Bars and Nightclubs
Sydney CBD, Sydney

Palmer And Co

Abercrombie Lane, Sydney
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Down an alleyway off George Street, Palmer & Co. is a throwback to the roaring 1920s when alcohol was consumed behind closed doors, underground and in dark alleyways, transporting guests to another era. This bar’s vintage theme runs throughout its décor, music and menu, which has a list of long “forgotten” cocktails as well as some fabulous wines.

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Palmer And Co Review

Review by Nancy Merlo

A throwback to the roaring 1920s when alcohol was consumed behind closed doors, underground and in dark alleyways, Palmer & Co. is a speakeasy style bar that transports guests to another era. Seriously, I felt like I had just walked into an episode of Boardwalk Empire, although Steve Buscemi was nowhere to be seen.

After you’ve found the entrance to Palmer & Co. through an unassuming hole-in-the-wall down an alleyway off George Street and made your way into this underground bar, the first thing you’ll notice is the boppy jazz tunes blaring through the speakers. This bar’s vintage theme runs throughout its décor, music and menu, which has a list of long “forgotten” cocktails as well as some fabulous wines (for the record, I went with the Cape Mentelle sav blanc and it went down a treat).

Waitresses swan around in pearls and flapper-style get ups offering table service and adding to the authentically old school feel, while male bar staff also look super cute in bow ties and braces. Everyone is charming.

Exposed brick and old wooden cupboards filled with booze and taxidermy animals abound, and the low cement ceiling makes you feel like you really are inside some secret bar, in danger of being caught out by a prohibition officer at any moment. I suppose this is all part of the bar’s appeal: everyone flocks here to feel as if they are doing something a little bit naughty, and you can tell a lot of thought has been put into bringing the concept to life.

You’ll be lucky to find a seat in here on a Friday night when crowds of suits pile in the door for a few after work drinks to welcome the weekend. It’s a very grown-up crowd that’s generally well-behaved and well-dressed, where older drinkers will feel just as comfortable as those in their twenties.

With a mix of little round tables, high benches and bar stools, get in there early if you don’t fancy standing up all night and want to enjoy a few nibbles with your drinks... meat balls or mac’n’cheese anyone?

Then again, if you’re more of a night owl and find yourself wondering the city streets at a loose end one weekend, it pays to remember that Palmer & Co. is licensed till 5am and is one of the less seedy late night haunts in Sydney. So if you don’t go early, go late. And stay as long as they’ll have you, because unique venues that actually feel like a real '20s speakeasy are few and far between in Sydney; usually reserved for laneways in Melbourne or New York.

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A 2nd Palmer And Co Review

Review by Teresa Dodaro

For those of us who insist on living in the past rather than embracing the future, Palmer and Co, with its 1920s Prohibition inspired theme, provides a charming escape to avoid the digital age and relish a time when even draconian legislation provided an opportunity for creating clandestine venues of glamour.

Although part of the Hemmes empire there is not, mercifully, a pool in sight: a most happy thought for those of us who are disturbed by the sight of terry towel robes, shorts and well toned bottoms after 6pm (or, indeed, at any time). The fact that it is aptly located in a lane, with merely a quaint lamp to mark the door of this subterranean establishment, made it a worthy venue to launch my best vintage bag and brooch.

Somewhat dismayed by the necessity to queue, I was mollified by the fact that instead of the expected cold stick in heels guarding entry, a rather amiable young man skillfully managed that unhappy task. Once inside, after a less than glamorous descent down a rather drab looking stairwell, one is greeted by a lively buzzing crowd, and an ambience pleasing to the eyes as only a dimly lit room with the glimmer of pearls and cocktail glasses can be. Whilst, after a more detailed examination, it appeared insufficiently grand compared to the kind of glamour one imagines in the glorious dens of vice frequented by the likes of Fitzgerald. I was ultimately satisfied that the dark leather lounges, prohibition mug shots, timber like features, jazz music and stylishly dressed bar staff, sufficiently passed muster and enabled me to pretend I was an (albeit less than glamorous) extra in Boardwalk Empire.

It can be quite crowded, therefore it is advisable to act militantly to secure a table and cocktail list. There are separate small quaint looking bar areas, all equally appealing on account of their vintage style and the friendly and well groomed bar staff. Being of a somewhat frivolous nature, I immediately enquired whether my selected cocktail – a Hollywood Sour – was elegantly presented in a sufficiently attractive cocktail glass (having an aversion to unsightly glasses). Having been assured of its aesthetic appeal, I was ultimately pleased with my silky and frothy pink number, with a slight hint of sherbet and spice. Whilst I cannot recall being enraptured with the other cocktail choices, I was quite delighted with mine and promptly went back for more. The prices are certainly not from the 1920s, however; cocktails ranging between $15 to $20 is fairly standard for a venue of this calibre. There is some bar food available, although some of the options, like meatballs, seemed a dash dubious alongside an elegant cocktail: therefore perhaps the cheese and cured meat platters are best.

Whilst a search for Nucky Thompson is in vain, you will find a reasonably mixed crowd: not wholly dominated by dull corporate types attached to their phones, yet not alternative or eclectic either. Thankfully, not a 12 year old in sight.

Notwithstanding the unfortunate unisex toilet cubicles and an (albeit interesting) cage presumably acting as a coat room, Palmer & Co is certainly a step in the right direction toward the ever increasing small bar scene.

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