Bars and Nightclubs
George Street, Sydney

Zeta Bar The Hilton

Level 4, 488 George Street, Sydney, NSW
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Sydney’s sexiest nightspot, Zeta Bar is an opulent oasis in the heart of the city, filled with purple hues and dark wood tones. Located atop a breathtaking CBD rooftop terrace, Zeta reveals a never seen before viewpoint of the historical Queen Victoria Building and looks onto the length of George Street spanning down towards the harbour. The inspired interior features indulgent spaces to sip cocktails. A sleek oak wood island bar runs the length of the main room flooded in a deep red and purple glow from huge glass lamps. In the lounge there is an array of plush leather ottomans and dark timber tub chairs centered around a stylish oversized fireplace which burns with sparkling glass rocks.

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What to Expect @ Zeta Bar

Review by Nastasia Campanella

Approximately 27 years ago a 30 something male with a bit of spare cash and cute clothes went clubbing. The setting was Juliana’s, at the Hilton Hotel. He wooed girls with strawberries and cream, guzzled down screwdrivers and one Saturday night met the right girl. They got married and had two kids.

True story, I promise! The 30 something was my dad, the girl was my mum. I’m one of the kids and as life goes… things change and so has the bar my parents met at all those years ago.

Even though Juliana’s is no more, the Hilton is still home to Sydney’s sexiest bar. Since 2005, its been replaced with Zeta Bar. Newspapers, and bloggers in the know have talked this spot up, dubbing it “the place to be”. So, being 21 and keen to step into my finest threads, I headed out. I found Zeta Bar had so much more to offer than just a hyped up name.

From the moment my taxi drove into the driveway of the Hilton I knew this was a special place. Two men in shiny suits approached my cab, opening both back doors and escorting me out of the vehicle. The friendly chaps held open the door as I entered the ground level of the hotel. I felt fabulous as I glided across the polished marble floors; past ladies in sky high heals. I tapped the lift button gently and stepped in. When the lift doors opened, I jumped out excitedly totally prepared for the opulent night ahead.

Soft electronic tunes enveloped me as I walked into the bar. The room was decked out in purple tones, furniture made from dark wood and dim red lighting. The main room has the long wood bar perched directly in the middle where friendly and relaxed staff let creativity run wild. To the left of the bar, there are a dozen small private corners where music is soft and the mood is very intimate. While the lounge area opposite complete with leather cushion style seats and dark timber chairs arranged around a fireplace burning with sparkling glass rocks provides for a more casual, classy spot to sit.

To the right is the outdoor area where people can opt to stand holding martinis or sit with platters of snacks. This section is lined with marble benches and stainless steel stools making for a relaxed spot for large groups. The alfresco area overlooks the hustle and bustle of George St and the historic shopping complex, the Queen Victoria Building.

International mixologist, Grant Collins is a leader in creative cocktails and he shakes up a list of lovely ones at Zeta. The clubs signature is the pineapple and coriander martini. Succulent pineapple pressed with coriander leaves and plymouth gin, vanilla de madagascar, pressed lemon juice, finished with Zeta’s own vanilla syrup is fresh and fruity. Collins experiments with the traditional margarita – serving it martini style on a platter with a side of sea-salt foam in a baked and caramelised lime shell. He also toys with New York’s favourite cocktail, the Manhattan. He infuses this American classic with smoky bacon bourbon, maple syrup and cherry syrup. It is served with a side of smoky bacon and a tangy cherry garnish making for one very very strong beverage.

The experiments don’t stop there. Zeta spices up summer with icy alcoholic sorbets. A first here in Australia, Zeta has adopted what has been dubbed molecular mixology. This is where cocktails are deconstructed using molecular techniques such as altering textures and tastes into liquid nitrogen. Every Friday night over the warmer months, Zeta has your favourite cocktails like the Negroni and the Pina Colada served in cones ($4), and cups ($6).

While the bar staff aim to impress you with the cocktails – which on average are $18 – you should be prepared to make a statement (as most patrons do), with your attire. you never know who you’ll run into. Word has it that the original darling of David Jones, Megan Gale, swimmer, Ian Thorpe and actor, Hugh Jackman frequent this hotspot. While singer, Jessica Simpson, actress, Nicole Ritchie and rapper, Snoop Dogg have partied here in the past.

