Circular Quay’s restored historic press gem launches, blending old-world charm from the 1800s with ‘forgotten’ cocktails and relics from the past.
Sitting in the epicentre of Australia’s media history and the beating heart of the Bulletin Magazine, Circular Quay’s newest cocktail bar, Bar 1880, pays homage to old Sydney from the sensational current affairs publication to the once bustling working port.
Tucked away on Bulletin Place, the new two-level cocktail bar features cosy indoor and laneway dining with tasteful nods to the past.
Downstairs sits the ‘Headline Bar’, opening to the laneway where replica letters from the press are built into the cobbled path. Here guests can step back in time and imagine paper boys collecting their loads for the day.
Hidden above is the ‘Press Room’, which features uneven floorboards from where the original printing press was cut into the floor and antique press trays have pride of place on the wall.
The venue is the brainchild of young entrepreneur Harry Morton, the founder of a sailing management company that has seen him travel the world. Throughout his travels, Harry kept a little black book to make notes on his experiences that have culminated into the inspiration for bringing his dream bar to life.
“I have always sought out unassuming hidden bars across the world, from dark basements to stepping behind mirrors. With 1880, I was inspired by the iconic history of the building and ‘rescuing’ some lesser known cocktails for people to rediscover,” he said.
Morton has assembled a decorated bar and management team, including French duo, former Zephyr Manager Didier Nahum and 2011 French bartender of the year Alex Raclet.
Alex cuts no corners with everything made in-house, selecting fresh produce daily to craft inventive signature cocktails, such as Lock Me Up, an old-fashioned style cocktail using sous vide banana and white cacao butter washed cognac, chestnut and fino sherry.
Forgotten cocktails are also brought back to life within the Press Room with ‘Suffering Bastard, Egypt 1942, Francois Voyer VS cognac, Hickson dry gin, lime, ginger beer, bitter’ and ‘Don’t Give Up The Ship, England 1941, Joadja dry gin, Carpano, Curacao, Fernet’.
There are a healthy selection of local and artisan spirits, with over 25 gins to choose from, which can all be made into a martini for martini lovers to work through over time.
The food menu is small but well considered with share platters overflowing with carefully sourced cured meats and cheeses along with a selection of high-quality canned sardines imported from Italy.
The design was inspired by the Bulletin Magazine history, restoring that timeless aesthetic, and bringing in a mix of contemporary decor and old-world finishes that add warmth and character. Bar 1880 embodies a speakeasy vibe, although no password or secret knock is required for entry, the bar provides an exclusive atmosphere with dim lighting, rich dark blue walls and vintage touches.
One of Australia’s longest-running magazines, first published on 31st January 1880 and its last in 2008, the Bulletin Magazine was iconic for the influential Australian writers and artists that helped to shape the political and cultural landscape of the time.
1880 is open from 4pm to late Tuesday to Saturday and located next to Tapavino in Bulletin Place laneway. The Headline Bar will be running a $10 Happy Hour from 4pm to 5.30pm.