Only a hop, skip and a jump from favourites Grandma's, The Baxter Inn and Grasshopper, Assembly is a spanking new option on the city's map of small bars. Plus, it's from the gent responsible for Pocket Bar, so you know you're getting a good deal.
Admittedly, Assembly is tucked away in a bit of a strange spot - namely Regent Place, a shopping hub with the feel of a shopping centre. Entrance to the bar involves sidestepping an escalator, so entering a dimly lit bar feels like an awkward adjustment. That said, the Assembly team have done their best to counter this and ensure the bar itself is a departure from its surrounds.
Outside the bar proper sits a picnic spot, or garden if you will. Tables on astroturf are surrounded by a picket fence, tapping into the greenery installation on the centre's wall. This makes for a playful lunching atmosphere in the concrete centre, or a surreal spot to sit and drink at night. The bar itself is far from sparkling tiles and polished steel - it has the atmosphere of an adult's treehouse. Dividers built from wooden pallets, milkcrate tables, bunker-style lights, slightly creepy mannequins and one of the cleverest dumb waiters we've ever seen, made from the repurposed mechanism of a garage door.
The drinks from mixologist/general manager Ben Taouss are almost as intelligent, and most definitely as playful. My pick (and one of my favourites anywhere) was the Lavender Hill Cappuccino ($17), a martini with Pop Rocks and an apple foam. There's also the Rasp'n'Co ($16), a 'vodka raspberry' with white chocolate or, for more serious drinkers, the Brooklyn ($18), a prohibition-style concoction of rye whisky, sweet vermouth, maraschino liqueur, a dash of Amer Picon and a cherry on top. Some of our favourites, however, also came from the Ambassadors List, dedicated to some of Sydney's spirit brands' ambassadors. We love the Citroen Sour ($18), with half a passionfruit and a dash of orange bitter, plus the Earl Negroni ($18), Hendricks, Campari and Antica formula with orange marmalade, served up in a teacup. If you'd prefer, there's a shifting range of fairly standard beers and a moderate wine list also on offer.
Food isn't overly complicated but hits the spot. The winning dish is unquestionably the Sticky Ribs ($18). Though these don't quite represent ribs as we would imagine them and the broccolini is a little underrepresented, the meat melts like butter. Make sure you pick up a side of Fries ($8) - though the melted cheese and truffle sauce isn't ideal, they do well to mop up the ribs' smoky sauce. If you'd rather mix and match, try the Hotdogs ($9-$10). Our pick was the Chili Pork, with toffee onions and chimichurri that packed a punch, though the Pork and Fennel, with the addition of daikon and wasabi, was an intriguing mix.
Assembly isn't perhaps what you'd except from the 'small bars' hype, but we like it nonetheless. A little fancier than Grandma's and a little more playful than Baxter Inn, we want to see how the assemblage of this bar develops into the future.