendation: The Catdog
Our recommendation: Cherry Blossom
Would you try making any of these at home?
Feature Image by Elliot Lazzarotto, Yak Designer