I may not be a drinker, but I’m ashamed to say that I’m a nightmare to any bartender. I see cocktails as food, and I’m very, uh, specific about what and how my drinks are balanced. My usual order is *takes a deep breath* aBloodyMarywithextraTabascoextrasaltlemonnotlimeshakennotstirredchilledbutwithnoice.
You see what I mean?
So it’s nice to finally meet a bartender who shares the same view: cocktails aren’t just there to get drunk on – it’s meant to be absolutely delicious.
Sam-the-boyfriend meets Sammy-the-bartender over whiskey and the beautiful bar at Grain Bar, at The Four Seasons. Let me just take a moment and say that I feel so posh and adult right now.
Look Ma, no hands!
I know that they say that you should never drink on an empty stomach, but it was a lovely day, and we were in a good mood, so what the hey.
If you ever thought that whiskey was just about men with moustaches sitting at bars filled with cigar smoke and dark wood, well…okay there’s an element of that but it’s also so SO much more. Sammy-the-bartender guided us through the smokey peat and liquid gold.
Our favourite was the 18yo Yamazaki: smooth, nutty, and almost unctuous in the way it slides down the throat. But even more than the amazing booze on offer – any bar can stock that – is the sheer vastness of knowledge and passion that Sammy had for the history and cultures that are behind each bottle. He clearly loved what he was doing, and in return, we had an experience that we would be hard pressed to get anywhere else.
But now and we were nice and sloshed up, we were ready for a big feed, and we were quite sure it was going to be better than a 2am kebab run.
Well, we’d hoped. ?
And because we are so thorough, we ordered the Grain Burger, $24, Smokey Meats Platter, $38, Whiskey Cured Salmon, $14, and Maple Bourbon Stuffed Cronuts, $7. I know it’s a lot of food, but hey, how can you make a fair judgement otherwise?
My absolute favourite at the table? The Whiskey Cured Salmon. Velvety slices of salmon cured with salt, sugar of course, whiskey, were served with salmon roe (Think of the children!), that left delicious pops of saltiness in every bite. There were little cracker things, too, but who needs ’em when you have it’s so damned beautiful on its own!
The Grain Burger and Smokey Meats Platter were a bit on the ‘meh’ side of things. The burger patty was a bit overcooked for my taste, and it wasn’t quite large enough for the bun encasing it. The Smokey Meats were good enough o their own, but when Sydney has been churning out smokey meats the likes of The Oxford Tavern, Parson’s and Vic’s Meats? You just can’t go back from that.
And the Cronuts? Well the cronuts were more like a crispy profiterole than cronut, but it was still had lovely pops of sweet custard piped into a thin shell. Not bad, but also not a cronut.
It is definitely clear to me that Grain Bar is all about the whiskey. Whether you’re a connoisseur or a beginner, it really has the variety and the know-how to introduce you into the craft. The food is designed to be a a supporting act, and well, it’s pretty obvious. The overall experience is great – friendly, professional service, and fabulous ambience – but it’s more bar than restaurant, and I’m okay with that.
Although, I would seriously make a trip for the whiskey salmon. It was that good.