75 Campbell Street, Surry Hills
From the makers of Grandma’s in Sydney’s CBD comes The Wild Rover – a new cocktail bar in trendy Surry Hills. I’m going to say upfront that I love this place – from the decor to the fabulous service, to the impressive cocktail list – this place is a winner and for me, one of the best bars in Sydney.
Firstly, it’s a little hard to find as there’s no signage at the front. In fact we walked right past it and I began to question Tom on whether he had the right address. In retracing our steps we found ourselves in front of a large green door – the largest door I’ve ever seen. Off the quiet street there is no indication that behind this door a whole other world awaits – full of old-world adornments, suspender-wearing bar tenders and beverages to make you merry.
As soon as we walked in we were warmly greeted by the bar staff – singing out to us as our eyes adjusted to the low lighting. The place is spacious with high ceilings and two levels. It shares its name with an old Irish pub song and is Irish themed, with rich rustic furnishings; from the dark timber tables and stools to the leather wall seating and copper bar tops. The exposed red brick walls are decorated with old black and white pictures and maps. Right above that large green door, an imposing metal statue of a man bearing arms looks down on you – almost as if he’s challenging you to leave. I assume this is our Wild Rover – and I didn’t want to disappoint him. Rich red curtains flanked either side of Mr Rover, adding to that old-world charm. Both the ground and top levels boast a jungle-inspired feature wall. This is perhaps emblematic of the mythical Wild Rover’s adventures before returning to his home town.
Drinks & cocktails
The cocktails are cleverly divided into light, medium and heavy, indicating their alcohol potency and taste. We watched in marvel as the bar tenders used beakers to craft their magic (remember those measuring jugs from high school science lab?). I chose the Root of the Earth from the medium list. Apparently, this is their ‘healthy choice’ cocktail and is a concoction of rum, beetroot-agave pinot and vanilla. I thought this was deliciously refreshing and it certainly did taste healthy! It had a strong beetroot flavour, so if you don’t like beetroot, stay away from this one. Next on my cocktail tasting pallet was the Red Snapper – a medium take on the Bloody Mary. This was amazing! The fresh pressed spiced tomato juice gave it a real hearty kick. Mixed with gin, it was my sort of Bloody Mary. Tom chose Gibbo on the Rocks from the heavy list – a mixture of gin and Tio Pepe served with a large block of hand-chipped ice and a pickle. This was brilliant – that pickle was a perfect match for the Tanqueray gin, adding to the drink’s tasty flavour.
There’s also a decent selection of wines, which you can buy by the glass, half bottle or bottle for most. Beer and whisky-wise, you can choose from a sizable list of craft beers and distinguished whisky. Behind both bars is a towering shelf of spirits and tucked between the bottles are glowing candles as well as vintage finishings such as chalices.
From what I saw this consisted of house made sausage rolls and oysters.
Cocktails – $16-$17
Wine – around $10
Beer – around $8
Outstanding – I would say 10 out of 10. Every single person was friendly, attentive and up for a chat.
My final verdict
I know I stated it upfront, but for good measure here it goes again: The Wild Rover is an exceptional Surry Hills cocktail bar and you won’t be disappointed with the drinks, atmosphere and service. I do believe this drinking hole will become one of my frequent haunts.