Don’t think you need an academy award or an invitation to come here. Certainly, Friday nights are for the suits after work (I may have met a couple of men who worked at relatively large banks while I was there). Saturdays, there is always a cover charge above $10, it isn’t unusual to see designer outfits strutting around the dance floor and the big black card being used over the counter. The toilets (I only entered the ladies ones), are even impressive with thick, almost sound proof doors, sleek, marble, flat basins with censored taps. A girl stands on hand to pass you a paper towel for you to dry your hands before you pass in back to her so she can dispose of it for you.

Despite all this, Zeta Bar’s staff provides top quality service, are down-to-earth and know exactly what they’re on about in the drinks department. While I probably won’t make Zeta a regular thing, it was nice to see the up-to-date version of where my parents met. Who knows though, maybe if I head back there, I might also meet Prince Charming, get married, have two kids and live happily ever after.

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A 2nd Look @ Zeta Bar

Review by Kelly Teng

Back before The Ivy came along, Zeta Bar at the Hilton Hotel was the frontier for style and class when it came to cocktails at the end of the working week…and unlike The Ivy, Zeta has kept the trashy crowd out and is left with an elegant venue for an indulgent drink any night of the week.

Out of all the bars in Sydney, I have to say that this is the one to go to if you want to feel like a million dollars. Because it is a part of the Hilton Hotel, exceptional service is built in to the name and will be the first thing you notice when you walk through the doors. The concierge will always be friendly and helpful, and the doormen give a polite greeting to every person that walks in. When you hit the actual bar, expect everyone to be attentive and onto it with everything you need. Cocktails are whipped up in a frenzy and served to perfection, and your empty glasses are cleaned up in an instant. Both times I have been to Zeta, I have been so pleasantly surprised with the staff (and their ability to do their job well) and they always make popping around to the Hilton worth it.

Zeta Bar oozes sophistication from the moment you walk through the doors. Wooden coziness dominates in most areas (with purple and red tinges throughout), while the bar is the height of chic with its wooden counters. I have to say that whoever designed Zeta designed it right: the entire place feels like the pinnacle of fine drinking (which is kind of like fine dining, but way more enjoyable). The bar offers a huge expanse of alcohol, and the liquor is stocked so beautifully that you almost feel bad drinking it…that is, until you taste the cocktails. Zeta’s cocktails are – if for no other reason – the one thing that every Sydneysider and tourist should try.

From signature drinks to the forgotten classics, Zeta has it all. Mixologist Grant Collins is not afraid to throw ingredients into a mix just to see how it comes out – and trust me, more often than not it comes out great. While the cocktails will set your wallet back a few $20s, it’s most definitely worth it to try these infusions of flavours: just glancing at the menu can show any patron that Zeta is passionate about their cocktails and not afraid to get creative. My favourites are always in the Forgotten Cocktails section: a nod up to the old school drinks that hardly anyone gets to try anymore. These are definitely worth a shot if you are looking for something classy and timeless to treat yourself to.

Naturally, for its location both in the Hilton and on George Street, Zeta Bar attracts a largely corporate crowd 90% of the time. Being a place to catch up for after work drinks and business conversations, Zeta’s patrons almost always sport work attire: suits for the men and the latest fashions for the ladies. Turning up in last year’s jeans and a jacket will almost guarantee that you feel so incredibly left out that no one will need to refuse you entry: you’ll leave based on your own shame from what you’re wearing. I almost always opt for heels and dresses when I come here, because at Zeta there’s no such thing as overdressed or too fabulous. Music always adds to the atmosphere of class and elegance (as if you didn’t get that already from the suits and the cocktails), with softer – often wordless – music being played from every corner.

If you’re looking for a different kind of Ivy, or a place to try some new flavours that you haven’t had before, then Zeta Bar is the place for you…and if you have a few drinks too many you can always hit the Hilton for a night in a five star hotel.

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Captured At Zeta Bar The Hilton

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