When the small bars came to Sydney we suddenly got a whole new range of drinking speeds to explore. We could linger over Italian wines, taste our way through hard-to-pronounce whisky collections and indulge in an early arvo aperitif that didn’t snowball into a bender. The quality of the drinks and the skill of the bartenders encouraged us to taste more but drink less, and soon we had an influx of skin-contact whites, bitter amaros and lower alcohol options like the Spritz. And nowhere has the Spritz been as enthusiastically embraced than at This Must Be the Place, Charlie Ainsbury and Luke Ashton’s light and breezy cocktail bar on Oxford Street.
This is the sort of place that you drop into before dinner reservations, after seeing a show, or just because you’ve got an hour or so to kill – you’ll find any excuse. Service is warm, attentive but never overbearing; they win all the points for the elegant simplicity of their bar snack options – tinned seafood and hot buttered toast; and the drinks are the best in the city. The Gloss (strawberry, citrus vodka, watermelon riesling and rosewater) has earned a permanent place on the menu, and in the hearts of Sydneysiders who want to be as gently refreshed as the subjects in a Renoir painting. For something ballsier the Coffee and Cigarettes is like a flavour boxing match – you’re not sure who’s winning between the coffee-flavoured gin, Aperol, Campari, vermouth and amaretto, but experiencing the fight is the fun part, anyway.
It’s not a raging party at TMBTP, but that’s not why we keep coming back. You never regret an evening spent here, especially when it means a Belafonte (sherry, gin, lemon juice, prosecco, basil) and mussels on toast with a big squeeze of lemon.