Bars and Nightclubs
Sydney CBD, Sydney

Grandma's Bar

Basement 275, Clarence St
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Retro-sexual haven of cosmopolitan kitsch and faded granny glamour.

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Grandma's Bar Review

Review by Cathy Harris

I have always considered my grandma’s place to be a home away from home. It’s a place that I can go to if I need to unwind and relax, feel welcome and comforted, or to be showered with yummy treats and foods that are prepared with love. A visit to Grandma’s Bar is synonymous with the warm, fuzzy feeling you get when you visit your grandma’s house - minus the musty aroma of cough lollies and mothballs!

Take a look at Grandma’s Bar from street level and you’re likely to scratch your head in confusion and think “Huh, what bar?” Shadowed by Clarence Street’s grungy looking buildings and a guitar shop, it’s the type of covert establishment where if you are none the wiser, you’re likely to walk straight past it. The only thing that alludes to this address as being a happening bar in the middle of the CBD is the lone security guard, who ushers you through a nondescript door.

Walk down an Astroturf covered staircase to the basement and you find yourself in a dim and cosy room. Straight away you are overcome with a feeling of homeliness and nostalgia as you take in the funky lamps, kitschy sofas, rocking chairs and odd little trinkets such as crochet toilet paper-cover dolls. To complete the scene a group of young women sit in the corner knitting with the yarn and needles provided, while they gossip and sip drinks. The bar is quite narrow and seating space is limited to a comfy sofa, a few armchairs, and several stools up against the wall just opposite the bar, so advice would be to get in early. Even thought the room is a bit snug, the unpretentious and friendly crowd (who are just as eclectic as the decor that adorns Grandma’s) seem happy to stand and mingle while tossing back a few.

Order one of the select few beers from this bar and you will be shamed into drinking it from a brown paper bag! While beer, wine and cider are on offer [$8-$9 for a glass of wine; $6-$15 for beer by the bottle], the cocktails are what draw a crowd. The quirky, handwritten cocktail menu is brought to life by the charming and talented Grandchildren (commonly known as bartenders!) who knock-up traditional cocktails, as well as the more creative concoctions [from $14-$20]. While the Ultimate Mai Tai [$19] creates a spectacle for onlookers as it is set alight with flaming rum, it’s the random punch bowl atop the bar that draws curiosity. Brimming with what one can only refer to as grandma’s secret remedy, the alcoholic contents of the bowl are changed daily and for only $14 a mug full, you’re sure to leave Grandma’s with a smile!

Grandma also likes to make sure her visitors are well fed, lining the stomachs of her patrons with snack foods which include good old-fashioned jaffles [$7.50], a crowd favourite being the baked bean jaffle oozing with melted cheese.

If small bars are your cup of tea, then Grandma’s Bar is the perfect meeting point for after work drinks, or a cosy place to unwind and catch up with friends. If only my gran were as trendy and hip as Grandma’s Bar...

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