The worst part about discovering a great new bar? Once the cat is out of the bag, everyone wants in. Luckily the New Orleans-inspired cocktail den that has set up shop on King Street in the city is not exactly easy to find. The Swinging Cat hides underneath a Subway sandwich shop and boasts almost no signage. Of course, such is the CBD’s after-work thirst that the place pumps after knock off regardless – Sydney booze hounds can sniff out good drinks at a thousand paces.
If you’ve been hanging out for a frosty ale make it an Abita amber. The Louisiana brew has the gentle caramel flavours and malty body of a darker ale, and is as refreshing as a swift dip in a snowy river. It’s worth finding a spot on your dance card for its lighter cousin, the golden ale, and being a city bar there’s no way Heineken and Pilsner Urquell didn’t get an invite to after work drinks.
Had a bad day? You need a Sazerac. The cognac-based cocktail is mixed with bitters and sugar in an absinthe-rinsed, super-chilled glass. It blushes like an ingenue and boozes like a man about town. Or for something that pads its punches behind velvet gloves, order the Vieux Carre. The heady mix of rye whisky, cognac and sweet vermouth is barrel aged and served with a twist of lemon.
Boozy cocktails and salty snacks are never a bad combination. Order a toastie made with wafer-thin slices of pink, tender smoked wagyu and raclette cheese. It serves a full sentence under the grill until it’s golden brown and crunchy on the outside and properly melty inside. You’ll be feeling no pain with a hot sanga in one hand, a short, dark cocktail in the other and some big band soul tunes coming out of the speakers.
They didn’t go to town on the theme – the space is a pared back, lamp-lit affair. The black walls and ceiling meet bare timber floors and if you can’t get a seat around the baby grand piano, a comfortable, gentlemanly lounge chair will have to suffice.
They may be taking their cues from the Big Easy, but the Swinging Cat crew have put in the hard yards to create a bar we're keen to visit again. We'll just need to remember how to find it.