A Darlinghurst wine bar with a killer happy hour and point-and-pick tapas
Small, sexy, serves snacks: it’s the default template for all buzzy wine bars opening in Sydney of late – just look to Johnny Fishbone across the road. And Darlinghurst’s Black Bottle plays ball on all three fronts, but does it with a little more chill. You can bring your dog, but unless you’ve trained Maxie to fetch cutlery, you’ll have to grab your own.
You want to aim for the generous happy hour – everyday between 5pm and 7pm they do $15 carafes of wine and $1.50 oysters that are bright and briny. They’re a happy match with a dry, citrusy and straightforward Eden Valley riesling. The rotating wine list fits on a single blackboard but manages to pack in a bunch of thought-provoking new and old world drops, including many from small-batch and experimental makers, like Canberra’s Mada Wines or Parés Baltà, an all female-led biodynamic winery in Barcelona. Better yet, all 13 options are available by the glass, carafe and bottle, so you can give that funky-sounding pet nat pinot meunier a go without committing.
In lieu of words on a page, Black Bottle’s menu is a shiny glass counter housing today’s bounty – rows of fresh prawns and scallops, bowls of pork cheek croquettes and panzanella, jars of rabbit rillettes and tins of Ortiz sardines, that all may as well be yelling out “pick me” in a grown-up version of pick’n’mix. Start with a few ready-to-go bites they’ll hand over once you’ve ordered and paid. A salad of lemony baby octopus peppered with fresh chilli perhaps, or straight-up-sour dutch carrot pickles that violently reset the palate between sticky smears of washed rind jersey milk cheese and sips of a jammy Grenache-Mataro blend from McLaren Vale.
Skip charred cauliflower that could stand to be served higher in temperature, and opt for fried zucchini flowers, which arrive piping hot and stuffed with a mouthful of saffron arborio rice: A+. The hits continue with the plump scallops – barbecued in their shell with salty swatches of jamon and butter-drowned samphire.
Even the tartest sounding number on the cocktail menu – the Pisco-Dono with pisco and yuzu fruit, sour mix, red fruits and bitters – is planting its flag firmly in sweet country. Wine is the way to go here.
Despite it’s classy, old-world European look, Black Bottle is a strictly casual affair. People-watch on the terrace verandah, or hide out in the courtyard with a Tumbarumba pinot in hand, Italian arrosticini in mouth and Japanese pop on the sound system. The point-and-pick ordering system evokes Spanish mercado joys, trying a bit of this, that, and everything, although the novelty does wear off as you find yourself in a constant triangular dance from table to bar to kitchen. During pauses the bartender might hop out the back to prune the pot plants, so even with truncated responsibilities service can get patchy. But little does it matter, because the weather is warm and you’re scoffing $1.50 oysters in a sun drenched courtyard while petting someone else’s dog – there’s really no rush.
|Venue name:||Black Bottle||Contact:|
2/116-118 Darlinghurst Rd
|Opening hours:||Tue-Fri 4pm-midnight; Sat noon-midnight|