It was a normal Thursday night in Sydney. I was headed to a bar called Ramblin Rascal Tavern to see a gig by Frank Sultana – it was his last solo act before he goes on tour for 6 weeks. I know of Frank Sultana from his band Frank Sultana and the Sinister Kids; they make great music by the way – I’m a fan. So when I found out he was playing his last solo gig, I was obliged to go.
I walked up to the address of Ramblin Rascal Tavern at 199 Elizabeth Street, Sydney but all I saw was a bouncer wearing all black where the bar is supposed to be. Confused, I asked the guy, “Ramblin Rascal?” and he moved out of the way and lo and behold there’s a door right behind him. He was very friendly, told me to go through the door to the basement and turn left and I’ll be there.
I walk down the stairs, admiring the cool graffiti on the walls, with a faint sound of bluesy music getting closer. Once I got the bottom of the stairs and turned left, there it was – the place was dimly lit, leather booths next to the walls and tables and chairs in the middle for patrons. I noticed Frank Sultana was setting himself up at the little corner across from the bar as I was walking toward the bar.
As soon as I got to the bar, one of the bar staff greets me right away. He was really friendly and courteous. So, point! I grabbed a stool and sat at the bar, asked for the menu and started going through it. Before I came to this place, I thought it was a Whisky bar but turned out it was more of a Cognac bar with a wide selection of different Cognacs! But I was more interested in the cocktails so my attention was on this list. The list was their own concoction of cognac cocktails and since I wasn’t really familiar with my cognacs, it was dealer’s choice.
But first, I started off with a Whisky Sour, start off slow. They gave me a bottle of water, a glass and a little dish of crunchy nuts or corn kernels, I couldn’t tell what they were but they were tasty. I could hear Frank Sultana starting to play behind me. You’d think for a bar located discreetly in a basement, it could have been a seedy dive bar but this place was far from it! It’ll be easier for me to describe how I felt when I was there than to describe how it looked so here it goes.
The atmosphere was inviting, the bar staff was super friendly and nice, the music was fantastic and went with the atmosphere, the tavern wasn’t cluttered or cramped at all and it just made me feel at ease. I felt like I could come here every day and hang out with a few cocktails and the bar staff. It felt homely. I saw 2 trophies and a giant black dildo hanging on the ceiling bar so I asked one of the guys behind the bar what the trophies were about and if that was actually a giant black dildo. Answers – the trophies were for “Best Bar Team in the Country” for 2 years and the giant black dildo was actually a bottle opener! There you go.
I asked my bartender to make me one of the cocktails from the menu and he made this amazingly delicious cocktail that I’m still thinking about right now. It was called “Cooked Corpse Reviver” and it was one of the best things I’ve ever tasted in my life! I savoured that drink while enjoying Frank Sultana’s blues music and it was heaven.
After I finished the delicious concoction, I asked my bartender (his name is Daniel) to surprise me with another one and he did! He created a new cocktail that he was trying out for a competition called the Bacardi Legacy Global Cocktail Competition. He didn’t have a name for it yet but it was fabulous. There were a few people standing next to me at the bar and I couldn’t help but overhear that it was Charlie’s (one of the owners) birthday and he was buying shots for his staff. Happy birthday, Charlie!
Ramblin Rascal Tavern was serving what they called Shit Tinnies – $6 beers, they were Emu Exports this week and loads of people were ordering them left right and centre. They also had a burger menu written on the wall in big font – Mary’s Burgers. When I asked what it was all about, they explained that they do take away burgers from Mary’s in the city (Mary’s City) just 200 metres away. And when the food arrives, they ring the big red cowbell hanging against the wall. I think this just makes this place even more fun.
And for my last drink, I asked Daniel to surprise me again. He turned to his bartender friend and whispered some things. His friend (Ollie, short for Oliver) started mixing drinks and I was very curious of what I’ll be presented with. When I got the drink, the liquid was light green with a tiny slice of cucumber on top. I found out it was called a Peruvian Eastside – and girl, that was so refreshing and tasty! I made sure it lasted and enjoyed every single drop of it.
After all that amazing tasty goodness and awesome music, I paid my tab, said my goodbyes to Daniel and Ollie and left. As a souvenir, I took one of their coasters because I loved what it said on the back – DON’T BE A DICK. I promise I won’t.