Hidden behind a steel door disguised as a banh-mi cart is Sydney’s newest hidden gem, Vinabar. This Vietnamese-inspired micro-bar has just opened on Kent Street in the CBD.
From the moment you walk through the door, you’re greeted by elegance and simplicity. Sixty silk lanterns imported from Hoi An adorn the heritage wooden joists, a stark contrast against the black marble benchtops. A scaled replica of the Golden Hand Bridge from Da Nang doubles as the bar shelving. Dark reflective panels surround the hands to create a sense of volume.
The concept marks a huge step in the evolution of Equicentia, a boutique property developer, and the Tesalona Group, a well-established player in the restaurant industry. Under the leadership of Ashwin Arumugam and Reymark Tesalona, the micro bar stands as a symbolic commencement for the duo in the hospitality industry.
Inspired by their travels to Vietnam and Southeast Asia, Vinabar is a place where the duo have been able to showcase their shared love for hospitality and the people they get to work with. A year ago, the pair lamented that too often, you see venues with cavernous spaces that simply aren’t cohesive. By keeping their footprint small, they were able to focus on the stuff that really matters and leave a more lasting impact. Their cocktails transcend all barriers giving them a medium to tell a story by using all human senses, not just taste.
The menu features heavy influence from fruits that are typically found in Southeast Asia. Think rambutans, carambolas (starfruit), longans. Our top pick is one of their signature cocktails called the “Vinagroni” – a pecan wood-smoked negroni, with a dehydrated carambola (starfruit) as a garnish. The finished product, which is meant to resemble the Vietnamese flag, is an absolute stand-out and a must-try on your visit here!
Another crowd favourite is the “Ca Phe Martini”, the pair’s take on the espresso martini. A dash of condensed milk lines the bottom of the glass, which is then served with a Pocky as a garnish that patrons use to stir and mix in the condensed milk. So luscious and dangerously drinkable.
One of the best sellers is the “Da Nang”, which features cognac, pineapple, coconut, mint and pandan foam. Cheekily, the cocktail also requires the use of a whipped cream charger, more commonly known as a “Nang”. The “Rumble In The Jungle” is another highlight with vodka, lychee, rambutan and jungle juice – a tropical delight!
There is also a fortnightly special on rotation. For their opening, it was a butterscotch sour, aptly named “Butter Me Up” and more recently was the “Hanoi Heat” – a deliciously spicy mix including tequila, agave, lime, pineapple and heat. The pair believe that keeping a limited menu, with a new special every couple of weeks, is a unique way to keep the hype up and bring in repeat customers.
There’s even a small food offering (available on Thursdays through to the weekend), which includes two dishes – Kingfish Ceviche served with spicy citrus, dragonfruit and coconut cream and fresh fruits served with chilli salt.
Vinabar is a great new addition to Sydney’s small bar scene. With good vibes, great people and one-of-a-kind cocktails, Vinabar certainly delivers on its tagline – “Small space, big dreams.”
Shop 1, 332 Kent Street, Sydney
Open Monday to Sunday (4pm – 2am)