Head to one of the following bars for artisanal drops and share plates that will help ward off the winter chill. Here are five of the best bars in the Sutherland Shire.
Grind presents … The Lever Bar, Cronulla
Coffee has long been a social event at Grind Espresso. And, before we go any further, big shout out to owner Richard Calabro, the local legend who presented his disciples with a whisky bar in 2018. Calabro has done his homework and the experience of having a wee dram and a bite to eat here is part of a shift that has shaken the Cronulla dine-and-drink scene. The Lever Bar has upped the game at Grind as Calabro lures locals off the couch for a charcuterie board or Queen Margherita pizza paired with a wider drinks menu that includes 188 whiskies from around the world. The hot seats here are at the bar counter where Calabro holds court, teaching whisky-drinking wannabees how to better appreciate 'whiskey' (a word derived from uisge beatha, the Irish and Scottish Gaelic term for 'water of life'). All up, there are 188 whiskies that add to the amber glow behind the bar. Those with a thirst for knowledge should start with a "smooth and sweet" Highlander single malt Glenmorangie Lasanta, while connoisseurs should opt for something "smoky with different expressions" such as a Talisker 25-year-old Single Malt Whisky.
The Brass Monkey, Cronulla
The Brass Monkey is a song by American band, Beastie Boys. It's also the name of Cronulla's best live music venue. Together, co-owners Jad Nakhle and Geoff Trio are an unstoppable force: as well as paying homage to the arts at the Brass Monkey, the pair are the brains behind the Australian Music Week conference, a grassroots industry event held in November each year. The underground club evokes a quiet, polished supper club vibe with a dash of bordello on the side. While the share plates on the mostly Middle Eastern menu here are consistently good, most of the attention is paid to the stage where, in any given week, the heavy red curtains are drawn back to reveal acts that range from reggae to hip-hop, rock, jazz and blues. Book dinner and a show in this Pokies-free zone where the framed posters from historic shows read like a lament of Sydney's lockout laws. Sister venue El Sol also screams fiesta -- especially on Sol Sundays when you can order chilli con queso with hot sauce and soul music on the side. elsolmexican.com Coming up at the Brass Monkey: Rugby League, the Musical, Christine Anu and Monsieur Camembert.
Blind Bear, Cronulla
On a recent Thursday night in Cronulla, the Blind Bear was packed with a diverse mix of grown-ups who, after starting with an entree of jalapeno poppers and finishing with chicken dippers, stayed on in the jammed small bar for a few craft cocktails and Ardbeg Old-Fashioneds. Follow the hipster crowds in Cronulla who seem compelled to carve off, as if by instinct, into the beautifully scruffy dive bar, which locals consider one of the City of Sydney's best. Grab a seat at one of the rustic booths or choose from the ample seating upstairs and order off the menu of snacks and refined small plates that mostly involve superlative forms of chicken. Have an opinion about the merits of a flavourful Sunday Road IPA versus a Wayward Stout? Then find like-minded company at the bar where the taps are dedicated to imaginative brews and the barkeeps with bandito moustaches will help satisfy your curiosity.
Frank + Blanco, Sutherland
A few lazy laps at Sutherland Leisure Centre is how many svelte Shire types begin their Saturdays. If a rest stop is required, gather at Frank + Blancos where the more-is-more collection of Mexican art and ceramics applies to the food and drinks menus. After browsing the menu, take a seat out the back of the narrow space and dine on tacos stuffed with chicken and chorizo. Chef Angus Bright continues to tinker with the expectations of locals at the ambitious bar/restaurant that opened near to the Sutherland Train Station about four years ago. Rare is the tequila bar that serves great food … but look west of Cronulla and that's what you'll find here thanks in part to signature dishes such as the octopus ceviche and chef's special tostada. Trade dinner and drinks by the sea for bar bites at Frank + Blanco and you won't regret it. Don't forget to deploy the #getfranked and #LovetheShire hashtag to your Insta stories to provide inspo for your Shire followers.
Croydon Lane Wine and Tapas Bar, Cronulla
Customers who like to witness the creation of their drinks love to stand around the bar and riff with owner Johnny Rechichi who is like a walking drinks encyclopedia. Croydon Lane is as much a destination for the art of mixing drinks as it is a cosy place for some light bites and a nightcap. While the Norfolk pine fringed beaches and shimmering sea is part of the allure of sister bar, Zinc, Croydon Lane on the perimeter of Cronulla Plaza puts the local food and drink scene in the spotlight. The food here has never been an afterthought and it's spun out with aplomb here by Johnny and his team of confident wait staff. While legions of locals lap up the Sunday sessions -- where paella and live music are on the menu -- the shared tapas plates make for excellent night-time nibbles. Although the secret is well and truly out, the bar still feels like a hidden gem. Choose your own adventure with tapas options such as Jamon croquets, Queensland king prawns, calamari with cauliflower puree. www.croydonlane.com/
Carla Grossetti is an award-winning local journalist. Follow her food and travel adventures around the globe at @food.travel.stories on Instagram. To read more of Carla's stories, visit www.carlagrossetti.com
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522 Kingsway (Corner of Jackson Avenue), Miranda
T: 1800 004 321
Gerrale Street, Cronulla
Old Princes Highway, Engadine
20-38 Gerrale Street, Cronulla
T: 02 9710 0333
20 - 26 The Kingsway, Cronulla
T: 02 9527 3100
1 Kingsway, Cronulla
T: 02 8536 3600
1229-1233 Princes Highway, Engadine
T: 02 9520 8166
2 Seabreeze Lane, Bundeena
T: 0419 254 981
104 President Avenue, Caringbah
T: 02 9710 0333
Cnr Rawson Avenue & Pitt Street, Loftus
T: 02 9542 3646