Bars and Nightclubs
Sydney CBD, Sydney

Hinky Dinks

185 Darlinghurst Road
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Hinky Dinks is a small bar in the Sydney suburb of Darlinghurst and a labour of love for two mates, Jeremy Shipley and Dan Knight. Between them they have a wealth of hospitality experience spanning over 20 years, various cities, continents and countries.

With an emphasis on approachable wines and fun drinks, Hinky Dinks embodies the enthusiastic spirit of the 1950s cocktail culture. A culture that knew a cocktail wasn't so much a drink as it was a fashion accessory. And that the Cocktail hour wasn't so much a time, but more a mood - a defiant stance against the demands of the nine-to-five. It's all about the difference between a glass of gin with an olive in it, and a Martini. The difference between a passing glance, and an invitation.

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Hinky Dinks Review

Review by Robert Kennard

Yes it may be on the pricier end of Sydney’s small bar scene. And yes it may also take an hour wait to get a table on a Friday or Saturday evening. And also, yes, it may feel a little bit too ‘retro trite’.

But apart from these small, niggling criticisms, Sydney is made only richer, smarter and more nostalgic from having Hinky Dinks - a bar that knows how to have a whole lot of fun.

Positioned on the precious cocktail imbibing real estate of Darlinghurst Road, Hinky Dinks opened its doors (complete with festive door mat) in late 2011 and has since been returning a sense of frivolity to Sydney’s drinking scene. Owners Dan Knight and Jeremy Shipley have created a 1950s diner styled bar, with all the trimmings you would expect from a baby-booming, make-up wearing, middle American housewife. The frivolity stretches from the ridiculous name (apparently taken from an early 20th century Chicagoan politician who traded drinks for votes) to the service and even décor.

Hinky Dinks is a small room dominated by peppermint green hues, black and white chequered floors, red-topped milk bar stools, formica tables, and an oh-so-loungey bar lounge facing onto Darlinghurst Road. The only décor arrangement looking out of place with the 1950s diner aesthetic are the lighting fixtures (look straight out of Ikea) and the recontextualised piano stools for chairs (?). The crowd is decidedly 25+ and professional, which seems somewhat jarring with the retro vibe. I do notice a “hazy” Kings Cross straggler and a Darlinghurst gender questionable welcomed to a bar stool later on in the evening, but besides this pair the crowd is calm, clean and blends into the bar seamlessly.

While the coiffed, attentive Knight fires up the floor, co-owner and award-winning bartender Jeremy Shipley lights up the cocktails, with cracking house-specialty combinations often made with in-house ingredients. While you cant go past a Martini twist ($17), if you are in the mood for something “juniperific”, try the Gin’n’Jam ($17). Sweetened with an aromatic house-made rose petal jam, it includes Bombay gin, Aperol, lemon, cranberry bitters and egg white. Simply put, it’s great.

If you are an even sweeter tooth, try the Hinky Fizz ($16). Served in a cardboard cup, it combines a (delicious) house-made strawberry and prosecco sorbet with Bombay Gin, elderflower liqueur, peach bitters and grapefruit soda. Its textural, pink, very sweet, and reminds me of Sunday school and lipsmacker.

The wine at Hinky Dinks is quite limited by the glass, but there are some interesting international and local options by the bottle, ranging from $35 to $170. The Pirathon Shiraz ($11 by the glass) was a standard Barossa offering of ripe berry and pepper flavours.

Food is taken seriously here, with a concise, expertly crafted menu from French Bistro Onde’s Laif Etournaud. It ranges from Grilled Chorizo (with eschallots and balsamic reduction, $11) to some delectable rosemary flecked Polenta chips with aioli ($9) and even freshly shucked oysters (with blood orange and coriander gastrique, $3.50 each).

Hinky Dinks may be pricey, a little ‘retro trite’ and also may take a while to get a table, but there is something more here than your standard Sydney small bar. Come here for the cool jazz, great service, delectable food options and the devastatingly delicious cocktails - even if you don’t have a hankering for that Hinky Fizz.

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