Looking every inch the perfect bomber pinup girl, our vivacious waitress is a dab hand at matching cocktails to drinkers. Her glossy black hair is pulled into the nape of her neck in an elegant chignon. The hairstyle, which hit peak popularity in the 1940s when women wore chignons under headscarves to work in factories supporting the war effort, is thematically appropriate. And the theme - in case the US fighter airplane name, or the wartime posters and memorabilia lining the walls haven’t clued you in - is 1940s with a touch of French resistance thrown in.
Laid out like the Kittyhawk IV Airplane’s manual, the combined food and drinks menu is a weighty tome. However if you don’t feel like investing some time in reading, you can always leave yourself in the capable hands of the lady with the lapel pins...
I was feeling pretty pleased with my self-selected U.S.C.C. (Uncle Sam’s Canoe Club) ($19) – a smooth yet smoky blend of tequila, white Crème de Cacao, pear and walnut shrub and lemon – until she topped it with the Rye Gram ($19). From the manual’s schematics, it’s a blend of spiced rye whisky and coconut stout made sweeter and silkier by gomme syrup, then balanced with lemon and a flamed cinnamon quill. It’s pretty much my perfect drink.
That shouldn’t be surprising – after all, Kittyhawk is the latest venture for the clever Lobo Plantation team, famous for revolutionising the way Sydneysiders drink rum. They’ve brought over some of the pirate's drink, but also given Rye a particularly good showing. You’ll find a bit of both in their Nuclear Daiquirye ($23), which make it a particularly potent mix. Sink back into the shiny green leather of your comfortable semi-circular booth and allow the combination of local Archie Rose White Rye, Wray and Nephew overproof rum, yellow Chartreuse, lime and falernum (a Caribbean syrup), to wash around your mouth and take the edge off your day.
And when’s the last time you ate a vol-au-vent – especially one with soft Kinkawooka mussels nestled within? Mussels Vol-au-vent ($12) arrives as a tasty threesome, hiding creamy white wine, garlic and herb butter mussels inside a buttery puff pastry shell. A tangle of dressed watercress and smear of sauce gives the plate some retro French bistro chic.
Ratatouille Sticks ($13) pretty much works the same turf – crisp airy pastry (this time filo) and creamy insides (shallot béchamel, eggplant baba ganoush and Gruyere cheese). I could take or leave them, because for me, this bar is about the drinks. I do recommend them as a foil to the salty, sour and sweet Beets By Dre ($19). This decidedly pink combination of rum, beetroot syrup, lime and vinegar is served in a coupette glass (like a margarita) with a salt rim. It's yet another exemplar of why you should report to this slick, sophisticated and beautifully thematic cocktail bar immediately, to get stuck into their well-executed drinks.
16 Phillip Lane, Sydney
Ph: (0437) 233 009