Sydney bars tend to sit at opposing ends of the drinks spectrum: either they're generalists stocking a bit of everything to please the broadest possible tastes, or they're hyper specific in their focus, homing in on a single spirit, cocktail or time period. Hendriks Cognac & Wine bar is cut from the latter cloth. Unlike Ramblin' Rascal Tavern, which also fancies a Cognac, this Crows Nest Bar is not a shirts-off party dive. Instead, they're showcasing the finer things from continental Europe, with 30 Cognacs, 14 Cognac-based cocktails and 23 wines by the glass from their 100-strong cellar.
A whole lot of business goes on in the Lower North Shore of Sydney, but it's never been well serviced in the bars department. Cue Jakob Overduin and James Knight, who also own an advertising agency in the same building. They've taken the "make your own fun" adage to heart and opened a 35-seat bar honouring Overduin's father, a Crows Nest local who was fond of French brandy.
If you're new to the world of fortifieds, you might wonder why a bar is dedicated to the stuff you set alight at Christmas, but for those in the know, names like Frapin VIP XO Grande Champagne Cognac and Hennessy XO will have you reaching for your best smoking jacket.
Not sure what you're drinking but keen to try something new? Approach Cognac like any richly flavoured, barrel-aged spirit. All those sweet, woody flavours like caramel, vanilla, spice and fruit are matched with Cointreau, Fireball cinnamon whisky, fresh orange and pineapple juice in the Hendriks cocktail, or for sharper flavours there's the Major, with grapefruit juice, lemon juice, spiced honey syrup, basil, and chipotle. If brandy is not your first pour, order a Gingerbread Espresso Martin instead.
Like any wine bar worth its charcuterie board, they're doing cheese and cured meats, but if you're not here to share they are also making giant 17cm squared jaffles with custom St. Malo Bakery loaves. Fillings include Cognac-mushroom and cheese; Cognac-caramelised shallots and cheese; a burger riff with a beef patty filled and aged cheddar; or a very French combo of chicken, porcini, speck and comté.