With the opening of Knox Street Bar at Chippendale, a little under a year ago, Sydney has found its next crest in the wave of small bar cool. Although the address is 21 Shepherd Street, the home of Knox Street Bar owner Bjorn Godwin, the bar takes its name from the Knox Street bar entrance of that address, in what was once his garage. Down the driveway there is an eclectic mix of re-purposed furniture in two spacious rooms; there's an open kitchen which was cut out of the concrete, elevated with a look that's reminscent of a food truck parked in the garage, sculptures by Bjorn including his Chesty Bond collage, a red curtained stage, a film screen wall, an area for the DJ, a cocktail wheel and of course the bar, and its bartenders. It's a very happy place with a fantastic positive energy, a great vibe.
Leading the way in the small bar scene in Sydney, it was sad to see first generation Sticky Bar close. If you were wondering what happened to those energetic and entertaining bartenders from Sticky Bar, here is the answer. A bunch of them have regrouped here in Knox Street, and this time they're specializing in the most superb sours. And they're giving the sours a contemporary update. The Glenfiddich Garage Slapper ($14) adds Frangelico with the whisky and lemon juice, and adds urban honey from the hives on the terrace roof for the sweetness. All of the Knox Street Bar cocktails are just wonderfully tempting and tasty and well priced, starting from with the Knox Street (Havana 3yo, Gingembre, fresh lemon juice, touch sweet, black pepper) for just ten bucks and carrying through to the Golden Boy, 3 rums, passionfruit, grapefruit, Falernum, Grenadine, sugar, fresh lime, garnished with passionfruit and FIRE ($20). Better still, if you want to try you luck (and have a good belly laugh at the same time) any cocktail is just $14 if you take your chance and spin the wheel. It's just like one of those chocolate wheels, but instead of a carnival prize you get a cocktail. That's a much better prize, I reckon. The cocktails are amazing. And they're all made to order from a back bar that is independent and not signed (like so many bars) to one of the big companies. This is total love.
For those in need, there are also beers and wines too. Although, we didn't get past the cocktails.
Then, when you're peckish there is really good grub from Chef Sebastien Wilde. Again, the food is value. Again, it is really delicious. And the menu is versatile, ranging from snacks such as the Knox Jerky ($7) to larger plates such as the most incredibly flavoursome Buttermilk Fried Cauliflower ($15) with Romesco, pickled onion and Grana Padano. But best of all the fit-for-purpose bar food to mop up the booze is the huge Chip Butty ($8) with double chips - fries and Smiths crinkle cut chips - various cheeses, aioli, HP sauce, and a milk bun. The Chip Butty started as a joke, apparently, but it is so so good, it has just had to make itself a permanent home here. To finish, there are also desserts. We had this most incredible salted caramel and chocolate biscuit sandwich.
And as for entertainment, in what Bjorn Godwin calls a community bar, Wednesday night is Disco Night and Knox Street Bar spins a pretty fine get down and boogy mix. There are YouTube streamed films on Thursdays. Live experimental electronic music on Throwaway Sundays. Once a month there is Knox Street Crab Night, with Chilled Blue Swimmer Crab and a matching cocktail, and a crab boil, in the function room. Not A Feature Film is a monthly showcase of local and international, amateur, semi-professional and professional short films, and it's just a tenner to go. But that's not all, Knox Street Bar also hosts Little Fictions (live readings), Loop De Loop (with animators from around the world), comedy and so much more, including the immersive extravaganza of experimental experiences, Knox Street Bizarre.
With its superb drinks, the fun of the cocktail wheel, some seriously tasty but fun bar food and loads of different entertainment, we rate Knox Street Bar as one of the best, if not THE best small bar in town.