Sydney's Best Small Bars


Surry Hills-Darlinghurst
421 Cleveland St, Surry Hills

Vasco Bar, Surry Hills

If your bar is located on a noisy road like Cleveland St, then there is probably only one solution to the problem: try to out-compete it. Vasco, formerly the short lived and Brazilian themed Boteco, is a rock and roll bar thatís loud, in your face and an alternative to the more serene small bars in nearby Surry Hills. If you like your atmosphere chilled and clean, this is not the place for you. Strangely though, it is a bit at odds with its own menu. Rock and roll has rarely been a co-conspirator with fruity cocktails: beer yes, spirits definitely, but probably not gin favoured with various fruit juices and rosemary (Dear Rosemary, $17). A rockmelon bellini (Vasco Spritz, $15)? Definitely not. They may not be very rock and rock, but that doesnít change the fact they are decent drinks that are well handled by experienced bartenders, even if the staff seem a bit selective in who gets the good service. This reflects a change in Vasco's vibe: perhaps the initial energy of opening a small bar in late 2012 has waned, but it doesn't feel much fun anymore. The staff give off a standoff-ish feel, which is not exactly endearing.

For non-cocktail options there are various beers, and a few wines. The list changes regularly so check whatís available on arrival or ask at the bar.

On the food side, seasonal items appear on the menu, along with some daily specials such as $12 lasagne Tuesdays. And while their flavoursome take on hotdogs and chips might be more fitting to rockers, they come in a little high at $14. If you like an early start, happy hours are from 5-7pm and feature $6 beers and spirits and discounted cocktails.

In brief: Vasco
Best things: A lively alternative to many small bars, plus the smokers section is out the back so you donít get doused in usual cloud that welcomes people at most bars
Don't miss: Wednesday nights ĎAperitivo Hourí (5-7pm) where a selection of Italian snacks are served free with every drink
Ideal for: Small groups, catch-ups with friends, cocktails
Date tip: This is a tough one. Itís a bustling bar and conversation can be a bit hard, likewise seating.
Gripes: Conversation can become a shouting match when busy. Bar staff are standoff-ish.
Rating: 5/10

Vasco Bar on Urbanspoon

Last updated: August 2017
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