If it’s a laid-back cocktail-sipping afternoon with the sun glinting off the ocean you’re after (and let’s face it, who isn’t?), you need to get to The Island Bar on Cockatoo Island, Sydney pronto!
Cockatoo Island has a long history in Australian terms. It’s been in use since the First Fleet and was first used as a penal overflow facility… does that sound wrong to you or is it just me?
Anyway, since then this island – just the other side of the Sydney Harbour Bridge to Circular Quay, Sydney’s busiest ferry port – has become an excellent but little-known destination for a good drink and a feed.
On its north-eastern edge, Cockatoo Island is home to The Island Bar. The fun, aloha feel of the place and the kitsch ‘50s styling is a lot of fun. The tiki bar serves some great signature cocktails for you to sip as you recline in the stripy deckchairs and sun loungers on the lawn facing the water. You can even see the Harbour Bridge from here.
To the right as you come in is The Island Bar’s pizza oven where you can order your choice of delicious-looking wood fired pizzas from $18 to $25 each. I believe they also have gluten-free options available too.
We were here to pretend to look round the 19th Biennale exhibition that Cockatoo Island co-hosts every two years. It was way after 2pm, which in art terms is like 9pm on a Saturday, so we paid The Island Bar a visit.
Mrs Romance went for the Hello Sailor, named after Island Bar’s cool little sister bar on Oxford Street. The sweet spiced Caribbean rum, fresh lime juice and ginger beer was refreshing and full of fun, and which kind of suited the beautiful day out on Sydney Harbour.
I decided to have an Americano (called ‘L’Americano’ on their menu), which is a bit like a daytime negroni! Capari, sweet vermouth and soda water make this a sharp little number that knocked the dust out and made way for a bit more art viewing before we headed home.
The rest of the venue at The Island Bar is awesome. The Astroturf lawn they’ve put down and way the deckchairs are laid out reminded me of a European beach resort. But the fun retro-reggae they were playing, the tiki bar and just the overall made the place feel much more exotic.
We loved reclining there, looking out over the harbour. It was the perfect way to spend the afternoon. They also offer areas you can book for private events here, which I think is great. What a place for a party!
If there was one thing I could criticise The Island Bar for is that it’s not open all year round. Opening again in late August 2014, The Island Bar will be closed from 10th June – the day after the 19th Biennale finishes. It makes sense, I suppose – this isn’t really a winter venue.
So get a move on and make sure you get there before last drinks are called!
The Island Bar, Cockatoo Island
Open: Thursday 12.30pm – 6pm, Fri and Sat 12.30pm – 9pm, Sundays and public holidays 12.30pm – 7.30pm.
Please check open dates as this is a seasonal venue.
The Island Bar
Have you been to Cockatoo Island? Where’s your favourite waterside watering hole? Tell us in the comments!