Opened in 2005, following the renovation of the Sydney Hilton, Zeta Bar has proved a classy mainstay on Sydney’s party circuit and attracts drinkers and party goers every night of the week. Well-known for its edgy, comprehensive and it must be said, wallet-emptying cocktail menu, Zeta Bar is one of the most stylish places in town to let your hair down.
Once you’ve ridden the glass elevator from the Hilton’s lobby up to Zeta Bar, you’ll first notice the slick interior. Red velvet armchairs and foot stools prove awfully appealing, while the cosy nooks and crannies are perfect spots to impress a date. The terrace is popular during warm weather and offers stunning views of the Queen Victoria Building. A number of private booths and VIP areas are also stashed away and have in the past hosted a diverse range of celebrities.
Zeta Bar’s head bartender Grant Collins is behind the drinks list and seems to revel in creating playful and innovative cocktails. You know a bar takes their cocktails seriously when their cocktail list is sub-divided into six categories. At Zeta Bar, the listings feature the ‘signature’, ‘experimental’, ‘deconstructed’, ‘twisted classics’ and ‘forgotten classics’. This is the place to really try something other than the standards – although they do the standards pretty well also.
But at Zeta Bar the classics take a back seat to drinks with edible components and liquid nitrogen infusions. The Zeta Prohibition Iced Tea harkens back to the 1920s and is served in a jam-jar wrapped in a brown paper bag. The Casino is another great drink and derives from Harry Johnson’s Bartenders’ Manual, circa 1882. It is gin mixed with maraschino liqueur, lemon juice and orange bitters shaken with cracked ice, served straight up, in an antique martini glass.
And if that’s not edgy enough for you, there’s the Smoked Bacon Manhattan – a smoky bacon-infused bourbon, a dash of maple syrup, a splash of cherry syrup and sweet and dry vermouth. It’s served in a martini glass with crispy bacon on top, and comes complete with instructions.
And while throughout the week it’s all about cutting-edge cocktails and the moody atmosphere, Saturday nights see the party people descend en-masse as a mix of house and visiting DJs turn the bar into a stylish nightclub. The Saturday night soirees are extremely popular, so dress sharp and arrive early to guarantee entry.
Zeta Bar is located on Level 4 of the Hilton Hotel, 488 George Street, City. Opening hours are: Mon-Sat 5pm-late.